Why Offering Too Many Programs is Hurting Your Children's Ministry

McDonald's has been looking for ways to combat declining sales.  One of the strategies they are pursuing is simplifying their menu.

Fortune magazine took an extensive look at the issues plaguing McDonald's and pointed out that they had increased their menu by 75% since 2004 hitting a total of 121 items to choose from.  But instead of helping them, the extensive menu has hurt them.  They are hoping that simplifying their menu will speed up service and make it easier for customers to order.

Many children's ministries make the same mistake by offering too many programs.  They think the more they offer, the more families they will attract and reach.  Unfortunately, this strategy tends to have the opposite effect.  Why?

Families are drawn to quality...not quantity.  They are looking for a few programs done with excellence rather than a boatload of mediocre programs.

Families are looking for simple, clear steps they can take...not a ministry maze they have to try to navigate through.  Don't blame people for not growing spiritually when you make it hard for them to know how.

Families are looking for a few programs that have lots of volunteers....not a lot of programs that each have a few volunteers. 

If your children's ministry is stagnate or declining it may be due to the same issue McDonald's has been working through...too big a menu.  If that's the case, here are some things you can do to simplify.

Take a hard look at what you are doing.  What is working?  What is repetitive?  What are you doing just because you've always done it?

Decide on a few programs that will bear the most fruit.  Which programs are the most effective?  Which programs are making the biggest impact?  Which programs do you want to concentrate your volunteers on?

Prune everything else.  I have a tree in my front yard.  Small branches are always springing up off the big branches.  I have to constantly prune them off.  Why?  They are taking valuable resources and minerals away from the main branches.  If I want to maximize the growth and potential of the main branches, I have to prune those small branches.

I find the same thing happens in ministry.  There are constantly new programs, ideas, initiatives that are springing up.  They are "good" things, but they will take away from the great things that God is working through.  So you have to say "no" to them.

Simplifying is not easy.  Program after program gets added over the years.  And the few people who are attached to them will get upset when you start pruning those programs.  But you can't let the sentiments of a few stand in the way of the growth and blessings that God wants to bring to your ministry.  Pruning leads to more fruit and that must be the deciding factor.

I want to challenge you to take a look at your ministry menu.  Is it too big?  Is it confusing?  Is it keeping you from reaching more people?  If so, it might be time to simplify.