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.

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

5 Ways To Make It EASY To Attend Your Church

A Part of Multisite Monday

“We’re already running late, by the time we park at the back of the lot and get the kids checked in, we’ll miss most of worship.”

“I forgot to pack the baby bag last night. Even if I start now, we’ll never make it in time.”

“It’s raining and I can never keep the kids dry and get them in the building.”

“By the time we arrive, the kids will miss half the lesson.”

“I’m a single parent, and I’m embarrassed when I struggle to get my kids in by myself. I feel like everyone is looking at me.”

“I accidentally slept late and there is no way I can get my little ones changed and out the door in time to make it.”

“We don’t have time to eat breakfast and make it to church.”

“The good seats are always taken by the time I check my kids in and make it to the auditorium.”

and last but not least…

“We accidentally slept in, so we’re running late. My kids aren’t dressed. It’s raining and I can’t find the umbrella. I forgot to pack the baby bag last night, and now the dog is loose!”

I’m not sure how we can help with the family pet, but WE CAN AND SHOULD REMOVE all other obstacles.

Unchurched families (specifically parents) are unfamiliar with a Sunday routine that prioritizes your ministry. To be clear…they don’t know HOW to do church. Inconsequential delays often feel like insurmountable obstacles. Romans 10:14 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” In order for the Word of God to make an impact, one must first encounter it. Two thousand years ago, the problem facing the early church was a limited number of evangelists. In today’s society, there are a million things vying for the time and attention of every family that walks through your doors each weekend. In other words, your ministry has major competition.

If you want to connect with and make an impact on the families of today, you must intentionally remove as many hurdles as you can. Make it EASY for families to come to church. Here are 5 areas in which you can remove barriers and more adequately meet the needs of those coming through your doors.

1 – Family Parking / Assistance

Getting kids out of the car and into the church building can feel like a battle. There are a hundred things that need to be carried inside: bags, coats, car seats, strollers, toys, snacks, bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, even favorite stuffed animals. Their kids are cranky or may be struggling with separation anxiety. Moving vehicles and tiny, unpredictable feet in close proximity to each other create another level of stress. In addition, families tend to run late, and this equates to a backlot parking space as far from the church doors as possible. But what if you could simplify the parking problem?

Solution: Designate a Family Parking area close to the church building and give families door hangers marked as such. Instruct them to place the hanger on the rearview mirror of their car. As they pull into the lot, have parking volunteers show them where to park and assist them as they unpack their car, wrangle their children and make their way into the building.

2 – Reserved Seating

One of the biggest deterrents for parents is not knowing whether they will get a decent seat or any seat at all during optimal worship times.

Solution: Since we know it takes moms and dads longer to find their seat (because of child check-in and drop-off), designate a “good” seating section just for them. As parents are checking their children in, have a kids’ volunteer hand them a special pog, marker or ticket that lets them know you’ve saved them a seat. This will take the stress out of the drop-off process. They won’t feel rushed or frustrated when they end up sitting at the back of the room or in your overflow area.

3 – Umbrella Brigade

If you’re anything like me, you cringe when the forecast predicts rain or snow on Saturday night or Sunday morning. You know your numbers are going to be lower than usual. But what if you could ensure a dry, safe way for families to get from the parking lot to the door?

Solution: Send an email to all families two days prior. Reassure them you are prepared for inclement weather, and you’re ready to serve their family. Assign additional volunteers to your parking team. Shovel sidewalks and sprinkle salt for snow. Arm your team with ministry branded umbrellas and ponchos. Have umbrella bags and hand warmers readily available. The next time the weather forecast looks dreary, consider it an opportunity to shine. Unexpected excellence is impressive and impactful.

4 – Start Times

If parents believe they are running too late…they won’t come. Church may already feel like a hassle, but if it feels pointless as well, you’ve lost the battle completely.

Solution: Don’t open doors too early, no more than 20 minutes before a worship service is scheduled to begin. If parents think they or their child is at a disadvantage, they won’t make the effort. Offer ice-breaker activities to early arrivers, but don’t start teaching until late comers have a chance to get checked-in. Hold the main auditorium doors until five minutes after kids classrooms have opened. This allows parents to check-in their children and still obtain optimal seating.

5 – Stocked Supplies

Parents forget…everything. We’ve all done it. At some point you’ve walked out of the house without something of significance. If a parent feels the need to turn around and go back home, it’s likely they’ll not turn back and try again. However, if you’re prepared for any and all needs that may arise, the trek back home may be avoided.

Solution: Stock everything from bibs, pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups and diapers, to extra clothes and underwear for every stage of development. Keep Lunchables, fresh fruit, and cheese sticks in a mini fridge, along with extra snacks in the cabinets that take into account allergies and dietary restrictions. Consider stocking odd things like sunscreen, screwdrivers, extra batteries or wrapped presents. You never know when a carseat might need a screw tightened, or a child’s favorite toy just ran out of juice. Give often and freely. Never ask or expect parents to return anything. Instead, consider it a good investment into fertile soil. When you say, “We can help with that! No worries.” or “No breakfast this morning? We’ve got you covered.” you convey preparedness and excellence.

In a multisite model, this can only happen if you’ve set clear expectations and created volunteer coaching strategies to support your teams. A recommended supply list should be offered to kids directors. Parking hangers, umbrellas, and reserved seating tickets should be designed and distributed centrally. Vision must be cast before changes are made, and the “win” must be clearly defined.

When everything else has gone wrong, church should be a safe place for kids and parents. Moms and dads should feel as if they can come as they are: messed up, scattered, stressed out, frustrated, on edge, tired, beaten down and forgetful. When you intentionally plan for any and all circumstances, you give parents the freedom to relax, set aside distractions, to-do lists and responsibilities and simply respond to the message of Jesus Christ. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14

If you want your ministry to grow, make church easy. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Remove all obstacles and offer parents a safety net. Your goal is to help them forgo the daily grind and simply receive God’s Word.

For additional multisite articles, click here.

Jessica Bealer