Multisite Monday: Clothespins and Twister

If you follow my husband or I on social media, you know we recently relocated our family of six from Charlotte, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia. After leading the family ministry of Elevation Church for the past five years, we felt God calling us to something new, a journey that would require us to move more than 250 miles.

Most of you have experienced the stress and strain of relocation at one point or another. If you happen to be like me, a Type A control freak with a touch of obsessive compulsive, you understand “moving” translates into ground work. What can I do now to prepare for successful tomorrows?

Ten days in and I can say it’s been relatively painless. Frank and I have moved several times in our 16 years of marriage and none of those were as smooth as this one. Without a doubt God was at work, but we’ve always relied on God to guide us to what’s next. So for the past few days, I’ve been asking myself why this particular move was easier than those in the past. Today I had a lightbulb moment. The answer…my experience with multisite. When preparing to launch a new location, I begin by asking myself and my team several key questions. These questions help as I sketch layouts, design rooms, prepare systems and purchase resources. As I prepared our family for an interstate move, I found myself asking these same questions. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

How many rooms do we need? How many will we have?

Depending on your location, you may or may not have the ideal number of rooms you desire. You may have to combine age groups or make compromises based on your ministry values and priorities. Knowing what you have to work with is your starting point.

How will we ensure safety and standards in the allotted space?

Safety must always be a top consideration. If a classroom cannot be made safe or protected by your security team, it doesn’t make the cut. In a permanent multisite model, this means ensuring every room is thoroughly examined from as early as the blueprint stage. In a non-permanent model, the launching children’s director must see and measure each room before the first purchase order has been made. Excellence in the area of safety is the foundation in which you will build everything else.

What can parents and kids expect to see when they stand at the door of each classroom?

From wall and floor color palettes and furniture selections to age appropriate toys and supply needs, every detail matters. Are your rooms inviting? Are they bright and clean? Does it look like a fun zone or a school zone? It’s important to remember you’re trying to make a great first impression with kids and their parents.

What systems will we have in place to make drop-off and pick-up efficient and effective?

I talk about drop-off and pick-up procedures frequently. These two systems can make or break your ministry. Efficient drop-off systems take into account the quickness of your processes, while effectiveness allows for connectivity during each transition. When preparing to launch a location, its crucial to consider both.

How can we be prepared for anything and everything that may occur?

When a mom asks if you have an extra bottle because she left the one she prepared sitting on the kitchen counter, will you have one to offer? When a preschooler on the playground wets her dress because she was having too much fun for a bathroom break, will you have a change of clothes? When a boy in your 3rd grade small group shares that he woke up late and didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast, will you provide a healthy snack? What about rainy day activities? Vomit clean-up? Stainless steel wipes to keep water fountains sparkling clean? Extra vacuum cleaners for between service touch-ups? Gluten free and allergy considerate snack alternatives? Dissolving bottle labels to eliminate formula mix-ups? Wax paper sheets to protect the diaper changing pad cover? Dishwashing nets so bottle nipples and pacifiers stay in place and are sanitized thoroughly?

Maybe you’re thinking these items are excessive or a waste of money. I would contend that one or two fully engaged families will give more annually than all of these expenses combined. Families that feel well cared for will care for your ministry. Every detail matters. Every resource purchased creates an opportunity to serve those God has entrusted to you.

In a multisite model, it’s imperative to conduct a mock experience in every classroom or theater prior to launch. You need to know, in advance, your weak points, missing supplies and volunteer concerns. The only way to catch the smallest of details is to schedule a full run-through. Have volunteers check their children in and drop them off in their assigned rooms. Plan programming as you would during any normal weekend experience, and offer volunteers a way to communicate feedback and request additional supplies.

I’ve had the opportunity to launch the children’s ministry of 16 locations. My first launch for Elevation Church was a non-permanent campus in a local high school. We transformed classrooms into kid-friendly environments using pipe and drape to cover the walls and foam puzzle mats on the floor. During our scheduled run-through we noticed two major problems. In our baby and toddler rooms, curiosity had our young walkers tugging open the drape to peek behind the colorful makeshift walls. In our Clubhouse room (the area set aside for staff and volunteer kids) only a handful of children were interested in watching the featured movie or playing the video games provided. Most were bursting with energy and desired more interactive play. In the grand scheme of things, these two problems may seem inconsequential, but when safety is your #1 value and volunteers are the lifeblood of your ministry, finding viable solutions is a must.

Clothespins and Twister. One Walmart run and $20 later, we were set for launch Sunday. If you’re preparing for launch season, make sure to ask the right questions and schedule multiple run-throughs. Laying the ground work today will set you up for success tomorrow.

And if you’re moving, I wish you all the best. Remember…asking the right questions and laying the ground work is key to success in that venture as well.

I hope you’ll join me again next Multisite Monday as we discuss Clubhouse, an area designed to keep staff and volunteer kids loving church.

For additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Jessica Bealer

Jessica Bealer has been leading children’s ministry for 17 years. The last five years have been spent overseeing standards, systems, staffing and atmosphere for the children’s ministry of Elevation Church. She has overseen the launch of nearly twenty locations, and is considered a specialist in kidmin multisite. Jessica is a mother of four and published author. She is married to Frank, the CEO of Phase Family Centers and Executive Director of Leadership Development at Orange. Together they are the founders of FamilyMinistry.Church.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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