It takes a lot of courage for lay and clergy leadership in a church to invite consultants in the house. A humble spirit of “Yes, I’m willing to allow fresh eyes on my spiritual heart and my physical presence,” doesn’t speak of failure or defeat. Rather it speaks of a rumbling of the Holy Spirit within the Body of Christ that says, “We want different God-honoring results, so we have to be willing to do something different. And we need a little help with knowing some ways to do it differently.” I get to do that in the area of ministry to children through a great group, Proactive Ministries (https://www.facebook.com/Proactive.Ministries.)
In the words of Rick Chromey, author of Energizing Children’s Ministry in the Smaller Church, he calls it an opportunity to stand as a guide from the side, rather than a sage from the stage. This guide-from-the-side spent last weekend with a church that needed some ideas to market their ministries to little people.
I totally get those folks in the local church who express displeasure with marketing ministry like “the world.” But if our goal is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we gotta have kids to make disciples of. We have to get them in the door. I am shameless for what I love. I love Jesus and I love the local church. I am a shameless promoter of both.
Last week I spent a few days with a precious church in east Texas who graciously invited me to share in that particular area. The personal coaching time I shared with the current KidMin Director probably looked more like throwing a huge pot of spaghetti against the wall and hoping something stuck. It’s been my experience that marketing and promoting opportunities for kids to grow, tell, serve, worship, and belong with the goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ is worth it’s own strategies, and maybe it’s own budget line-item. Here are just a few of what we came up with…
– Pray for “more”.
– Ask other groups in the church to pray for “more,” especially the saints of the church who gather for prayer meetings.
– On the church’s website or web presence, know that new people recognize what a church sees as important by the order in which the staff are listed. Any staff specific to children must be close to the top. The photo needs to make him/her look attractive, kid friendly, and the bio should express who he/she is, not just what they do. New parents want to know who is on the bus with them as they travel the roads of spiritual parenting.
– The job description of the person responsible for KidMin in the smaller church should include a large percentage of his/her time in marketing, promoting, and communicating what’s going on. It’s been my experience that smaller churches hire their super volunteer who are the hands and feet of the ministry. But smaller churches really need a mouth to move to the next level. Shamelessly promoting any experience to my kids takes about 25-30% of my time each week.
– Coordinate open-house-like field trips, aka meet and greet opportunities, a couple times of year, especially if the children’s area is distant from the tall people areas. We use Pentacost Sunday at WC with the kids and youth inviting every Sunday School class or other small group to a birthday breakfast in the gym during the Sunday School hour to bump elbows, as one opportunity. The kids do the decorating, setting up, cleaning up, and we teach them how to “work the room.”
– Prioritize website, bulletin, and before/after service PowerPoint slides with photos to include children and youth.
– Offer a photo and facebook release to be signed by parents/grandparents so the families will be expecting to see these photos among the promotional materials.
– Access support to develop a KidMin Info board in the main hallway to highlight 1-2 major focuses for each month, but not everything…visual overload makes it hard for someone to find the info they need about a special opportunity/event. Make it big and colorful, but visually easy to get the info while walking past. A Mom with a toddler hanging on her leg and an infant on her hip with two diaper bags doesn’t have time to read everything on her way to the nursery or to the car, so we need to make it easy for her.
– Acquire and use acrylic folder stands to display flyers for the next major “community invite” event and place on any table where a group meets, i.e. Sunday School, scouts, coffee pot, Weight Watchers, conference room, library, etc.
– Expand postcard ministry for all children and families related, even distantly, to the church (preschool, scouts, basketball league, Sunday School, VBS, special event – have a “guess how many” location at each event where someone gives you his/her name and email, etc.) Postage and professional looking postcards cost money (though they can be purchased inexpensively online) and a budget for marketing will give permission to the KidMin Director to do just that.
– Increase personal touches and communication to any paid staff who support other community ministry to little people (preschool, daycare, etc.)
– Introduce and communicate to the church family who is serving in the children’s areas through photos, newsletters, bulletin boards, etc.
– Address church-wide publicity such as name of the church van, signage outside, signage inside.
– Engage in regular, frequent (at least quarterly) opportunities to collaborate with everyone involved with ministries to children (preschool, Sunday School, VBS, music, etc.) to develop relationships and guide decision-making, shared resources, written/verbal/image-driven cross promotion opportunities.
– Plan for special Sundays when the kids are on stage in big church (scouts, preschool, choir, worship art exhibit, etc.) at least quarterly.
– Prepare fliers to go to all the nearby daycares and education centers.
– Encourage 2-4 “all hands on deck” community-invite experiences, or piggy-back with like opportunities already on the calendar, that offer elbow-bumping between those already in the church and those we are inviting.
– Quarterly emails of upcoming “specials” to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, on your email list.
– Photos and teasers in newsletters.
– Photos and teasers on facebook pages (yours personally AND everywhere you can).
– Announce it from the pulpit.
– Put it in the bulletin (did you notice where this made the list?)
What else would you do?
“Jesus said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” Mark 10:14