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Sell the Sizzle

Adam Day

20 Sure-fire ways to ignite your ministry

Most people want to spend their lives doing something worthwhile. If you're trying to convince people that your ministry is a worthwhile place to spend their time and energy, one of the most positive things you can do is to cultivate a sense of excitement when it comes to how people view your ministry.

Think of it this way. Imagine Bill Gates taking an Intro to Mac class at a community college. Or Martha Stewart enrolling in Crafts 101. These things probably wouldn't happen because the situations simply don't fit these people's images. People's perception becomes their individual reality.

If people perceive that your children's ministry is a massive diaper-changing station and only exists to provide child care for adult services, they're far less likely to link arms and join your team. It's up to you to give them something positive to talk about.

Here are 20 budget-friendly ways you can sell the sizzle to your church leadership and potential volunteers-and put your ministry on the front burner in the process.

1. Brand your ministry. If your ministry doesn't already have a logo or tag line, work with your key leaders to develop one. Just like Toyota or McDonald's, you need to send a clear, consistent message that the children's ministry is "moving forward" and that you're "lovin' it."

2. Impress your senior pastor. Every chance you get-especially at team meetings -- share wins that take place in your ministry. Whenever you're in front of leaders, your goal is to be as positive as possible. Think of all the circles your senior pastor travels in; he or she has the ability to change the shape of recruiting woes and image problems if you've communicated the exciting, positive happenings effectively. Leaders love numbers, so provide statistics about your ministry whenever possible. Save problems and concerns for private conversations -- not for public consumption at team meetings.

3. Create great programs. It's better to do a handful of really, truly great things than a boatload of mediocre programs that produce a lackluster response. Let go of underperforming events and focus your best efforts on infusing greatness into your top programs and events -- if those are indeed the ones that God is calling you to conduct.

4. Designate a mascot. Sports teams have them and people love them. Your ministry can only benefit from a well-chosen, unique mascot. Take a trip to your local fabric store and dream about your Kids' Club Koala. Your mascot could visit kids in the hospital, celebrate birthdays, and spice up church picnics. Mascots communicate a sense of belonging, kid-friendliness, and humor -- critical ingredients in any successful children's ministry!

5. Support your leadership. Make your ministry visible at leadership and wider church events by volunteering to have kids serve, participate, or lend their talents. Just imagine your kids marching in with yellow hard hats at the ground-breaking ceremony and the jolt of support your leaders will feel.

6. Demonstrate consistent professionalism. At every point of contact, you have a responsibility to provide excellent customer service to your congregation, families, kids, and leaders. Every volunteer, greeter, and leader on your team is under a microscope, especially by guests and your newest members. You set the tone for how they'll perform.

7. Spend money on your signs. Professional signage is a must if you want to polish your ministry's image. Paper signs taped to walls and curled at the edges say your ministry is an afterthought. Professional-quality signs with your logo marking age-level locations, restrooms, check-in booths, and worship areas tell people your ministry matters.

8. Self-publish. Print a biweekly or monthly newsletter that highlights what your ministry is doing. Don't slap something together; misspelled words and poor design send the wrong message. Find people who can help make your newsletter top-notch when it comes to grammar, images, content, and layout.

9. Get Web savvy. Web sites are inexpensive to set up and operate, and there are probably several teenagers in your church who'd run one for free. Create an engaging, informative site for families that lays out your mission and vision and your plans to achieve them.

10. Create a brochure. If your ministry publishes a volunteer ministry brochure every year, take a different approach. Rather than printing a three-page list of all your ministry needs -- positions, money, donations, toys -- offer the vision with a small sampling of general opportunities. Then highlight all the "wow" experiences taking place in your ministry and the goals your team is working toward. People are more likely to join your team if you project forward movement.

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