Multisite Monday – 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Volunteer and Staff Kids

Part Two

A couple weeks back I shared 8 Do’s for Volunteer and Staff Kids. Before we jump into today’s content, here’s a brief recap…

Growing up, my parents were the ultimate church volunteers. My mom was a Sunday School teacher, my dad the Sunday School Director and Associate Pastor. When I was a teenager, he announced his call to preach. As much as I loved Jesus, I came to resent the church building itself. I endured long hours inside those brick walls, bored and wishing to be anywhere else. Yet, at 19 years old, I felt God’s call on my life. It was very specific. He wanted to use my own experience to fuel my passion and make church FUN for kids. Over my 17 years in children’s ministry, I’ve strived to create environments that engage and attract children, especially staff and volunteer kids. Today’s post is Part 2 of 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Volunteer and Staff Kids. It will focus on those things that should be avoided in order to connect and minister to the families you see most often. I would encourage you to start with Part 1.

Up until December 2016, and for the past six years, my husband and I had led the family ministry at Elevation in Charlotte, North Carolina, a fast-growing church of 16 locations and nearly 30,0000 attendees. One of the areas in which we found success was called Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an environment designed specifically for staff and volunteer kids. At Elevation, parents attend one worship experience and serve during another. As a result, volunteer and staff kids are at church for more than four hours. Clubhouse ensures they don’t get bored or serve as a distraction.

Clubhouse is an area where kids can eat a snack, hang out with friends, watch movies, play boardgames, engage in video game tournaments, craft, and play with toys. Kids love the low key environment and parents appreciate the energy and effort expended to care for their children while they are busy serving Jesus.

Having a defined strategy is key. Here are 8 things to avoid when establishing a plan to better engage and minister to staff and volunteer kids.

DON’T

DON’T expect them to be exemplary pupils.

  • Kids are kids. While I strongly believe regular church attendance helps young minds develop a more defined and Biblically based sense of morality, it’s important to remember even great kids have bad days, weeks, and years. Believe me, my funny and sweet 11 year-old, Isaac, was not so pleasant when he was three. If I’m being honest, he was a terror. I wanted to apologize every time I dropped him off. If you’re creating a Clubhouse type environment and expecting the kids in attendance to behave like angels that treasure the space, put away games, and listen the first time an adult speaks, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Clubhouse at Elevation is loud, somewhat chaotic, busy, and FUN! When children feel safe to be who God made them, they’ll start to anticipate that freedom. They’ll begin to look forward to the long hours at church.

DON’T punish them or make them an example because they are “tough enough” to handle it.

  • The kids in your ministry will act out, especially in an environment in which their energy is allowed and encouraged. As with anything in life, a bad choice can result in unfortunate consequences. I’m not suggesting you should let volunteer and staff kids run wild, but make an effort to understand the stress and strain each child endures in order for you ministry to thrive and always err on the side of grace.

DON’T assume their parents are informed about what’s happening in your ministry.

  • The most uninformed parents in your congregation are typically those on staff or serving in a volunteer role. Why? They’re too close to the action. Volunteer and staff parents assume because they spend so much time within the church walls they are “in the know.” These moms and dads rarely read handouts or emails, and they never pay attention to details because they know who to call when they need a reminder. As a ministry leader, it’s incredibly frustrating, but it’s also a reality. Find ways to keep volunteer and staff parents informed. Station a volunteer at Clubhouse pick-up to relay details through face-to-face conversation. Mail handouts directly to their homes with a personalized note. Create disposable take-home bags parents can grab with all the information they need for the week. Make it a point to keep them informed and watch as they begin to understand, support, and appreciate your ministry in a whole new way.

DON’T forget about attention span.

  • Have you ever been in a car with a kid? Whether the trip is 10 hours or 10 minutes, as soon as your foot hits the gas those legendary words fall from their lips, “How much longer?” God gave us these precious, adorable, mini people with boundless energy and zero attention span. If you truly want to help kids love church, you have to keep their minds and bodies occupied. Having staff and volunteer kids repeat your Sunday morning programming multiple times will eventually create problems. When little minds and hands wander, they cause distraction and create mischief. In your Clubhouse environment, keep a steady pace of activities planned. When parents arrive to pick-up, you want their kids asking, “Can’t I stay just a little longer?”

DON’T treat them as you would all other regularly attending children.

  • Staff and volunteer kids will, on average, spend 300% more time at church than a sporadically attending child. If you strategically use this time to invest in them, you’ll find these children will be your most effective marketing tool. They’ll understand the heart of your house and the systems of your ministry and will one day be your most passionate volunteers.

DON’T allow programming constraints to limit what you can do.

  • Just because your main worship service is programmed for 60 minutes and held inside the brick walls of the church building, does not mean your Clubhouse environment should operate within those same constraints. Schedule a game truck. Turn your parking lot into a waterpark. Plan a Easter Egg hunt with mega prizes for your staff and volunteer kids during the Easter Clubhouse experience. Order Happy Meals and milkshakes from McDonald’s and sit on the playground or sidewalk for lunch. Find ways to make your Clubhouse experience feel not normal.

DON’T assume they love church.

  • I shared how, as a child, I loved Jesus but hated the church building. I was often bored and couldn’t relate to the teachings. I’m sure your church is committed to creating fun, relevant environments but every child may not initially view your ministry in a positive light. That’s okay. Treat them kindly. Ask questions. Find out what his or her interests are and make adjustments that will strategically appeal to individual interests.

DON’T babysit them.

  • We all love to be needed, to feel important, to believe that our opinion matters. Kids are no different. If anything, they are seeking validation and acceptance more than anyone else. When you schedule a volunteer and ask them to do little more than pass out gummy snacks, turn on a movie, and check tags at pick-up, kids have no motivation to be more than a number in a ratio. Instead, find adults who will take a vested interest in them as individuals. Make sure your volunteer and staff kids feel important and valued. The lengths to which kids will go to fulfill the expectations you’ve set will surprise you. Challenge them to assume leadership positions among peers. Offer incentives for scripture memorization, and find opportunities for them to take the reigns when possible and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

A successful Clubhouse environment is one of intentionality. Your strategy should be to engage kids, facilitate friendships, and bring laughter, as well as connect families on a more personal level.

In a Multisite Model, bring campus children’s director’s and Clubhouse leaders together frequently to brainstorm ideas and determine what is and is not working. Sharing supplies and strategy can save you time and money in the long run. The secret to success is not a secret at all, it’s collaboration.

If you haven’t already read Part 1, I would encourage you to go back and read the first half of this post. To check out additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Jessica Bealer

 

Sample Clubhouse Schedule:

8:00AM Parent Drop-off / Free Play / Morning Movie

8:30AM Breakfast

9:00AM Cleanup

9:15AM Kids transfer to class

9:30AM Clubhouse kids attend first experience

11:00AM Clubhouse volunteers pick up kids from classrooms and transfer them back to the Clubhouse area.

11:15AM Lunch

11:45AM Cleanup

12:00PM Free Play / Video games / Crafting / Art / Boardgames / OCCASIONAL SPECIAL ELEMENT

12:45PM Snack

1:15PM Parent Pick-up

*Note: Clubhouse is available for volunteer and staff kids, ages 3 through 5th grade.

How To Navigate A New Position With Enthusiasm And Grace

Audio Blog

Next week, you won’t want to miss Part 2 of Multisite Monday – 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Volunteer and Staff Kids here on FamilyMinistry.Church.

On the eve of Independence Day, in which most of us living in the United States are making last minute trips to the grocery store for hamburger buns and watermelon, and those truly brave souls head to the nearest Fireworks outlet, I thought a change of pace was in order. While you’re in the kitchen whipping up those deviled eggs, or packing a swim bag for the lake, I hope you’ll take just a few minutes to turn on this audio blog and learn from my steps and missteps as it relates to transition.

After nearly 17 years in children’s ministry, one might assume I am accustomed to change. While that may be somewhat true, it doesn’t lessen the impact or difficulty of navigating the unknown.

Click here to listen to this episode of the Orange Leaders Audio Blog.

The goal of the Orange Leaders Audio Blog is to help family, youth and children’s ministry leaders influence the faith and character of kids and teenagers. Five days a week, Monday through Friday, ministry leaders from around the world share the best strategies, tips and ideas from the Orange Leaders online blog. For additional resources and episode transcripts, visit www.OrangeLeaders.com.

Jessica Bealer

Multisite Monday – 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Volunteer and Staff Kids

Part One

I’m a preacher’s kid. I grew up loving Jesus, but dreading church. I didn’t have a traumatic experience involving the steeple or pews. It just felt irrelevant, time consuming and boring. It wasn’t until early adulthood, I discovered church could be fun. At the age of 19, I took my first position as Children’s Director for a small startup church in East Tennessee. I made a commitment to create engaging environments in which kids would also have FUN, especially volunteer and staff kids.

Fast forward eight years, Frank and I relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina and began attending Elevation Church. We signed up to serve and selected our perspective areas. I chose eKidz Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an environment designed specifically for staff and volunteer kids. At Elevation, parents attend one worship experience and serve during another. As a result, volunteer and staff kids are at church for more than four hours. To ensure they didn’t get bored or serve as a distraction, Clubhouse was created.

Clubhouse is an area where kids can eat a snack, hang out with friends, watch movies, play boardgames, engage in video game tournaments, craft, and play with toys. When introduced, it was an instant success. Kids loved the low key environment and parents appreciated the energy and effort expended to care for their children while they were busy serving Jesus. Our strategy started with Clubhouse, but grew and expanded along with our volunteer base.

The name you select to identify your volunteer and staff kids area is insignificant. Having a defined strategy is key. To get you started, here are eight do’s to help you establish a plan that will have staff, volunteers, and their children falling in love with your church all over again.

DO

Offer them special privileges and opportunities.

  • Allow volunteer and staff kids the chance to serve in a volunteer role a year before their peers are eligible. Offer them small opportunities to lead in the small group in which they attend. Have them lead worship in large group. There’s nothing wrong with taking steps to set them apart from the rest. These are kids who will spend a good amount of time each week within the church walls. Do everything you can to make that time feel special.

Arrange to keep them fed.

  • Provide a warm breakfast and healthy snacks for those arriving early and lunch for those staying throughout the day. Parents will appreciate the assistance because it makes volunteering easier. Kids will appreciate you because, well…you’re giving them food. Kids love to eat!

Invest money to keep them entertained and engaged.

  • A new video game system or basketball goal, on the surface, may seem like a waste of money. I would argue it’s one of the best expenditures you could make. A new game or toy is fun and exciting. A visit from the ice cream truck during Clubhouse hour brings a smile. Happy kids make happy moms and dads. Happy parents equate to higher volunteer and staff retention. If you want to grow your church, invest in those that hold the hearts and the attention of your volunteers and staff, their children.

Consider how every event, activity and extended service will affect them.

  • For the past few years, Elevation has had a choir on stage at Christmas. As you know, the holiday season can be a stressful time in which parents stay busy and kids feel rushed from one activity to the next. Add in hours of choir rehearsal and extra Christmas worship experiences, and you’ve got a recipe for exhaustion and burnout. A couple years back, we made a conscious decision to keep Clubhouse kids busy with a variety of entertaining activities. We scheduled cookie decorating workshops, Christmas movie marathons, Santa visits and more. Being aware of your church calendar and having a plan will help you avoid the question, “How much longer?”

Prepare for them in advance.

  • Arriving on Saturday night or Sunday morning and setting out coloring books and Monopoly isn’t enough. Kids like surprises. They want to be wowed. Book a video game truck. Set up a carnival. Hire an illusionist. Purchase the latest kids blockbuster and schedule an epic movie day. Spend time each week creating a plan that will amaze. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just intentional.

Make them feel special.

  • If your ministry has a prize based reward system, create an extra incentive just for staff and volunteer kids. Make name tags or t-shirts that identify them as someone special. Send gifts on their birthday. Don’t make the mistake of lumping staff and volunteer kids together with the masses. They are the future leaders of your ministry. Treat them as such and watch as they grow into Godly men and women.

Make exceptions to the rules.

  • By nature, I’m a rule follower. I like things a certain way and I want all players in any venture I take to abide by the guidelines set forth at the start. However, there are certain cases in which the old saying, “rules were meant to be broken,” rings true. The way you treat volunteer and staff kids is a prime example. For most of the kids in your Clubhouse area, their parents’ decision to serve also requires a sacrifice on their part. Whether it’s an extra bag of Oreos during snack time, or a blind eye turned towards an electronic gadget, allowing volunteer and staff kids a little extra leeway can go a long way.

Treat them as family.

  • Everyone wants to be included, to have a place to belong. We all want someone to notice our absences and ask about our week. Kids are no different. Show you are thinking of them by sending unexpected gifts: a frisbee at the beginning of summer, a set of mechanical pencils at the start of the school year, a special ornament at Christmas. Make it a point to ask about their latest baseball or soccer game. Celebrate accomplishments together. Families laugh, argue, forgive, play practical jokes on one another, and stand by each other. Your goal is to create a culture that is both welcoming but exclusive, familiar but exciting, intentional but FUN!

In a Multisite Model, each campus or location may have a Clubhouse environment unique to itself. That’s okay. Play to the space you have. If you’re in a permanent high tech facility, 4K movie screens and the latest video game systems may be ideal. If you’re a non-permanent campus, but have access to a gymnasium, invest in sports and field day equipment. If you’re in a ballet studio with mirrors on every wall, schedule hip hop instructors during your Clubhouse hour and teach kids to dance. (Yes, I once did this.) Wherever you find yourself, in whatever situation, there is a solution that works. Get creative. Remember the goal. Make church FUN!

Join us again next Multisite Monday for Part Two of this post, in which we’ll focus on the 8 Don’ts for Volunteer and Staff Kids.

To check out additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Jessica Bealer

 

Sample Clubhouse Schedule:

8:00AM Parent Drop-off / Free Play / Morning Movie

8:30AM Breakfast

9:00AM Cleanup

9:15AM Kids transfer to class

9:30AM Clubhouse kids attend first experience

11:00AM Clubhouse volunteers pick up kids from classrooms and transfer them back to the Clubhouse area.

11:15AM Lunch

11:45AM Cleanup

12:00PM Free Play / Video games / Crafting / Art / Boardgames / OCCASIONAL SPECIAL ELEMENT

12:45PM Snack

1:15PM Parent Pick-up

*Note: Clubhouse is available for volunteer and staff kids, ages 3 through 5th grade.

Overheard at #OC17

For Our Neighbors

Opening Session

“The next generation needs someone who has gone before them to be for them.” – Gerald Fadayomi

“Do you want to see my face? Was it what you were expecting?” – Danielle Strickland

“Jesus liked parties because Jesus loved people.” – Reggie Joiner

“We’ve got to stop acting like discipleship is about information and realize discipleship is about relationship.” – Reggie Joiner

“Some of your neighbors feel like you don’t love them becaue you act like you don’t like them.” – Reggie Joiner

Main Session 2

“The hardest thing in ministry with children is you don’t always get to see the results.” – Jon Acuff

“Freedom is not just an outside job, it’s an inside job.” – Danielle Strickland

“God is really in love with people, and you can’t dismiss people and be right with God.” – Andy Stanley

“If we’re not careful – intentional – we’ll orient children and students toward obeying invisible God rather than loving visible people.” – Andy Stanley

“What does love require of me?” – Andy Stanley

“Horizontal morality is less complicated but more demanding.” – Andy Stanley

“My generosity is because of what God has already given to me.” – Andy Stanley

Main Session 3

It was SERIOUSLY night….so seriously, I don’t have anything constructive to post…except that, “As Christians we should laugh more!”

Main Session 4

“God wants to show us radical grace. When we get to be a part of that, it changes us.” – Mike Foster

“We’re going to celebrate the misfits and the marginalized.” – Mike Foster

“If I’m going to reach outsiders, I’m going to have to go outside.” – Ryan Leak

Main Session 5

“Social media posts from churches are 99% about the church. What if our social media highlighted the community?” – Jeff Henderson

“A Neighbor minded church allows people to BELONG before they BELIEVE!” – Jeff Henderson

“A Neighbor minded church creates common ground instead of dividing lines.

Main Session 6

“We need to love schools without an agenda.” – Nicole Fulgham

“Sometimes I’m reluctant to get out of my comfort zone to meet my neighbors.” – Kara Powell

“The Gospel champions cause, not comfort.” – Kara Powell

“Love everybody always.” – Bob Goff

“I’m not trying to be RIGHT anymore. I’m trying to be JESUS.” – Bob Goff

“Don’t JESUS at them, just love them.” – Bob Goff

“God doesn’t want your help. He wants your heart.” – Bob Goff

Main Session 7

“We cannot afford to be in the conversations and dialogues at the level the world is. We have to raise the standard.” – Bernice King

“We have to be willing to lead the community and connect with someone who doesn’t look like us.” – Bernice King

“We’ll never all agree, but at the end of the day, we can find win-win solutions.” – Bernice King

“What killed my father was indifference and apathy and the absense of the people of God and the spirit of God.” – Bernice King

“If you hold a grudge long enough, that grudge will start holding you.” – Jud Wilhite

“The devil wants to take your bitterness and hurt and make it a foothold that he can make a stronghold.” – Jud Wilhite

“You’re free, but you’ve got to walk in it.” – Jud Wilhite

Main Session 8

“If you’ll live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” – Lecrae

“I may not condone everything you do, but I’m not there to condemn you.” – Lecrae

“When we are for our neighbors, we do more than just talk about it.” – Doug Fields

“There’s one Savior, and you’re not it.” – Doug Fields

“I’m suggesting a life that is less activity and more love.” – Doug Fields

“Busy is the enemy of neighborly.” – Doug Fields

“Go with confident expectation that God’s power is going to show up!” – Doug Fields

 

 

Making the Most of Orange Conference 2017

For Our Neighbors

If you’re in Atlanta at the Orange Conference, be prepared to drink from a fire hydrant for the next few days. Whether you’re in a main session or a breakout, you’re going to be inundated with more knowledge, wisdom, tips, solutions, strategies, vision, mission, and ideas than you could possibly absorb. Trust me, I know from experience! I started attending the Orange Conference before it was even called Orange Conference. Anyone remember Grow Up? Yes…I’ve been around a while.

I’ll never forget that first conference. I was 19 years old, hadn’t a clue about children’s ministry, and wasn’t particularly interested in learning more. I was a preacher’s kid and my dad was planting a church in rural East Tennessee. He knew we needed to make families a priority, but he didn’t know exactly what that meant. He sent me, his only child who didn’t particularly like children.

I was blown away! Kids could actually have fun at church? Students wanted to go to youth group? What!?! It changed everything for me, a tectonic shifting of my mind. That was 16 years ago. I’m still at it, and I’m still here at Orange Conference every year. Now I have the opportunity to stand on stage and help others understand the importance of a ministry that is outwardly focused, a strategy that says we are, “For Our Neighbors!”

If you’re joining me here at #OC17, I have just a few tips to help you make the most of your experience.

Tip #1: Listen, don’t talk.

You’re proud of what God is doing in your church and there’s nothing wrong with that. I believe you should brag on God’s handiwork whenever possible…except at Orange Conference. If you want to continue to see growth in your ministry, you’re going to need fresh ideas and problem-solving strategies. You’re at the right place. Close your mouth and open your mind.

Tip #2: Unpack each day.

You’re going to be tired at the end of each day. The sheer amount of focus it takes is exhausting. Your hand will ache from taking notes and your heavy eyes will yearn for the comforts of the hotel bed. Resist the temptation to skip debriefing with your team each day. Take 15 minutes to discuss your discoveries, any ideas you feel could be implemented, and your daily take-aways. If you wait until the bus or plane ride home, you’ll forget important details. Instead, make it a nightly routine.

Tip #3: Don’t skip stuff.

You’re going to be tempted to lay in the sunshine on the grassy hill or take an extra long lunch with your team and miss a breakout or main session. Don’t do it! You’re here because God desires to speak to you. There’s something you need to hear, but if you’re not in position and ready to go when the word is spoken, you’ll miss it. The Orange staff have worked hard to give you adequate down time. Use it wisely.

Tip #4: Start small.

You’re going to hear a lot of different ideas and strategies. They won’t all work for you or your situation. Every church is different, every ministry unique. You can’t and shouldn’t be just like anyone else. If you try to take back 50 new ideas, you’ll overwhelm your teams. Instead, clarify your vision and begin to implement one or two new initiatives. Family ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but don’t undermine your efforts with a million changes that can’t be measured or evaluated.

Tip #5: Network. Network. Network.

You’re surrounded by great leaders from around the world. The Orange Conference is a gathering of minds and passions. At some point over the next few weeks, months, or years you’re going to need an advisor, a listening ear, an unbiased friend, or an accountability parter. Who better than a peer who understands your daily struggles and triumphs? Initiate conversation, exchange contact information, and make new friends!

Tip #6: HAVE FUN!

Take a deep breath each morning. Put a smile on your face, and determine to enjoy every minute of #OC17!

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and I encourage you to come back all week. I’ll be updating the site daily with fantastic quotes from amazing leaders.

Jess Bealer