It is a season of challenges when you look at the economy and the funding of ministries in the local church. It takes much creativity these days to stay on top of providing a quality ministry to children – and yet, not having the funds available to make it happen the way you might be envisioning it. OK, I’ll just be straightforward with you: It’s downright frustrating… I know, I’ve been there!

Let me tell you a little story:

Once upon a time, in a land far from here, at a church I will not name…

…I was in the interview process and asked about the budget for children’s ministries. The Pastor asked me what I thought it would take to pull off quality children’s ministries a that particular church? I became bold and said that it would take 12,000 a year to do it. (remember, this was 16 years ago). The Pastor pondered that for a moment and said that he could get the board to approve that amount. I ended up getting hired at the church and was told that the amount I requested had been approved – I was super excited and ready to make some purchases. I approached the finance person to find out how to access those funds to buy some much needed KidMin supplies. She looked me in the eye and exclaimed, “Oh, you have to raise that money!” I’ll let that sink in for a moment…

…The way that church funded ministries was:

  • Have each Department Leader submit a budget proposal.
  • The Pastor would present that budget to the board.
  • The board would then approve it.
  • The board would then commission the Department Heads to go forth and raise the amount that was approved.

True Story.

So, for about 4 years, I had to provide quality ministry to children at a church of 1,200 by raising every dime.

I have decided to let you in on a few ideas that got me through those years – plus a few ideas I have used since and wished I had know about back then!

100 Envelope Fundraiser

This was originally an idea that was presented to the Children’s Pastors of the Assemblies of God to raise money for Missions or BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge). So, let me state right away that this idea is not mine. But I’ve used it with great success.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 100 envelopes
  • A marker
  • A church service full of adults
  • The approval of your pastor
  • The leadership sold that this is your idea so no other department steals it.

I’ve done this fund raiser for missions as well as raising our own budget.

Here’s the basic idea:
You lay 100 envelopes across your platform. Each individually numbered 1-100. During the adult service, you ask families or individuals to consider choosing an envelope and putting the dollar amount that is on the front of the envelope… So, if the envelope has the number 24 on it, a family would give $24

Now you may be asking: “Why go that route rather than just a special offering?”

Answer: “Because, if every envelope is taken and returned you get $5,050 in one service.”

It kind of predetermines the outcome. And I don’t know about you, but anytime I’ve ever had a special offering taken in the adult service, we never even came close to that amount.

Your best results will come when you can identify where the $$$ is going.

A few years back, I did it in our three weekend services. Each service, we put out new envelopes. Almost all the envelopes were taken each service. We raised over $12,000 in one weekend. The $12,000 we raised, went to supplement our budget and help us remodel or “freshen-up” some of the classrooms

The key is to announce it a few weeks ahead of time with some clear explanation:

We basically explained that this was an easy way for them to help build up the Children’s Ministry budget with a one time gift. We explained that there would be 100 envelopes each numbered and that their family should come ready to choose a dollar amount. We also explained that if the amount they were thinking of giving had already been taken, to add other envelopes together to equal their amount.

Here are a few more ideas that have helped me in years past:

10/10/10

Find 10 children that would contact 10 other people that would each give 10 dollars.

This would get you $1,000 for your ministry.

Club 125

A family commits to giving for 12 months – $5.00 a month (that comes out to $60 per family that participates)

Multiply that number by the number of families willing to participate.

Events and adding a few extra $ to each fee

When you have a retreat, a family activity that costs something or an event that will require you to charge a fee… simply increasing each registration/ticket or cover-charge by a dollar or 2 each will give you that extra wiggle-room.

Dash for Cash

Parade your kids into the main auditorium during the adult service. Have the adults hold up any paper currency and have the kids run thru the auditorium collecting the cash. Play fun music in the background – kids and adults love this!

Here are a few low-cost events, prizes and supplies that might help the budget:

Paper Airplane Night

A night with a ream of white copy paper and craft supplies from your supply closet at church. Have families come, ready to fold and decorate paper airplanes. Do a few contests with bragging-rights as the prize: Longest flying plane, coolest decorations, most colorful, etc. If your church has a balcony, have the families line up to toss their planes off of the balcony to see who’s will fly the furthest.
Mini-Golf Tournament

Post Office Undeliverable Packages

Contact your local post office. There are several times a year when they get rid of the packages that cannot be delivered (no address, wrong address or incomplete address, no such address, the address is unreadable and there isn’t a viable return address) Ask them to contact you when they are getting ready to ditch the items and more often than naught, you can go pick it all up. Have an opening party at your church, Friends of mine have found high-end electronics, promotional items and all kinds of things that can be gifted or offered as prizes.

Paint Left Behind

Need to paint a classroom or a backdrop for a series? Contact your local home-improvement place (Lowes, Home Depot, Etc) or your local paint-supply place (Sherwin Williams, Dupont, etc) and ask if they have any custom paint that hasn’t been picked up or paint that’s been mistakenly mixed that they want to get rid of. Often times it’s free for the taking or there may be a small fee – but trust me, it’s a major discount. You won’t always find the colors you need – but who knows!

Craigslist

Look thru the Free section – you will find all kinds of craft supplies, drama props and who knows what else for your ministry.

List your needs in the Wanted Section and see what kind of response you get. Someone out there is just waiting to donate some unwanted piece of equipment or supplies to a church.

Everywhere you look there are ideas to be used in children’s ministry… just waiting to be unlocked! They could be hidden in the pages of book, the display fixture of a store, an interesting commercial on TV, during a conversation about a topic you never thought you’d be talking about, happening in a new song on the radio while you’re waiting for the light to change or in a moment of misfortune.

When you go out and about in your day, here are some ways to harvest those innovations so you can keep your ministry sharp:

  • Keep Your Eyes Open – always be saying to yourself: “What could this be? How can I use that? How could my church benefit from having/knowing about this?
  • Be Deliberate – Visit places that are interesting and unique… ON PURPOSE. There’s that one store in the mall that has unique displays. There’s that one park with playground equipment like no other. There’s that one 2nd Hand shop that always seems to gather interesting items.
  • Use Up Your Smartphone’s Memory – If you have a smartphone, you should be taking pics, capturing video, taking notes and recording voice memos of your surroundings and experiences. Invest in more memory if need be.
  • Catalog Your Finds – Evernote is a great way to organize the ideas and notes you collect so you can return at a later time to be creative. If Evernote is not a consideration, have a place to keep those ideas so they are not forgotten: Open a document program on your computer and keep a running list of those ideas… store pics and video on a hard drive… if nothing else, keep a notebook handy.
  • Visit The Bigger Guys – There’s that church near you that is bigger and has more resources at their disposal. Perhaps they have some innovations and things that could be adapted for your situation. They’re usually willing to share their thoughts and ideas.
  • Visit The Littler Guys – Often the drive of the newer/smaller church’s leaders pushes them to try newer things quicker… after all: Necessity is usually the mother of invention.  These guys have HAD to figure out how to solve problems; and in the process might have created the new process.
  • Empower The Team – You’re not the only one in your ministry that can do the aforementioned. Encourage your team to do all of these things! Bring it all together once in a while for a “Show and Tell” session: Everyone puts what they’ve collected over the last weeks or months their finds. Get out the whiteboard and start to map-out the finds into usable ideas whether your church or ministry ever uses them or not… you’d be surprised where these session might go.

A few months ago a scheduled a twitter teaching using Hootsuite (great for scheduling tweets or posts to FB). It never really occurred to me to add this to my blog as a list of tips for making your large group teaching more effective. So, here we go – #hash-tags and everything!

  • Teaching Large Group Tip 1: Have a passion for teaching kids! #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 2: Be prepped by knowing the Word & being prayed-up. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 3: Be prepped by knowing your lesson, rehearsing, and the right people are in-the-know. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 4: Make eye contact with as many kids as possible. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 5: B animated with your voice. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 6: B animated with your actions #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 7: Get kids as helpers 2 tell stories, hold objects, play games. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 8: Use multimedia – but don’t let it USE you. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 9: Use props & objects. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 10: Have unique characters & special guests. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 11: Background music helps with intros, outtros, teaching times, creates moods & segues. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 12: Sound effects are great – pre-recorded as a playlist in iTunes. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 13: More sound effects – kids with noisemakers during the story think old-time radio. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 14: Controlled lighting can create moods & segues. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 15: Become a master storyteller. U will attain perfection only by trial and error. #kidmin
  • Teaching Large Group Tip 16: Each segment of the service: Explain what UR going 2 teach; teach it; explain what U just taught. #kidmin

I sure do hope this gives you something to think about as you prep for your Mid-Week or Weekend large group experiences! And if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, my twitter handle is: @jamie_doyle

These past weeks, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve taught on the Word of God for our Children’s Large-group format.

Here are the Topics taught and the basic synopsis of each lesson:

  • “God’s Word is Strong” We used the story of the Wise and Foolish Builders and discussed how we will face storms in life. We can build our lives on many things: wealth, fun, friends and stuff. Unfortunately, those things will let us down. But if our lives are built on the Words that Jesus taught, we can stand strong.
  • “God’s Word Inside” We used the story of Jesus being Tempted by the devil and yet, Jesus had the Word of God inside of Him so he could use it wherever he went. We will encounter temptation every day! If we will put the Word inside, we can have it with us wherever we go.
  • “God’s Word is Sharp” We used the story of David and Goliath and emphasized the fact that it wasn’t necessarily the stone that won the fight… it was the message that God had already spoken that He would fight our battles for us. David knew that message and used it to win the fight. We ended this particular service by providing places where kids could pray what the Word says – We posted scripture verses around the room and invited kids to pray those verses over their struggles, trials and problems. It was an amazing altar time.

These were 3 lessons that were part of a longer series called “This Is BIG”. In years past, I have done entire 8-12 week series on the Word of God. Here is a snapshot of some of the past lessons we’ve taught in those longer series’:

  • The Bible is God’s Word
  • God’s Voice
  • The Word Inside
  • The Real Truth
  • The Word In Your Mouth
  • God’s Word is Like a Hammer
  • God’s Word is Like a Sword
  • God’s Word is Forever
  • God’s Word is Strong
  • Where Does Faith Come From?
  • What Do Your Feet Look Like (Beautiful are the Feet…)
  • God Keeps His Promises

There are many things you can teach on in a Children’s Ministry Large Group format (AKA Children’s Church/Kids Church). Just search the web for curriculum and there’s some great stuff out there – (BTW, I’m a huge fan of High Voltage and the stuff on the SEEDS website).

But I know for a fact that we need to get back to helping kids KNOW the Word of God. Every year, I try to do 2 things: Teach a series on the importance of the Word of God… and teach individual lessons on the importance of the Word of God other times of the year.

Right Now, I am doing a series called: “THIS IS BIG” It’s a series we’ve written using independent/stand alone resources (like video clips and music) that emphasizes the BIG plans God has for each of His people… and the thing that is pushed most of all is the importance of knowing, memorizing and using the Word of God.

Later in the year, we will teach through other series. Rest assured, I will find a way to either:

  • Add a week on the importance of God’s Word
  • Find the service in the series that has an emphasis on the Word and take advantage of it.

Why would I do this? Why should you do this?

  • Kids need to know what the Word says – the storms of life beat against the lives of children just as much, if not more than adults.
  • The devil would like it if children were ignorant of his plans – he always tries his hardest to influence the weakest will or understanding.
  • Because you can – If you live in a country like the USA, the spiritual climate is changing drastically and the world will look very differently in just a few short years.
  • It strengthens a child’s walk with God
  • It teaches kids to feed themselves God’s Word

There are days when it will feel overwhelming to do children’s ministry… there will be days you aren’t sure you want to continue… there will be days when you wonder if God has forgotten about you… But I know for a fact that you can do this children’s ministry thing.  Do you know how I know? Because of the list below:

  • God calls us
  • God equips us
  • God guides us
  • God energizes us
  • God resources us
  • God knows us
  • God loves us
  • God sustains us
  • God watches over us
  • God is with us

Go ahead and add to this list.

Memorize It

Knowing what you’re doing is different than planning what you’re doing. Again, you can start collecting your ideas and putting together all the stuff to make the service a success. But, if you don’t know WHAT you’re doing in the moment… it can create a moment of confusion, embarrassment or the sense from the audience that you aren’t prepared for them.  Even though, some of these items may be similar to the earlier section on Preparation… this list really is really all about “knowing” your service.  Memorization in a kids service has very little to do with knowing each service word-for-word or action-for-action – it has more to do with knowing the details enough to keep things moving along for so the audience will stay focused for maximum ministry results.

  • Know and be able to quote the main scripture – you’ll want to reference back to it during your teaching times.
  • Know and be able to quote the main idea or key point you want the kids to walk away with… you can’t get something into a kids world until it’s in you’re first.
  • Make and use a schedule of the service – As I mentioned in the last post, I prefer Planning Center Online. It gives you ways to schedule each item in your service and assign it a time. You can also use it to schedule team members for each item.
  • Outline your stories, object lessons, gospel magic routines, illustrative sermons and even skits. It’s not necessary to have it all memorized word-for-word. But if you know the main points and can elaborate on them, you’ll be more confident as you teach.
  • When doing an illustrative sermon or when many props and visuals are being used in one service, put them in order of their use on your table, in your box or from left to right on the stage or presentation area.
  • Make your team aware of what props and visuals you are using so those items don’t get touched, moved or end up getting put away before the service starts (I’ve had it happen).
  • Put a bookmark in your Bible where the main Bible story is found. Mark the passage with a highlighter or red pen… You ARE opening your Bible with the kids and having THEM read Bible stories with you – aren’t you?
  • Make sure everyone understands their cues for their parts. Music cues, key words, graphics on the screen or knowing that “…immediately after such-and-such happens…”, is when the next person needs to be walking on stage will help keep transitions smooth.
  • It helps to have a rehearsal with others involved, even if it’s just a walk-thru of each thing happening in your service.

It begs the question: Whatever happened to Preparation A thru G?

Children’s Church Services/KidMin Large Group Times are my passion. So, in an effort to help you do a better job, or inspire you to go to a new place with your Children’s Church Services, I’ve decided to start a posting on what will bring your services to life. In this series, I’ll not only give you practical advice… but, I’ll also tip my hand as the the “stuff” I use to make it all happen:

Prepare

  • Read Your Curriculum or Lesson/Sermon Materials Early in the Week
  • Read the main scripture
  • Read the supporting scriptures
  • Know or come up with a main phrase the kids will know when they walk out
  • Pray for guidance
  • Start a creativity file for each lesson and start filling it with ideas and resources you come across – http://kidology.org and http://CMConnect.org are great places to find resources, ask questions and get input from KidMin leaders all over the globe!
  • Outline your topic and put together a service schedule Planning Center https://www.planningcenteronline.com is perfect as it has a way to add times to each event in your service schedule. They even have a free version so you can try it out with your team.
  • Meet with everyone involved in the service and make sure they are all on the same page – http://Dropbox.com is a good way to share information with your team and http://www.nozbe.com works well as a project management with a team of people.
  • Prep multi-media – I swear by ProPresenter for presentation Software http://www.renewedvision.com/propresenter.php and even Keynote for Mac is pretty robust if I couldn’t afford ProPresenter.
  • Prep print materials
  • Gather props and visuals and put them where they are needed for the service
  • Rehearse with the appropriate people
  • Make adjustments
  • Set up your room
  • Remember – The service starts the moment the kids walk in

I like to network with KidMins… Why?
Well, I’m glad you asked.

Relationships Are Thicker Than Puppets

You may run out of money, forget about the lesson ideas you once had, damage equipment or download a virus… But the relationships will still be there. Because of those relationships, you will be encouraged. You will rub shoulders with veterans and the young, “hungry” kidmins alike. You will invest into their ministries, in turn, expanding your influence as well.

We Each Got Stuff The Other One Wants

Sometimes when I need a resource I don’t own, can’t afford or that’s not available anymore, I have a resource library spread all over my town. It’s called “Other Church’s Supply Closets”. So many times I can make a few calls or send an e-mail about that curriculum that’s no longer published or a prop I don’t want to drop $300 to use for one weekend… and more often than not, someone has what I need, sitting in their supply closet at church. (Just be careful that you are not making illegal copies or breaking the law if the original buyer has the right to use the resource in only his or her own church only).

Everything I’ve Ever Needed To Know, I Learned From Other Kidmins

I don’t have all of the answers, and neither do you. But If I can surround myself with people who know stuff that I don’t, I will gain the knowledge of those who have “been there” and “done that”. Even if that Kidmin is younger than me or has been in ministry a shorter time, their environments and experiences will be vastly different than mine… and there are answers in that somewhere.

That’s right, I’m having a ONE day sale starting TODAY – Thursday, June 14, 2012.

THE SALE HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL MIDNIGHT – FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2012

Here’s the deal.  You’ll get 8 of my ebooks for only $20.00. READ THAT AGAIN!

If you were to buy these separately from my online bookstore, you’d pay over $50.00

Why in the world would I do this? I’m a generous guy I guess… but here’s the deal:  The sale ends at midnight tonight (Mountain Standard Time -USA)

The Titles include:

  • Adding Flash To Your Lessons Vol. 1 & 2
  • Incredible Object Lesons
  • MORE Incredible Object Lessons
  • EVEN MORE Incredible Object Lessons
  • Teaching Kids To Give Vol. 1
  • Teaching Kids To Give Vol. 2
  • KidMin Altar Call Book (My NEWEST BOOK)

So, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Use paypal.com and send $20.00 (USD) to the e-mail address: pastorjamiedoyle@gmail.com
  2. In the “E-mail the Recipient ” section, put ebook deal in the Subject Line
  3. Put your e-mail address in the Message field
  4. When I see your funds have been sent, I’ll send you an e-mail with a link along with a password to download each book. (once you receive the link and password, you’ll have until June 30, 2012  to download the books.  After that, the links will be inactive)

You can go to my online bookstore to read descriptions and even see samples of each book – BUT REMEMBER – this deal is NOT AVAILABLE at my online bookstore.

HAPPY SHOPPING!