5. Remember their name.
For me, this is a huge problem. I’m terrible with names across the board. I carry my drivers license so I can prove who I am… to myself. Nametags are great… but learning the names of your kids (other than the ‘bad’ ones) is huge. Remembering them after their out of children’s ministry is even better.
4. Tell on them to their parents when they’ve been extra good.
Sometimes in the chaos of a Sunday good behavior can be taken for granted. The last thing we want is our parents to start rolling their eyes when we approach them. Start telling on your kids when they’ve been caught being good. It’ll help you stay positive and the kids will love you for it.
3. Eat lunch with them at school and meet their Teacher(s).
With permission from a parent or guardian I have never had a problem getting in to eat lunch with one of my kids. I usually show up a bit early so I can meet the Teacher, see the classroom and most importantly, their own desk. This is especially good for your ‘bad’ kids. You might be surprised how good they are in school… or how they’ve improved since Kindergarten.
2. Get yourself invited to eat dinner at their home.
This is easy. Just ask the kids to bug their parents. You’ll get invites! It’s an excellent way to get into a family’s life. Have mom and the child give you a tour of the home and see the kid’s room. Remember a few things and mention them from the stage the next week. Watch their face.
1. Call them on their birthday.
A postcard is great… but a phone call on the day (or even the week) of their birthday has a greater effect on children and families than any other single thing I have ever done. If you have a small group, you’re probably looking at 2-6 calls a month. Put them in your planner and remember to check. Make weekend calls on Friday. Make Sunday calls in person with hug.
Last night was a trying evening for me. Most of the parents we serve a awesome, grateful and accommodating… but the mom I dealt with last night was none of those. I don’t know what got to me most… her behavior or the way I responded to it.
In a nutshell, she had three children. One was nursery age. The Nursery was full so she tried to sneak her newly-turned three year old into an older class without checking in. I stepped in and corrected the situation. Mom was angry and started talking trash.
Here are some things I learned that will help me deal with this type of person in the future.
1. You can’t reason with them.
They know what they want. They want to be rid of their child. This type of person wouldn’t care if they were dropping their child off at a homeless shelter… they just want what they want. Don’t waste your time trying to appease them if you can’t give them what they want. Just like a troll on a forum, it just gives them more of a platform to spew anger.
2. Trust your policies and procedures.
These folks will lie… they will tell you their way had been done before… that everything was fine last time… that you told them such-in-such. Though you’ll want to believe them… trust your people. Trust that they followed the policies and procedures until you’ve spoken to them and learned otherwise. Do not assume your volunteers have disregarded everything you’ve taught them just because one person says differently.
3. You can’t serve everyone.
I have a huge heart for people. I hate it when I’m put in the place of looking like a bad guy… but that’s not my role unless someone is behaving in a way that forces me to squash that behavior. My ministry has the potential of being a great resource and help to families… but if someone is unwilling to follow simple, basic policies… they are rejecting all of that. The part that kills me is that they don’t even know what they’re missing. I understand that people have issues… but Children’s ministry functions within a set of rules. Those rules are not just for fun… they’re for the protection of the folks we’re ministering to… and those who are ministering. When we have someone who can’t do the basics of following procedure… well, there are plenty of churches out there who have more heart than sense… they can go to church there.
4. Did they have a point?
After all of the drama and bad behavior I still need to ask myself… Did they have a point? Was there something we missed? If I don’t ask that question and attempt to answer it seriously, I risk being a ministry who believes they have ‘arrived’. We always have room to grow and improve. In this case I realized that if we’d simply had enough workers in the Nursery, there would have been no issue at all. I understand at least part of the frustration my parent felt.
What would you add to this list? Share you insights in the comments.
I met a few friend from Daytona Beach, Florida yesterday. He’s a Children’s Pastor with a lot of creativity… but not a lot of space. He shares his children’s ministry room with other ministries just like I do. He got tired of moving heavy sets each week and decided to do something about it.
The product of that need was something he calls Inflate-A-Set. It’s a super portable, light weight set frame that inflates like a moon walk but works like a rear screen and puppet stage.
I’m going to be saving my pennies to get me one. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for!
They’ve just got a business card style site up for now… but it’ll give you something to look at.
This weekend we recorded our JAM City children’s church service using four cameras and an portable audio recorder. I spent most of Sunday afternoon and all day Monday putting it all together and editing it down. The result is a 56 minute video cut into 10 minute segments available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube.
No set. No fancy lighting. No amazing costumed characters. Just a bunch of passion and a great group of kids (it was a ‘rain Sunday’ so not even a large group of kids). 😉
I’ve edited out a lot of our more fun segments to focus on the ministry portions… but I plan to make those available as separate clips shortly. Stuff your missing is: Rules & Regs, Jumps, Offering, Praise & Worship, and Game Time.
If you have any questions about anything you see in the video… leave a comment below and I’ll get right back to you.
Link: JAM City Children’s Church Video
I’m a big fan of Woot.com. If you’re not familiar, it’s a site with one item for sale each day at a great price. They have a set amount for sale, and when it’s gone it’s gone. I’ve probably spent more money over at Shirt.Woot.com over the years though… same concept except with t-shirts.
As of this morning at 12:00am they’ve launched a brand new spin on the theme: Kids.Woot.com. Every day we can expect great deals on gadgets, games and toys for children. Even Woot.com has gotten into the spirit by selling a fort making kit.
I know I’ve got this added to my bookmarks. I would imagine any children’s pastor looking for great prizes for special events would find it in their best interest to check it out daily.
I wonder if Kids.Woot.com will do their own version of the BOC?
I found a page full of free Game Show apps for use on computers for children’s ministry. The games include 25,000 Pyramid, Sale of the Century, Deal or no Deal, Family Feud, Press Your Luck, Blockbusters, Countdown, Wheel, Match Game, 1 vs 100, Million Dollar Password, Scrabble and more.
There is even a Deal or No Deal Banker’s Offer Calculator
Free Game Show Controls
I’ll admit something… I do a character. His name is JoJo The Christian Clown. I hate clowns. JoJo wrote a song for my daughter a while back and I made a video of it and shared it with the internets. Now I’m sharing it with you. It has no redeeming value at all. It will become stuck in your head and you may sing it out loud at some point today. Just a warning.
You can download the mp3 here.
And check out this Kindergarten class that performed the song for their Family Night. I just found the video last night!
A look at some of my creative heroes… and a chat about faith and direction.
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If you were leaving your position in three months… and wanted to leave the ministry you’d been building in the best condition possible… what would you do in the next 30 days?
I have recently put this challenge to myself and realized I had a vision or two that I had been holding off on for no good reason. I immediately called a meeting and boldly laid out my vision and I think things are going to start moving that direction. It’s exciting.
It’s the same as when you sell your home. There are a ton of things that you suddenly realize you need to fix that you were living with and had actually grown to accept. Looking at your home through a buyers eyes helps you see things in a more honest light. This exercise can help us to light a fire under ourselves to jump on those projects, programs, tasks or whatever that we’ve gotten used to being less than what we’ve wanted them to be.
Today was a pretty rough Sunday. The kids were nuts but the worst behavior come from a few parents who were way out of line. Days like that can make you wonder why you even bother. If the parents don’t appreciate it… what’s the point?
God had a simple reminder for me:
You’re not serving them… you’re serving me.
God will never disrespect you. He never looks down on you for being a servant. He is always proud, always thrilled with your service. He is the reason we do what we do. He’s always worth working for.
I hope that sample phrase ministers to you as much as it did me. It falls into the category of things you know you know… but need to be reminded of in a fresh way once in a while.
Plus… it was only two sets of parents… not all of them.