Creating a Buzz

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NEVER FORGET YOUR MISSION

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Have you ever watched 5-year-olds play soccer? They look so cute
in their uniforms and mini cleats; no one can herd a soccer ball
like a bunch of 5-year-olds. Watch these youngsters long enough,
and you’ll see it; there’s nothing quite like it. It may be a blade
of grass, a butterfly passing by, or just plain boredom, but it’ll
happe–the ever-present soccer distraction. And while it can be
quite humorous at a peewee soccer game, it can be devastating to a
ministry.

Keep your eye on the ball! I mean, never forget your mission.
“Your mission statement is everything. It’s the rudder that guides
the ship. It shapes everything your church does. It provides the
grid whereby effectiveness is measured and decisions are made,”
says Tim Wright. And distractions are numerous in ministry.

Joy’s children’s ministries team has the mission and vision for
our ministry posted throughout our building. Our mission is “To
impact the children of our community with the message of Christ’s
unconditional love; encouraging children to grow in a personal
relationship with Christ and to foster growth through biblical
teaching, role modeling, and self-esteem building.” We set goals by
our mission and we measure effectiveness by it. We evaluate every
event and program, using our mission as a guide. We survey our
volunteers, kids, and parents to assure that we’re in line with the
mission. Finally, we ask visitors what they think-especially if
they don’t return. Most of all, though, our staff lives, believes,
and is excited by our mission.

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There are many things that could distract our team from our
mission, but knowing who we are and what we’re about helps our
ministry stay focused and accountable. In turn, the people we reach
know what we are and who we represent.

CREATE AN IDENTITY

Our children’s ministry is called Kid Kountry. Okay, so we
spelled part of it wrong, but ask someone in Community Church of
Joy’s neighborhood what Kid Kountry is and most people can tell you
something about it. We have it “branded” on our Christian education
building in big, bright letters. It’s in our literature, our
nametags, our T-shirts, and on everything that’s distributed to our
community.

We seek to create a living identity for the name of our
ministry. When people see Kid Kountry anywhere, we want them to
understand who we serve and what’s important to us. Articles in our
church newspaper let people in the congregation know what kids are
doing at Community Church of Joy. Pictures speak a thousand words,
so we use them! We take kids’ pictures and interview them about
what they like about Sunday school, what they’re thankful for, or
what a special holiday means to them. We post kids’ photos and
interviews on bulletin boards. It’s a great way to show how God is
working in our ministry.

We highlight our volunteers and let them speak through our
church newspaper. It’s an awesome way to honor them and tell others
about what’s happening. We also have our kids serve in roles
throughout our church and in outreach projects in the
community.

Publicity without follow through, though, will get you nowhere!
You have to deliver what you promise. We’ve designed our children’s
ministries building to be inviting and to fit everything that
people have heard about us. Throughout the building we have
pictures of kids participating in programs we offer at Joy. Tables,
chairs, and hands-on manipulatives such as Lego tables are not only
in the classroom, but also in the lobby areas where kids get their
first glimpse of our programs while parents chat. On Sunday
mornings we have a snack bar with a variety of foods that kids
enjoy. This has been an incredible opportunity for families to hang
around after services and get to know each other while their kids
enjoy being in our building.

We know that safety and security are highly valued, so we take
every precaution possible to make sure kids are safe and secure in
our programs. The fence that surrounds our building has alarms on
the gates to sound if an intruder enters — and to bust little
escapees! Pagers for nursery parents provide them the comfort of
knowing they’ll be reached if there’s a problem. We also have
strict sign-in/sign-out procedures that volunteers are trained to
follow, and all volunteers and adult visitors have special name
badges to assure that their presence has been cleared by staff.

Our identity is that Kid Kountry is kid-friendly,
family-friendly, and Christ-centered. And we deliver on all three
points! Parents and kids have a lot of choices today. We want to
create an environment where kids and families have fun together,
learn together, and form lasting relationships with Christ and
others. We’ve created a place where kids are celebrated every day,
where fun is always close by, and where love encompasses all that
we do. Our children’s ministry is a place where people want to be
involved and want to serve. So the circle is complete; the people
we once were reaching out to are now partnering with us to minister
to others.

Recently at the end of a weekday, I closed my office door behind
me. A dad rushed in the front door, “Oh! I’m glad I caught you! Our
neighbor told us you have something for kids here this Friday
night. Is it too late to sign up?”

I opened my door again and invited him in. I smiled. It’s the
buzz again.

Carmen Kamrath is the associate editor of Children’s
Ministry Magazine..

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