Managing Growth in Children’s Ministry
Principles for managing the happy problem of a growing children’s ministry
Consistency is important. At All Saints Dallas we keep the lesson plans in the same format so the children and their teachers know what to expect. Activities, games and crafts change each week, but they always support the lesson and happen in the same order and in the same area.
A user-friendly curriculum is essential. Our volunteer staff need to feel they can succeed even if they only have 15 minutes to look over the lesson before they teach. Our current curriculum has a three-year cycle. Lessons are prepared and sent out on Thursdays, and everything is ready to go when they enter the room.
A strong volunteer base is crucial, as is developing team and a culture of caring for each other and the children. We keep in mind the fact that volunteers are giving the gift of their time to the ministry. We maintain a culture of appreciation and gratitude mixed with a little bit of guilt.
Other building blocks for a successful children’s program
First, safety. All volunteers go through a four-step process that includes background checks, online abuse prevention training and face-to-face interviews. In addition, we have had our facility vetted by child safety professionals who are top in their field.
Second, engaging lessons. We prepare the lesson plans for each group every week, editing and including developmentally appropriate crafts, games and extra content. Crafts are researched and ready to go in the rooms. We supplement the lesson ideas through short video snippets. We have a good mix of hands-on activities, and sometimes use puppets, fine art and/or flannel graph cutouts.
Third, gentle discipline. The learning environment should echo the content. We want to talk about Jesus in a way that honors who he is. Kindness and courtesy toward the children and each other sets the stage for understanding that God loves us. Relaxed discipline that keeps the classroom orderly and yet flexible shows respect for the group. Asking questions in a thoughtful way contributes to an atmosphere that honors God and each individual person.
Christia Caudle is the Family Ministries Coordinator at All Saints Dallas. Christia brings a creative approach to communication with children, along with attention to detail and joy in everyday life. In addition to her work at ASD, Christia is a professional actress, wife to husband Tom and mother of three grown children.