Is Your Children's Ministry Spread Too Thin to Be Effective?

When I lived in southern California and then in Las Vegas, one of my favorite places to eat was In-N-Out Burger.

Many times, when a person is going west on business or travel, you'll hear someone tell them, "You've got to try In-N-Out Burger!"  I know I make a point to stop by and eat there when I am in the area.

What makes their "fast food" so good?  The answer lies in the owner's commitment to focus on serving a few items with excellence.

They make hamburgers, fries and shakes.  That's it.  All the ingredients are fresh.  There are no microwaves or freezers.  Their shakes are made from real ice cream.  To maintain quality control and service excellence, they remain privately owned with no franchise stores.  Stores are only found in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas.

Their focus helps them create great food.

Let's think together for a few minutes.  Does this same strategy apply to children's ministry?  I believe so.

You can spread your resources, staff, volunteers, budget, time, energy and focus across a vast array of programs, events and other offerings...but you will find it all ends up being so thin, it's ineffective.

Simplicity and focus doesn't just happen.  What does just happen is complexity.  Our natural bent is to equate busyness and volume with success.  And so by default, we begin to fill up our ministry calendars with lots of events.  We begin to spread our resources across everything we're trying to do.  We weaken our volunteer team by trying to fill our many programs and events that all require many volunteers.  This results in us having a lot of mediocre programs and events.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and then talk through with your team...

Are all of our areas lacking volunteers because they are spread across too many options?

What is draining us that is not producing fruit?

What is working that we should shift more focus, resources and time to?

What are we saying "yes' to, just because it makes a few people happy?

If our ministry menu had to be like In-N-Out Burger, what three focused things would we offer?

What is a good thing we need to stop doing so something else can become great?

If we had to cross 5 things off our ministry calendar, what would they be?  What is stopping us from doing this?

Still not convinced?  Let's look at another example of how less is more.

Think about Google and Yahoo.

While Yahoo's site bombards you with hundreds of different choices,  Google only shows 2.  Search and I'm feeling lucky.

Which one has been much more successful?  Obviously Google.

When people look at your ministry, are there so many programs, events and offerings that it leaves them overwhelmed and not engaging fully with any of them?  

And so, I ask you the question from the title of this article.

Is your children's ministry spread too thin to be effective?

Maybe it's time to put some eraser marks on your ministry calendar.  Maybe it's time to decide what your niche' is and focus on doing it with excellence.  Maybe it's time you pour your volunteer force into serving in one or two programs and events.  Maybe it's time you spend your allocated budget on where it can have the most impact.  Maybe it's time to stop doing some things just because it's always been done that way.

Re-focusing a spread out, thinned out ministry and concentrating it on a few key elements can make it much more effective.

Just ask In-N-Out Burger and Google.