Multisite Monday – YOU get a t-shirt, and YOU get a t-shirt, and YOU get a t-shirt…

I believe language has the ability to destroy or unite. Your words can either undermine or advance your ministry. A strong set of values can give you a lens by which you measure each system, initiative, or strategy.

In eKidz, we tried to keep them simple and concise. Here they are, in order of importance.

We Will Make It Safe.

We Will Share Jesus With Passion.

We Will Bring The Fun.

We Will Connect The Family.

You may be thinking, “Safety comes before Jesus?” Yes, it does. Parents must feel comfortable with your environment before they are willing to entrust you with their child. Safety comes first…always. At Elevation, one of the ways we strived to give parents peace of mind was through the implementation of a t-shirt policy. Every kids volunteer at every location is required to wear a blue eKidz t-shirt while serving. It’s ingrained into the volunteer culture.

Of course, there were objections. With the introduction of any new strategy, there will be some level of resistance. However, if you have defined values and a common language, it’s much easier to create unity among your teams.

Here are four common objections you will encounter with a new t-shirt policy, as well as possible responses you might use to clarify the vision.

Objection: “I don’t want to wear the same thing to church every week.”

Your Response: “I understand. The t-shirt offers parents peace of mind. It says we trust you, as a volunteer, and it relays that you are operating on behalf of the church. Maybe you could bring another shirt to change into once your volunteer role is complete?”

Objection: “My shirt is faded, stained, too small…”

Your Response: “I’m so sorry! If you’ll tell me your size, I’ll go get you another one or I’ll ship it to your home this week. The t-shirt helps new parents easily identify kids volunteers, and we always want to simplify things for our first time guests.”

Objection: “I forgot it at home. I’ll remember next time.”

Your Response: “Ok, that’s no big deal. I keep a stash of spare t-shirts. If you’ll just bring it back to me at the end of the day, I’ll wash it and have it ready for the next volunteer who needs it.”

Objection: “It’s just so bland.

Your Response: “I understand. You are more than welcome to customize it. You can bedazzle it or accessorize it, or even wear a cardigan over it. We just want families to be able to easily identify the volunteers that will be caring and ministering to their children.”

Be prepared. If you’re planning to make this shift, I would encourage you to cast vision on the front end. Prepare your teams weeks or even months in advance. Allow them to suggest color options or even design. Clarify your reasoning and get your leaders onboard and able to communicate the why behind the shift. Remember to use your ministry’s unique language to create unity throughout the process. If you haven’t yet created a set of values, that’s your starting point. Bring your staff and key leaders together. Determine what’s most important. Then develop a common language that clearly expresses those intentions.

For multisite, a t-shirt policy can be an easy way to unify your campus strategy and prioritize safety. It’s also a source of comfort for parents when they attend a location that isn’t within their normal routine. It feels familiar and soothes anxiety. It’s a small touch that can make a big difference in a multisite model.

Have I convinced you yet? If so, you’re going to need talking points.

What’s the benefit?

  • It helps your safety or security team identify who should and shouldn’t be in your kids area.
  • It reassures parents the person they are entrusting with their child is a legitimate volunteer acting on behalf of and within the authority of the church.
  • It conveys excellence.
  • It surpasses parents’ expectations.
  • It’s a familiar comfort to the children you minister to.

If your church or ministry has implemented a kids volunteer t-shirt policy or you are in the process of doing so, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

I hope you’ll come back to FamilyMinistry.Church every Monday as we continue to unpack multisite ministry.

Jess Bealer

Kidmin Multisite – The Infrastructure of Evaluation

Part Of Multisite Monday

 

In recent years, EVALUATION has become a buzzword in ministry. Growing up a preacher’s kid, I distinctly remember phrases like, “We’re not growing in number, but we’re growing in depth,” or “It doesn’t matter how many people show up if one person gives his or her life to Jesus, it’s worth it.” I also remember my dad shaking his head and saying, “No. If we can’t measure success, it’s time and money wasted.” I’m not speaking in absolutes. I’m sure there are actions you could take or ministries you could launch to further God’s kingdom that would be difficult to measure. However, I also know that defining victory increases your odds of success.

Family Ministry is one big puzzle made up of a thousand different pieces. It would be simple if we could look at our teams and say, “I trust you. Now go do a good job!” The problem is that success, if not defined, is subjective. Everyone will have a different take and those varying perspectives may not align with the purpose or vision of your ministry.

Policies, procedures, standards, and systems don’t handcuff your teams, they free them. They grant the authority necessary to meet expectations. They empower volunteers to identify solutions within the parameters you’ve set, and they clearly define boundaries. I call this the infrastructure of EVALUATION. In a multisite model, a strong foundation is essential if you want excellence to translate from one location to another, but that requires a clear set of blueprints. Below you will find a list to help get you started.

Atmosphere

Room Ratios / Small Group Ratios

Toy Replacement / Standards

Signage Requirements / Standards

Large Group Quality Control (Run-through / Actors)

Minimum Standards (By Area)

 

Policy and Procedures

First Time Guest Welcome Procedure

First Time Guest Follow-Up Plan

Special Needs Family Procedures

Child Bathroom Policy

Diaper Changing Policy

Infant Feeding Procedures

Snack Restrictions / Policy

Check-In / Check-Out Procedures

Room Opening / Closing Procedures

Tear-down / Set-up Procedures

Incident Reporting System

Safety / Security Standards

Evacuation Plan

Active Shooter Policy

Curriculum Distribution Procedures

Transition(s) Plan (Small Group / Large Group)

Parent Paging System (During the Service)

 

Volunteers

Volunteer Communication / Feedback Plan

New Volunteer On-boarding Procedures

Volunteer Training / Coaching Plan

Volunteer Appreciation Plan

Volunteers’ Children Care Plan

Volunteer Dress Code

Supply Needs / Communication Procedures

Setting clear expectations for your teams allows for advancement and accountability. This list isn’t a catchall. As your ministry changes and expands, additional policies and procedures may be necessary. Your current systems and standards will most likely be null and void a year from now if you’re experiencing growth. Building the infrastructure in advance will ensure you’re ready for all God has planned for your ministry.

I hope you’ll join me again next week on FamilyMinistry.Church for Multisite Monday as we discuss systemizing Volunteer Appreciation!

Jess Bealer

KIDMIN MULTISITE – The Importance of Atmosphere

Part of Multisite Monday

 

Whether you are contemplating a multisite strategy or already have ten locations, it’s important to consider what the atmosphere you are creating says about you. I think of atmosphere as the hardest working or (in some cases) the most underperforming volunteer you have. It’s either creating momentum or diminishing your effectiveness.

Atmosphere is the first and last thing parents notice as they are entering or exiting your facility. It sends a message, intended or not, about what’s important to you. Let me explain.

There was a season when launching the children’s ministry for Elevation Gaston in which we had not identified a campus kids director. Since I was launching the campus anyway, I stepped into that role for a few weeks. I will never forget standing near the door one morning, as families were exiting, and hearing, “Man, that toddler room stinks. They really need to change those kids’ diapers.” I had an irrational desire to chase down that dad and explain how each child’s diaper is changed at least once during every worship experience. That was probably the reason why the room stunk so badly to begin with, but because of a slight oversight on my part, we were judged as uncaring, inattentive, and unsanitary. You better believe the next week we implemented an air freshening system. We installed a scent machine just outside the baby and toddler rooms and assigned a volunteer to spray Febreze before, during, and following each worship experience. We also moved the changing table away from the door area and purchased a scent reducing diaper pale.

The smell of your rooms and hallways may seem inconsequential, but whether you like it or not, EVERY minute detail of EVERY aspect of EVERY area of your ministry will be noticed, considered, and judged by a parent. The question is will your atmosphere make a lasting impression or be found wanting? As you are reading this article, there may be aspects of your ministry that pop into your head. That’s great! The more aware you are of the shortfalls, the easier they are to rectify. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few steps to get you thinking at the right level.

START by listing adjectives you would like for parents to associate with your ministry. Here are some examples. You can create your own list.

Clean              Safe                 Effective

Bright             Fun                 Peaceful

Loving             Organized      Friendly

Efficient          Welcoming     Modern

THEN evaluate your current atmosphere. Identify the areas in which your current environments contradict one or more of the words you wrote down.

FINALLY, write out a few sentences that help to clarify atmospheric goals for your team and make an actionable plan to align your reality with your vision.

Here’s an example:

Each room should be neat, clean, and smell nice. There should be minimum furniture, but contain the necessary components to adequately care for the children or students we serve. The rooms should have a modern, minimalistic feel. Every area should be fresh and bright.

Once the vision is clear, the teams you lead can help you establish and maintain those minimum standards. Here are two examples, one permanent and one non-permanent, of what can happen when you clarify the vision and make a specific charge to your volunteers.

 

 

Still need help getting started? Ask yourself these questions as you begin to evaluate your atmosphere.

Can first time guests clearly identify kid or student check-in upon entering the building?

Is my directional signage clear and current?

Are my rooms neat and clutter free?

How do my rooms and hallways smell before, during, and after the worship service?

Is there age appropriate music in the hallways or classrooms during drop-off and pick-up?

Do I have a designated volunteer at each classroom or theater to greet families and assist during pick-up?

Do my volunteers convey fluster and frustration or energy and enthusiasm?

Am I conveying excellence with my commitment to detail?

Are my rooms sterilized? Do I have hand sanitizer at every door and check-in station? Are the rooms vacuumed and cleaned prior to and between each worship service?

Is my wellness policy easily understood and posted in a noticeable way?

Are my rooms well stocked with needed snacks, supplies, and teaching resources?

Is there security (paid or volunteer) present and easily visible?

Every week parents entrust us with their most valuable treasure, their child. There is nothing they wouldn’t do for them, no limit to their love. Keeping that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise they have high expectations of us. The fact remains, no matter how amazing the worship music, how relevant the sermon, or how friendly the volunteers, if a parent feels their child was unsafe, uncared for, or unengaged, they won’t be back. Your atmosphere sets the stage for successful interactions with parents. It leaves a lasting impression that can create hesitation or construct confidence.

Join me again next Multisite Monday as we look at the necessary tool of EVALUATION.

For more on Kidmin Multisite Click Here

Jess Bealer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIDMIN MULTISITE – Where to start

Part of Multisite Monday

“Here’s the plan…we need you to launch in six weeks. We want you to focus on the Rock Hill, South Carolina portable location, but we haven’t identified a children’s director for the University portable location, so we’ll need you to help order supplies and organize that one as well. The plan is to launch both locations on the same day, September 11, 2011. You good with that?”

This was the start of my journey into multisite. It was one of my first “official” conversations I had as a staff member of Elevation Church. To say it was overwhelming would be a gross understatement. I had no idea what I was doing. My response…

“For sure. How much money do I have to spend?”

It wasn’t as if the idea of multisite church was new to me. My husband and I had been around Elevation for nearly two years. At the time, there were already three locations, so I had a clear picture of what my supervisor was asking me to replicate. I had even helped my dad (I’m a preacher’s kid) launch three locations of a start-up church in a rural area of East Tennessee, but…this was different. Elevation wanted something specific. It needed to look, feel, and operate with the efficiency and excellence of a seasoned location, only with a whole new volunteer base, a campus pastor who was so new the ink on his Ordination Certificate hadn’t even dried yet (my husband), and no written instructions or documents.

“Oh! And we’re planning to do this again in the future, so can you keep track of what you order and how much it costs? That’ll make it easier in the future.”

I smiled and said, “Got it.”

I was a baby, an infant in the ministry world. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and I made a ton of mistakes. I also learned a lot. I wouldn’t change a thing. Actually, on second thought, the nylon canopy of leaves over the baby and toddler rooms that took a team of volunteers nearly an hour to hang every week was definitely a misstep. However, jumping off the ledge and plunging face first into kidmin multisite was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Fast forward nearly six years and I’ve had the opportunity to launch the children’s ministry at fifteen Elevation Church locations, some permanent, some non-permanent. Each and every one was life changing, not just for the people who attended, but for me personally. There is no high, no mountain-top ministry moment, I’ve ever experienced that compares to the hours before the door opens at a new location, nothing more fulfilling than seeing kids come to know Christ and know through sacrifice and obedience, God used you to make that moment possible.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, a launch looming, an untold adventure on the horizon, I want to take just a moment to share 5 questions that your team needs to be asking.

 

What is non-negotiable?

These are the things you want to be known for, the things that make you…you. In eKidz at Elevation, the #1 eKidz Value is, “We Will Make It Safe.” This means every blueprint, every transition, every item purchased has to first meet the safety standard. This conveys excellence to parents and builds trust. This is one non-negotiable. There are more than a dozen. Before you even consider moving to a multisite model, I suggest you put to paper what your ministry’s non-negotiables are. Knowing who you are and what you want to be identified as is a great starting point.

 

What are the priorities?

Don’t be confused, priorities are not the same as non-negotiables. However, one does lead to the other. Knowing your non-negotiables helps you establish your priorities. I know you want every aspect of each room to be superb, but let’s get real. Your budget is less than you hoped. Your timeframe may be as well. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are limited. I’ve never launched a location in which I looked at every room, every system, every supply and thought, “Yes! We nailed it!” You have to sacrifice somewhere. List the areas / rooms that must be prioritized. Don’t ignore the other areas, but choose to unfairly invest in that which you deem most important. (Tip: Start by resourcing small group leaders well and focusing on areas parents will see.)

 

What are the Haves / Needs?

I’m talking about human resources here. The most daunting task of any launch is volunteer staffing. Where are all those volunteers going to come from? Let me assure you…you’ll get there. With intentionality and a plan, you can and will meet those volunteer ratios, but it all starts with knowing the numbers. Identify the unique number of volunteers you need and compare that with what you already have. For example, if you have two preschool rooms that need four volunteers each, and you’ve already identified three, you need five additional volunteers. That seems much less daunting then saying, “We need to staff our preschool rooms.” Identify what you need, compare to what you have, and start recruiting.

 

How is leadership structured?

Unless you are a church of less than a hundred, it’s imperative that you have layers of leadership. You can’t be present during every parent interaction or technological mishap. You need leaders with a calm spirit and a mature perspective to act on your behalf when you are unavailable. Not every leadership position needs to be filled by launch day, but a leadership structure is an absolute must. An organizational leadership chart provides clarity to your volunteer base and gives them both a resource when problems arise and a sounding board for ideas. How will you structure your teams? Who will individuals report to? Who will report to you? (Tip: If you’re unsure of someone’s leadership potential, ask him or her to fill a position on an interim basis. You can see them at work and decide whether or not to make it a permanent position.)

 

How can I create ownership from the start?

Launching a campus or location is an experience unique to itself. It’s rewarding, frustrating, tiring, and life giving. It’s also an incredible bonding experience. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to launch nearly twenty locations with thousands of volunteers from all walks of life. Most of them I consider a close friend. You’re probably thinking, “Really? You have thousands of close friends?” Yes and No. Do I call them when my kids are driving me crazy and I need to vent? No. Do I know I could reach out to them if a dire ministry need arose? For sure. There is a special bond that forms as you prepare and serve alongside someone during launch season. Don’t squander the relational equity built throughout the journey. Find ways to empower your teams to buy-in and take ownership. Assign projects and trust them to complete each and every one. Ask for opinions and take suggestions. Don’t get caught up in personal preference. Everything feels important. It’s not. Your relationships with those you launch are of upmost priority. (Tip: Don’t open packages, make copies, or organize drawers. Let your teams do it. Allowing them to play a part creates ownership and builds momentum.)

Thinking and planning is the precedent for success in a multisite strategy. I hope these questions have provided you with a good starting point.

Over the next few months I’m going to be focusing on two things on FamilyMinistry.Church, Kidmin Multisite and Becoming a Wednesday Woman. The former should provide insight on how to develop an effective children’s ministry within a multisite strategy. The latter is a passion of mine. Women are called to lead in great capacities. We bring a unique perspective and in many ways, can accomplish what our male counterparts often struggle with. The key is perspective, approach, and discipline. I hope you’ll make it a priority to join me here on familyministry.church as we dig a little deeper into these two topics.

Click ‘Subscribe‘ to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Jess Bealer

Ensuring Alignment in Multisite Churches (Interview with Rich Birch)

Rich Birch is an incredible ministry leader who oversees unseminary.com

Recently I was able to sit down with him to discuss some of the opportunities involving a Multisite approach to ministry.

To read watch the video, read the full transcript and to learn more from @richbirch , click here

15 FRESH Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

Part of Multisite Monday

My new book, Don’t Quit, releases on September 8th. Coauthored with Gina McClain, it is written in such a way to offer insight on a variety of ministry topics, as well as inspire leaders to never raise the white flag of surrender. In our original pitch to the publisher, we shared our passion and commitment to see ministry leaders equipped, empowered, and strengthened to run the marathon race that is ministry. In several chapters we directly address volunteer systems and strategies. Volunteers are the lifeblood of ministry. The stronger your teams, the greater the impact.

If you plan to be in ministry for any length of time, you need support. While healthy familial relationships are important, that’s not what I’m referring to. You need passionate, dedicated individuals who are committed to seeing God move in and through your ministry.  In one of the chapters I share a formula to help volunteers last longer:

Clarity + Empowerment + Appreciation = Longevity.

Today I want to focus on the appreciation variable of that equation. Effective appreciation is shown on an individual basis. It celebrates, encourages, and publicly acknowledges excellence. Below you will find 15 volunteer appreciation ideas to help you care for the teams of volunteers and leaders who’ve been placed in your charge.

PRACTICALLY FREE

  • Use Siri to make the most of your drive time. Record voice messages and send to unsuspecting volunteers. Don’t ask anything of them. Check in, say a quick prayer and thank them for what they do. Be as specific as possible with your gratitude.
  • Mark off thirty minutes in your calendar each week to write cards, send emails and make calls. Don’t allow this small amount of time to be eaten up with administrative meetings or unscheduled standing conversations.
  • During your volunteer meeting or rally choose one person to honor each week. Tell his or her story, how he or she connected with the church and how he or she is making a difference in the lives of kids and families. Remember to choose only deserving volunteers to honor. Never point to someone who is lacking drive or commitment and say, “Be like them.”
  • Every other Saturday evening plan to bake a batch of cookies, brownies or muffins. Wrap them up, attach a note and bring to one or two volunteers for no other reason than you were thinking of them.
  • In your weekly curriculum email or volunteer newsletter, choose one volunteer to highlight each week. Tell about his or her family, hobbies, career, and passions. Provide a picture or two so volunteers from other teams can identify him or her and say hello.

ON THE CHEAP

  • Want to draw attention to a select few volunteers. Rent or purchase a small helium tank. Write notes of thanks and place them inside balloons. Use helium to inflate the balloons and tie them onto cars in the parking lot. Not only will it draw the intrigue and attention of attenders, but your volunteers’ last interaction with your ministry for the day will be one of gratitude and appreciation.
  • Create a ‘favorites form’ in which volunteers can share their preferred candy, restaurant, coffee order, color, hobby, etc. Keep these forms on file to use as needed. Not only will you be ready to show appreciation when the time is right, but you’ll also know exactly what to purchase to make a lasting impression. Appreciating your volunteers begins with knowing your volunteers. This is a great step in the right direction.
  • Set up a card-making center where volunteers can write thank-you notes to one another when they want to express gratitude. Provide $5 gift cards, candy, glitter pens and stickers. Ask area leaders to write two cards and team managers to write one card every week. Have these leaders write the first and last name of the person they are appreciating on the front. You can add the mailing address on Monday or Tuesday and drop them off at the post office. The number of appreciation cards you send each week will quadruple with very little added work for you. In addition, your volunteers will treasure the opportunity to highlight the efforts of their peers.
  • Have a variety of gifts purchased, wrapped and waiting to be given out at just the right moment. The best time to show appreciation is as soon as possible. When you notice a volunteer patiently comforting a crying child or scrubbing down a bathroom sink, grab a previously wrapped gift and attach a note. Don’t wait to say, “Thank you!” (Examples include a nice lotion set, a book on leadership, a pair of earrings, a car wash gift certificate, a travel coffee mug, a journal, or a gift card to a local eatery.)
  • Honor your team members by gifting them a special t-shirt on their one or two year volunteer anniversary. Consistency and commitment should be celebrated and publicly recognized.

FEELING GENEROUS

  • Have a particular team that consistently hits a home run? Schedule for their cars to be washed and detailed while they serve. Have them lined up, sparkling and ready to go when they head home.
  • Want to splurge on volunteers who have selflessly signed up to serve during Easter or Christmas experiences? Create a mobile coffee or hot chocolate cart and hire a barista to serve custom made hot drinks between experiences.
  • Have college students serving for the summer and want to thank them for stepping up when rosters are thin and regularly scheduled volunteers are traveling? Order travel mugs from the schools or colleges they will be returning to in the fall and fill them with their favorite candy or snack food. This will show your gratitude and reinforce the behavior for summers to come.
  • Want to welcome new sign-ups and help build community among teams? Book an ice-cream truck for the day and encourage leaders to bring their teams to share an icee and get to know their new teammates.
  • Want to show gratitude and increase relational equity with those special few leaders who go above and beyond to help your ministry make a greater impact? Schedule a cooking class and enjoy a hands on approach to dinner. Have fun, enjoy the process but don’t talk about ministry issues. Relational equity is rooted in friendship.

In a multisite model, volunteer appreciation must be systemized. Let me be clear…it has to be BUDGETED! A multisite model is complex and multilayered. If your church doesn’t set aside money to honor, encourage, and show gratitude for those who invest time and energy into your ministry, those individuals will be neglected. Neglect leads to dissatisfaction, which leads to disengagement and resignation. If you want to keep your ministry healthy, adjust your schedule and budget to accommodate for the care and encouragement of those who help you succeed each and every week.

(Tip: When deciding how much money to set aside in your budget for volunteer appreciation, first decide on the initiatives you want to pursue. Estimate the total cost of those initiatives and then divide that amount on a per capita basis in accordance with the number of volunteers you have at each campus. This will give you a per volunteer amount and allow you to estimate how much a single campus or location will need to adequately care for its volunteer base.)

I hope you find these ideas helpful and I hope you’ll consider purchasing Don’t Quit on September 8th.

For additional multisite articles, click HERE.

Jess Bealer