Tag Archives: parents

Gaining Respect For Your Ministry, Part 2

In my first post in this series I talked about the secret issue of many children’s ministers: disrespect. I suggest you head over and read that post before continuing.

It’s important for us to remember that we are a support ministry, we’re not part of the big show, and on our best day will still be playing second fiddle. That position is not a punishment, it’s our God-given position. We can bloom there or become bitter, brittle and dry.

Which of us haven’t been asked when we’re planning to become real pastors? Continue reading

The Importance of Packaging

What’s the main difference between regular cereal and generic. The packaging. I know kids say they can tell the difference… just like we adults swear we can taste the difference between tap water and bottled water… but in reality it’s the way the cereal is packaged that makes it more exciting.

I believe packaging is important in children’s ministry as well… especially to those of us who don’t have a lot of money and resources. We can’t all print every flier in full color and our check-in stations may never look like a children’s museum lobby, but there are several things we can all do to improve the packaging of our children’s ministry. Doing so will excite the children, volunteers and the parents we serve.

1. Laminate Signs

For some reason when I laminate a piece of paper, people pay more attention to it than when I just print and stick.

2. Pre-Printed Paper for Fliers

Even if you can’t print in color, you can buy paper with pre-printed backgrounds… or even better use a high-volume, low-cost print shop and have a whole mess of custom printed paper to make fliers and handouts on.

3. A Great Logo

It may cost a little money, but getting a great quality logo is a great way to package your ministry. I happen to do low-cost, high-quality logos over at DrawYouAPicture.com. Most of the time ministry logos only cost $65 and I’ve yet to charge more than $99 for a single logo.

4. Dress Up For Church

I know most of we children’s ministers don’t like church clothes but dressing ourselves up is probably the easiest way to dress up our own ministry. People outside of kids church never see your ministry… but they do see you.

5. Keep Classroom Decorations Fresh

Every church classroom I’ve ever seen has had old stuff on the walls. It’s been up so long that no one even sees it anymore. Same with bulletin boards. It costs little to nothing to keep these things current. You just throw out the old stuff and put up the new. And when you do put it up, put it up straight, centered, and without visible tape or staples. Thumbtacks still look good, but double sided tape looks even better!

6. Clean Storage Areas

Your pastor hates your storage room. It bothers him. It bothers you… but you’re used to it. It would bother your parents if they saw it. Clean it up… or at least get it organized. Same with classroom cabinets, drawers and countertops. Old curriculum, handouts, copies, old cookies… they all need to be given away or thrown away.

7. Clear Copies

This is a pet peeve so bear with me here. I hate it when I can see page numbers, curriculum titles, and copied hole punch holes on handouts. I want my copies to look first generation. A little whiteout goes a long way in improving the look of your copies. You can even keep a strip of paper on hand to place over the holes on punched originals. And for the love of all that is holy, make sure your copies are square to the paper.

Packaging isn’t the most important part of children’s ministry… but it is an important part. When you take pride in the little things the side-effect is that others will respect what you do more. Plus God seems to bless folks who are faithful in the little things.

We Do It For Him Not Them

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.

How To Address Embarrassing Issues With Parents

How do you handle head lice in Sunday School?  My husband and I are the SS directors for a small church.  We face this problem every year.  Some of the older teachers freak out when they have a child with head lice.  What is the best course of action with the teachers, child and the parents? Janel

When we’re faced with an issue that is potentially embarrassing issue we are are very honest and clear with the parents. It is always handled by myself, the children’s pastor. I state the facts (in this case head lice), letting the parent know that the child has lice… we give them information on how to clean the lice from their child… including tips on clothing, headwear, bedding, siblings etc. and in some cases offer to purchase the kit or kits.

You may find some information online and create a fact sheet and have it ready to give to parents. The key is to be compassionate, respectful and private.

As far as the response in the classroom. Teachers should be instructed possible issues such as lice. They aren’t the end of the world. They don’t attack with flaming torches and pitchforks. They can’t leap 10’s of feet through the air to infest the entire classroom in a single setting. Have them pull the child aside, explain to them the situation… tell the child to be mindful (if they are old enough) and then contact the parent (or let the child go back to class until service is over).

I have found in every sensitive situation that the best course of action is to be immediate, clear and kind. The more I try to beat around the bush, overly sensitive and mushy, the more it actually makes the family feel embarrassed and trashy.

Struggling With Parents

This past Easter we did a super simple Candy Hunt in our gym after the main service for our pre-school and elementary students. Parents and families were naturally invited along to watch. We had half of the gym reserved as the field for the hunt and invited the families to spread themselves all the way around the court.

I quickly explained what was going to happen. We were going to have four hunts. One for pre-schoolers, one for 1st-2nd grade, another for 3rd and 4th then a final one for the 5th graders. I was clear that everyone would get a chance and that they needed to wait for their group.

We started the hunt and things went well for a while… but during hunt number three it became apparent we had a lot of older kids… and quite a few younger kids involved. I darted around removing them from the field and noticed that that most of them were returning to parents who had egged them on. In once case in particular I walked up on a parent giving their 18 year old son and 3 year old daughter instructions on how to pick up even more candy.

It was enough to make me want to shut everything down! How could these parents not appreciate our efforts enough to respect a few basic rules? On a greater level, how could I expect my messages on Sunday to get through to children who’s parents morals counteracted and contradicted everything I was teaching.

On the way home, broken and angry, I chose to pray it through. I knew God would give me a different view on things. He first gave me pity for those parents. What kind of life must they live that stealing candy off a gym floor makes things seem more fair and right? He also helped me to realize that rather than canceling future hunts, we just needed to do them during the main service and remove the only discipline problem at the event. The Parents.

I’ve met more than a few children’s ministers who have had experiences like mine and have developed a real distain for parents. This is a real problem. See, we’re here to partner with our parents. We cannot afford to see them as the enemy… even if it seems they’re heck-bent on convincing us they are.

Let’s look at some common reasons CM’s struggle with parents:

They’re inconsistent in attendance.

Yes there are parents who just don’t care… but after a bit of digging I found that most of my parents do come, but their kids are with another parent every other weekend. With the rest of them… accept, pray, get over it, and make every moment you do have count.

They bring children but don’t want to help.

When you’re short on help, it can drive you crazy to see parents dart by the door, pushing their kids in not even looking inside to see how much your struggling with the kids you already have. It’s easy to begin hating on them. It can make you feel like a babysitter and an unappreciated one at that. The truth is that even if that’s all you were, giving those parents a child-free moment to spend receiving from God is one of the best gifts you could give your kid’s family. It really took me having my own children to fully understand and appreciate that.

They don’t understand the spiritual potential of their children.

I’ve heard CM’s say this, and it’s always with an air of superiority. Makes me want to slap them. How can someone with this mentality every hope to partner with parents for the betterment of the family? When did CM’s get to the point where we think we can take responsibility for every child’s spiritual well-being? God gave that job to the parents. Do we know better than God? If they’re not doing it right, it’s up to us to humbly help them.

They struggle against our policies.

I’ll give you this one. Some of them do push hard against anything you expect/need them to do in order to keep a smoothly running program. It’s annoying… but it’s always a minority. We just don’t notice the good parents in these situations. Plus we see them when they’re late for church and late for lunch. Is that really a fair time to make a judgment about someone?

They don’t give us the respect they give other pastors.

Stinks huh. We don’t get the respect because we don’t carry the responsibilities he or she does. We may think we have it so bad and he has it so easy… but trust me… you’re better off being told you’re a kid’s pastor because you’re a big kid yourself than dealing with a church-full of issues.

They don’t support us by disciplining their children properly.

I’ll give you this one too. A properly disciplined child is a rarity in this world we live in. But rather than fight against it, we need to adjust to compensate for it. CM’s can get a lot of pointers from the public school system. They deal with the same things we do… but on a daily basis so many times I find they’ve evolved to it faster. They have things that work without relying on the parents to back them up.

I hope it’s obvious that most of those reasons are actually perceptions of reality, not necessarily reality itself. It my feel that these things are true… and in some cases with some parents they very-well may be, but in general, most parents are doing the best they can and want to do better. We typically judge parents by a series of instances and lump them all in our minds into one huge parent prototype and judge them all by that conception. It’s not fair, not true and not right. It’s a tool that Satan will use to keep you at odds with one of your greatest resources… your kids’ parents.

Tune in tomorrow for insight into ending the mental struggles with our kids’ parents.