Multisite Monday – The Magical Lanyard

So technically there’s nothing magical about the VIP lanyard that eKidz gives to every first-time guest during that initial check-in process, but what happens as a result is nothing short of a Diagon Alley or Hogwarts phenomenon.

It was designed for children, ages 3 and up, and serves four distinct purposes.

1 – The lanyard is a 4″ by 4″ square card printed with the VIP branding and secured by black plastic lacing. It’s bulky enough to grab the attention of staff and volunteers. It lets everyone know this particular child is a first-time guest and thus given extra attention, high fives, and dozens of warm greetings. It’s enough to make even the shiest of kids feel welcome and accepted.

2 – Kids are encouraged to take their lanyard and head to the information area to receive their First-Time Guest Gift, a custom slap bracelet branded with the eKidz logo. If kids head to the information area, parents will also. It’s a great strategy to engage with a first-time family, answer questions, and obtain feedback.

3 – Kids are encouraged to bring the lanyard back the next time they visit to receive their Second-Time Guest Gift, a custom glow-in-the-dark eKidz t-shirt. You may be thinking, “Aren’t you bribing them to come back?” Yes, that’s exactly the point. We want kids to come back and if a secondary prize achieves that mission, I’m okay with it.

4 – In large group, a kid wearing the VIP lanyard is automatically given bonus points for the game. Those points are “just enough” to give his or her team the edge over all other competitors to ensure a win. Yes…we rig the game. Remember, the goal is to create the best possible experience so kids will want to come back. In a kid’s mind, is there anything better than winning? Here’s where the magic happens. Regularly attending kids know that to win the game, they need a first-time guest on their team. That means as soon as a lanyard wearing child walks in the door, every kid in the room wants him or her on their team. Instant camaraderie. Immediate acceptance and belonging.

I LOVE an intentional first-time guest strategy, and my favorite part of the VIP process in eKidz at Elevation is the lanyard. In a multsite model, it’s important to synch your systems so that each guest at every location has the same experience and receives the same gifts.

Whatever your first-time guest process, it should serve to achieve the following.

  • It needs to make your guests feel special, as if you were waiting on them and are now celebrating their arrival.
  • It should have perceived value so there is incentive to return.
  • It needs to simplify the check-in process for subsequent visits.
  • It must, ultimately, help to establish a connection between their family and your ministry.

I hope you’ll join me again next Multisite Monday as we talk about family parking, umbrellas, and start times.

Jess Bealer

For additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

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.


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)



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 as we dig a little deeper into these two topics.

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Jess Bealer

Ensuring Alignment in Multisite Churches (Interview with Rich Birch)

Rich Birch is an incredible ministry leader who oversees

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

You’re INVITED to SPOIL Staff and Volunteers’ Kids this CHRISTMAS!

Part of Multisite Monday

WHO: Staff and volunteers’ kids who will be at multiple worship experiences on Christmas weekend

WHAT: An area with special programming designed to keep kids engaged and happy during a long ministry weekend. You might call it CHRISTMAS CLUBHOUSE!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • North Pole Workshop (A fun hour of Christmas crafts)
  • Santa’s Secret Shop (Kids can shop and wrap small presents for family members)
  • Polar Express Hour (Watch the movie, Polar Express, serve hot chocolate, and paint wooden trains purchased from your local craft store)
  • Visit From Santa (Have Santa visit your Christmas Clubhouse and hand out small presents to every child in attendance)
  • Winter Wonderland (Make snowflakes out of copy paper and use a blender to serve snow cream or ice cream)
  • Reindeer Games (A full hour of Christmas themed games and team building activities)
  • Christmas Bakery (Let kids decorate and package cookies to give as gifts to their parents and loved ones)
  • Holly Jolly Buffet (A colorful buffet consisting of red and green food and drink)

WHEN: If you have three or less Christmas experience times, you may want to schedule a single Christmas Clubhouse experience. If you have more than three worship experiences, it’s important to consider how many times you are asking volunteers to serve over the course of the weekend. If you have six services, and you’re asking volunteers to serve three of the six, you’ll want to offer additional Christmas Clubhouse experiences. I would suggest two Christmas Clubhouse experiences for every three services scheduled. Make a schedule of events and email to staff and volunteers letting them know ahead of time what activities are planned for each service.

WHERE: Set aside a room or area within your ministry space for your Christmas Clubhouse experiences. If you can’t find space in your current area, connect with other staff members and see what space, outside of the children’s area, may be available. Make sure to station a safety or security volunteer just outside the door, but don’t be afraid to mix it up this Christmas and step outside the norm. The room should be decorated and prepped before kids arrive. You want them to step foot into a magical Christmas land in which they never want to leave. Think you don’t have enough space? Remember you’re going to be removing a good percentage of children from your normal kids programming. This should free up space and volunteers to help.

WHY: It’s going to be an exciting Christmas weekend. Attendance will be up. People far from God will experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Families will be reunited and choirs of angels will rejoice as the people of God celebrate His Son’s birth. I know your personal capacity is stretched. I know you’re dreaming about room ratios and spending every extra minute in the craft aisle at Target. You’re busy to the extreme. However, if you want to truly minister and care for those in your ministry, you won’t neglect the families that ensure successful execution week after week. Make the effort. Find the funds. Kids will love you. Parents will thank you. Instead of navigating a Christmas Eve with grumpy, exhausted, bored kids, moms and dads will appreciate the excited stories of their children’s Christmas Clubhouse experiences.

In a Multisite Model, it’s important for each campus kids director to look at the space he or she has to work with and make plans accordingly. Your Christmas Clubhouse experiences may vary from location to location. Find a few volunteers at each campus who love kids and have an abundance of Christmas spirit. Make a plan, give them a budget and hand over the reigns. You’ll be surprised the lengths a volunteer team will go to ensure a Holly Jolly holiday season for the families they serve most often.

I’d love to hear from you. What other fun things are you doing to engage staff and volunteers’ kids this Christmas?

I hope you’ll come back every Monday throughout the month of December as we discuss and unpack ministry systems and strategy this holiday season.

Click here to check out additional Multisite Monday articles.

For more ministry ideas and strategies, check out my new book, Don’t Quit, available now at Amazon or at

Jess Bealer