Dec 14, 2018

Ratios - A Huge Part of Effectiveness in KidMin

Ratios matter in children's ministry.  I mean they really, really matter.  I would go as far to say that ratios will determine your effectiveness in children's ministry.

Let's talk about why ratios are so important and the part it plays in a child's experience at church.

Right ratios make your ministry safer.  When there are 30 preschoolers in a room with only 2 volunteers, accidents are more likely to happen.  In your early childhood rooms, it's vital that you not only have a correct number of kids, but also enough volunteers to help keep the kids safe.

Right ratios helps each child be known, cared for and prayed for. When you don't have correct ratios, kids may leave having never heard their name called, not having someone look them in the eye and telling them how important they are to God.  They may leave having not been personally prayed for.  

Right ratios prevents volunteer burnout.  When you don't have enough volunteers, it can cause the volunteers you do have to burn out.  They end up doing more crowd control than teaching...which is not what they signed up for. 

Right ratios makes the teaching more effective.  Kids are able to participate more in the lesson.  They can be an active part of the teaching.  

Right rations makes the experience more enjoyable for kids.  No one enjoys being crammed into a small space.  And that includes kids as well.  It's hard to listen and participate in activities when you are squeezed into a small area.

Right ratios can be a determining factor in whether guest families come back or not.  There are a few things that guest families look for when checking out a church.  One is safety and security.  Will my child be safe and protected?

And they look at ratios.  How many other kids are in the room?   Will my child be able to express him/herself and be heard? 

Right ratios requires you to build a strong volunteer team.  Having the right ratios comes down to one big thing.  If you are following ratios, is your volunteer team large enough to accommodate the number of kids attending?  Are your volunteers trained properly?

If you need help with building your volunteer team up, then get my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams.  This book will help you build your volunteer team and get your room ratios up to where they should be. You can get it as an ebook or paperback at www.buildingchildrensministry.com.

The bottom line is this:  Lowering child-to-volunteer ratios helps ensure that children receive adequate care, supervision and Christian education.

When ratios are met, it sets your volunteers up to provide high-impact interactions with children.  When ratios are not met, it can cause children to not be known or truly connected.  It's that important.

You may be wandering what proper ratios looks like. Here are the ratios I follow.

Infants - 1 volunteer for every 2 children (minimum - ideally 1 volunteer for every 1 child

Crawlers - 1 volunteer for every 3 children

Toddlers - 1 volunteer for every 4 children

2-year-olds - 1 volunteer for every 4 children

3-year-olds - 1 volunteer for every 8 children

4-year-olds - 1 volunteer for every 8 children

5-year-olds thru 5th grade - 1 volunteer for every 10 children (minimum - ideally 1 volunteer for every 8 children)

I want to challenge you to take a look at your current ratios.  Do you need to add some more volunteers?  Do guest families look into your preschool rooms and see chaos.  Do elementary kids have the opportunity to be in a small group. (BTW - ever tried to do a small group with 20 kids?  That's not a small group...that's a crowd.)

This takes us back to this quote...

"Everything rises and falls on the strength of volunteer team you build."

GREAT VOLUNTEERS + GREAT RATIOS = GREAT IMPACT IN THE LIVES OF KIDS.

Your turn.  Share your thoughts, ideas and insights about ratios in the comment section below.

Dec 13, 2018

25 Christmas Jokes You Can Tell Kids

Christmas is such a great time for children's ministries.  You can teach kids who Jesus is, why He came and what it means to follow Him.  It's important to focus on sharing the true meaning of Christmas.

That being said, it's also a great time to connect with the kids through Christmas jokes.  Kids love jokes.  You can use these with one kid before service, in a large group or small group.

And often at Christmas, churches will have guests.  It's also when all the CEO's show up (Christmas-Easter-Only).  These kids and families are also a group you want to engage with while they are at your service.  If the kids have a great experience, they will bug mom and dad to bring them more often.

Have fun using some of these jokes this Christmas season to connect with kids.  All it takes is one funny joke to bring down the wall a child may have put up.  Once that wall is down and they've decided to engage with you, you can share God's Word with them heart to heart.  Start with a joke that gets kids to laugh and helps them connect with you.  Which means you will have a great opportunity to share the true meaning of Christmas.
  1. What do you call a greedy elf?  Elfish
  2. Which of Santa's reindeer has bad manners?              Rude-alph!
  3. What is a skunk's favorite Christmas song?  Jingle smells!
  4. What name did Santa give his dog? Santa Paws!
  5. Where do snowmen keep money?  In a snow bank.
  6. What's the best thing to put into Christmas dinner?  Your teeth!
  7. What did Adam say on the day before Christmas? It's Christmas, Eve! 
  8. How much did Santa pay for his sleigh? Nothing.  It was on the house.
  9. Why is Santa so good at karate?  Cause he’s got a black belt.
  10. What’s Santa’s favorite candy?  Jolly ranchers.
  11. What does the gingerbread man put on his bed?  Cookie sheets 
  12. What is an elf’s favorite kind of music?  Wrap music! 
  13. What do monkeys sing at Christmas time?  Jungle bells...Jungle Bells
  14. What do you call Frosty the Snowman in May? A puddle!
  15. Why are Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen always wet? Because they are rain deer.
  16. What did the beaver say to the Christmas Tree?  Nice gnawing you!
  17. What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk?  Jingle Smells!
  18. Why did Rudolph get a bad report card?  Because he went down in history. 
  19. What is a Christmas tree’s favorite candy?  Ornamints.
  20. What do you get when you cross a snowman and a dog?  Frostbite. 
  21. What do you sing at a snowman's birthday party?  Freeze a jolly good fellow!
  22. What goes “oh, oh, oh”?  Santa walking backwards! 
  23. Knock Knock.
    Who’s there?
    Mary.
    Mary who?
    Mary Christmas!
  24. What does a cat on the beach have in common with Christmas?  Sandy claws! 
  25. Mason says to his mother: You can delete the train set from my Christmas wish list. Mother: Why is that? Mason: Yesterday, I found one in the closet.

    Your turn.  What other Christmas jokes or riddles do you use to break the ice or to connect with kids at Christmas?  Share in the comment section below.

Dec 12, 2018

Grow You...Grow Your Ministry in 2019

Do you want to see your ministry grow in 2019?

There are many factors at play when you think about seeing the ministry grow.  What stops a ministry from growing to the next level? Space limitations might be a reason.  Limited population where you serve can be another reason.  Outdated ministry methods can make a ministry go flat.  These are just a few of the reasons a ministry can plateau or even decline.

But the biggest reason is the leadership personally stops growing, which results in the ministry not growing.  If you want to see the ministry you lead grow this year, then you've got to be committed to growing yourself as a leader.

When I was in middle school, I played on our school's basketball team.  I did okay, but often missed shots I should have been making.  My coach came to me and asked if he could give me feedback about my shooting form.

He showed me something about my shooting form that I couldn't see myself.  He told me I wasn't bringing my elbow in close to my body as I shot.  And it was causing my shoot to go off to the left.  I listened to his advise and adjusted my shot.  Wham!  I started making a lot more shots.

A coach can see things you can't see yourself...simply because they are looking in from the outside and can identify things you've have grown used to.  A coach can help you identify your blind spots and improve them.  A coach can give you the tools you need to build your ministry to the next level.  A coach...most importantly...can help you grow and stretch to the next level.

That's why you need a coach in 2019 to help you grow.  And as you grow...you will see the ministry you lead grow as well.

I want to help you grow and as a result, see your ministry grow.  That's why I started Advance Children's Ministry Coaching.  As part of this, here are a few things that are included for you...
  • 6 months of coaching.  Next session will run January to June of 2019.
  • Monthly group coaching call.  Live, one-hour sessions on the important topics listed below. Each session includes teaching and group discussions
    • January - Self Leadership
    • February - Leading Staff and Volunteers
    • March - Leading Through Change and Challenges
    • April - Keys to growing a ministry
    • May - Creating a Dynamic Children's Ministry culture. 
    • June - Staying Relevant in Ministry 
  • Personalized growth plan:  Personal one hour phone session with Dale to help you identify areas of growth and development.  From this, Dale will help you create a one year growth plan in those areas. 
  •  Copy of Dale's books.
  •  Online support.  You get access to a special online forum where you can ask questions directly to Dale and the other members.  
You are a leader and now is your time to grow.  Participants come from all different sizes of churches, ranging from 150 to 15,000.  The principles and coaching works no matter how small or how large your church is.  Dale has led in churches from 25 to 27,000 in weekend attendance.

Here are some testimonies from some leaders who have went through the coaching experience.

I am thankful for the coaching experience I was able to have.  I have learned tools that will help me with leadership, growth and structure.  The information will help me today, tomorrow and many years to come. 
-Michelle Carley, 5 Points Church

Can you teach an "old dog" new tricks?  Dale did! Having worked in children's ministry for almost two decades, I have a lot of experience.  Basically that means I am good at some things and avoid the rest.  If you are willing to learn, Dale will help you with the rest.
-Joel Smith, Children's Pastor

I found the Advance program very helpful!  I'm convinced everyone would get something out of it - both those with formal training and those without.  Dale was affirming of therole of children's ministry in the church as well as provided encouragement to us as participants. He shares practical insight into building an awesome children's ministry.  
-Eric Gayer, Executive Pastor at Lifegate Church.

The next group begins in January and the deadline to apply is December 20.  Space is limited, so sign up today at this link. 

Believing with you that 2019 is going to take you to a whole new level as a leader. Come join us for the journey!   

Dec 11, 2018

Don't Ignore This...If You Want Families to Talk About Your Lesson During the Week

As children's ministry leaders, we are constantly trying to find ways to spark faith conversations between children and their parents during the week.

Some of the current methods are...
  • take home papers
  • apps
  • websites
  • social media platforms
But we may be overlooking the most effective way to extend the lesson.

A new U.S. study by Pearson has found that 60% of Gen Z kids prefer YouTube for learning over printed materials.  More specifically, they prefer YouTube over the take home papers we give them.

Here's something else to consider.  Most kids and families are not going to go to another website to engage in conversation.  But they will engage with a website/platform that they already go to daily.

Let's talk about YouTube.  Why should you use YouTube to extend your lessons?  Because that is where Gen Z is.  47% of Gen Z spends 3 plus hours each day on YouTube.  55% say YouTube has contributed to their education and development.  The company is the most popular brand among kids ages 6 to 12.

What if you created a short video (2-3 minutes) each week about the lesson?  It doesn't have to be a major production.  Just grab your phone and shoot it.  Promote the video to the families in your ministry and provide them with a link.  Emphasize that it is on YouTube. You can create a channel if you want to archive the videos from previous lessons.

When it comes to making disciples, God tells us to go to them rather than waiting for them to come to us.  Look at Matthew 28:19-20.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

You can live this out by going to where kids and families are...YouTube...and helping them deepen their faith by initiating parent and child conversations that are sparked by your videos.

Our message doesn't change.  The command to go and make disciples doesn't change.  But how we go and make disciples must change to be relevant to the culture that we are ministering in.  If we can grasp this and live it out - maybe we'll stop seeing take home papers on the ground after service is dismissed.  Maybe, just maybe, we can see kids and parents engaging in faith conversations at home as a result of watching a short video that sparks the conversation.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  Are you using YouTube to extend the lesson into the home?  If so, put the link in the comment section below, so we can check it out. What other ideas do you have to extend the lesson to weekdays?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.