"This year I resolve to get organized!"
How many years have you been saying that? Well, now's the time to
turn your resolutions into executions. Take the time now to get
organized to save time later.
Try these tested children's ministry time-saving tips to give your
new year a new start:
*Clean out the closets. Don't waste valuable
storage space with things you don't use. Give each item the
12-month test. Has it been used within the past year? If not,
figure out why. If it hasn't been used because it's broken, fix it.
If you don't use that filmstrip projector because you show videos
instead, donate the projector to your favorite charity.
*Let children use their imaginations. Gather all
the junk you want to toss. Put all this stuff (except the gooey
apple cores) in a large box. During your next children's ministry
program, let the children make art projects from these items.
*Investigate before you invest. Thinking of
buying more equipment for your church playground or nursery? Call
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to find out about
equipment recalls before you spend the money. Call
*Consolidate phone calls. Designate the "sleepy"
part of your day to make and return phone calls. Put all your calls
on a "to-do" list and do them all at once. Talking to people will
help you feel more alert. And letting someone else take messages
while you do your concentrated work will cut interruptions.
*Set limits. Instead of adding another file
cabinet or bookshelf, resolve to get rid of your old stuff to make
room for your new stuff. The same is true with closets. Your church
doesn't have unlimited space to store all your children's ministry
*Give your desk a makeover. The definition of a
desk: A level writing surface. A desk is not a dumping ground for
all the stuff you're afraid to throw away. Your desk should have
only the items you're currently working on. File away other papers.
Put away extra pens, notes and mail. Throw away pens that don't
work. Dump the junk. Clear your desk so you have a level surface to
*Organize supplies. Meet with your most organized
Sunday school teachers to give your supply closet a new look. Store
the construction paper together. Fill all the glue bottles. Make
the supply area user-friendly. Label bins and shelves so teachers
know where to return supplies not used. Then designate one person
to be the supply keeper. This person will keep the area organized
and order supplies when they're low-instead of when they're
*Read mail with the garbage can. When the mail
comes in, pull up a garbage can and deal with all the mail
immediately. Throw away what you don't need to respond to or refer
to. Don't let mail pile up.
*Stock up on postcards. With a clip art book,
make a birthday postcard, a get-well postcard, a "you're special"
postcard and a "we're glad you came" postcard. Then take the
postcards to your local print shop and get a bunch made. Remember
to mention these are postcards so the printer will make them the
right size and weight to meet postal regulations. After they're
printed, use the postcards to jot quick notes to children. Or call
800-747-6060 to order Children's Ministry Care Cards.
*Keep on top of the budget. Instead of growling
about your "big, bad budget" and then losing all your receipts, buy
12 manila envelopes. Mark one envelope for each month of the year.
Put your receipts and expenditure records in the corresponding
envelope. Then recruit someone to update your budget once or twice
*Write a mission statement. Write a short summary
of your purpose in children's ministry. Hang it where you can see
it. Periodically ask yourself whether the work you're doing fits
your mission statement.
*Dump those catalogs. Instead of letting catalogs
pile up, get rid of them -- especially if they're a year old or
more. If you feel you must keep catalogs for future reference,
alphabetize them in a file. When a new catalog arrives, toss the
*Use only one calendar. Life gets too complicated
when you have more than one calendar. No wonder your ministry can
spill into your personal life if you don't know what you're doing
outside of the office. Find one calendar that can travel with you.
Keep track of personal appointments as well as your ministry
programs. If you have a hard time saying no to work, paste a gold
star in a space each week. That star represents time for yourself
or your family. If someone wants to meet with you during that time,
you can honestly say that you already have something planned-and
that it's important. (What else would a gold start
*Rent, don't own. If you use a circus tent only
once a year for a summer program, rent it instead of buying it. Do
you really have room to store all those once-a-year items?
*Make each room child-friendly. Buy a large roll
of butcher paper. Hang it from the wall so children can tear off
paper whenever they want to write or draw. Store toys in plastic
bins so children can take out the toys they want to play
*Organize your orders. Label one folder "orders."
Put a copy of the order or the page from the catalog you're buying
from in this folder. This helps you keep track of the curriculum
and supplies you've ordered. When your order arrives, toss your
*Prioritize each day. Start each day by deciding
which tasks are most important for you to do. Then set aside quiet
time to do your concentrated work. Close your door. Post a "Do Not
Disturb" message on your door. Let someone else take phone
messages. Make time for your important work.
*Find a system that works for you. Experiment
with different organizational systems to see which one helps you be
organized. But keep it simple. An organizational system should cut
your workload, not add to it.
Jolene L. Roehlkepartain is contributing editor for CHILDREN'S
Copyright© Group Publishing, Inc. /Children's Ministry