Use our recipe to cook up a delicious fall kickoff! Here are the seven secret ingredients for fall success in your children’s ministry.
For kids, moving up a grade is something to celebrate. New backpack, new teacher, and new crayons! But for children’s ministers, cooking up a seamless fall launch isn’t always smooth sailing. On your own, it’s a lot of work! But never fear; you don’t have to do it alone. Follow these seven simple steps to invite other cooks into your kitchen as you strategically begin a new children’s ministry year.
Recipe 1: Ready Your Rooms
No one likes moving into a bare or messy space, so perhaps you’ve taken it upon yourself to organize and prep every room. Before you roll up your sleeves for an all-night clean-a-thon, why not share your commitment to kids in your church with others? Here’s how!
- adult small groups in your church
- a supply list for each meeting room
Bake Time: Begin about one month before Move-Up Sunday.
Reach out to adult small-group leaders in your church, and invite them to sponsor one of your age levels this year. Clearly communicate expectations, inviting them to assume the following responsibilities.
- Clean and prepare a kids’ meeting room so it’s fresh and ready for kids to enjoy.
- Purchase and donate supplies kids will use throughout the ministry year.
- Commit to praying for the kids for the duration of the year.
- Provide a picture of their small group, along with a note of encouragement. Hang it in the room so kids can recognize their sponsors and know the adults are praying for them.
You’ve just cooked up a meaningful way for adults in your church to invest in children’s ministry.
Note: Activity times will vary based on your church’s weekend schedule.
Recipe 2: Communicate With Parents
Perhaps you’ve been recruiting, prepping curriculum, and dreaming about the new ministry year for weeks now. News flash: Parents haven’t. Their calendars and thoughts are most likely filled with other things. So take time to alert parents to changes coming their way on Sunday so you can work together to help children transition smoothly.
- parents or caregivers
- map or list of children’s ministry rooms
Bake Time: Two or three days before Move-Up Sunday
Tell families about Move-Up Sunday and let them know where their kids’ rooms will be located and who their teachers will be.
First, make a churchwide announcement the weekend before, and then follow up with an email later in the week so it’s fresh on families’ minds. Keep the email short and sweet, highlighting key information like service times, check-in procedures, and each age level’s room location. Attach a room map for visual parents who may want to plan their drop-off route. Lastly, ask what parents need from you and if there’s anything that’d be helpful for your team to know as you lead their children.
One year, I wanted to more intentionally help our anxious 2-year-olds—and their parents—prepare for their first week in a new room. About two weeks before Move-Up Sunday, I journeyed their route through our building and snapped photos along the way. Capturing images of the church’s front door, the check-in area, the door to the 2-year-old room, and several shots inside the room, I put myself in a 2-year-old’s shoes. What would they see on their first day in children’s ministry?
Then I wrote a short story called “My Day in Kids’ Ministry” based on the pictures I’d taken. I used a simple Word document, and each page had one picture with a few sentences underneath. I printed copies to have on hand and attached a digital version to my parent email. And knowing that young parents spend time on social media, I posted the pictures with captions on our children’s ministry social media page, too. The feedback was great! Families loved this simple way to prepare little ones for their time at church. It even became a bedtime favorite!
Recipe 3: Post Signs and Pray
As leaders, we ask for God’s provision and guidance in our ministries. And we don’t have to talk to God alone. Together, your church leadership team can unite to pray for the youngest members of your church family—all while preparing to welcome them well.
- church staff members
- meeting room signs
Bake Time: The week before Move-Up Sunday
“If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)
First, prepare informational signs to help guide families to kids’ rooms. When creating signs, include the name of the kids’ group, kids’ ages, and if possible, teachers’ and volunteers’ names. Do you have rotating teachers or multiple services? Consider laminating the posters so you can write different names with a dry-erase marker each week.
Next, invite your pastor and other church staff members to help post the signs while you pray over each space. Together, hang the sign on or near the meeting-room door, and then pray specifically for the teachers and children who’ll meet inside.
Do your signs needs a little pizazz? We’ve cooked up a template for you here.
Recipe 4: Prepare Your Team
Especially if you serve in a small church, it’s tempting to perform a one-person show on Sunday mornings. You lead kids, you check in families, you calm crying babies, and you cheerily welcome every child. Whew! No wonder you’re tired. Good leaders do well…and great leaders equip others to do well! So take a little time to prepare your new teaching team to rock their first Sunday on the job.
- your volunteer team
Bake Time: 30 minutes before families arrive
Gather your team before Move-Up Sunday services begin. First, offer simple snacks like doughnuts or easy-to-eat fruit. And when purchasing snacks, factor in volunteers’ kids, too.
Next, briefly highlight key information your team needs to know. Take about 10 minutes for the following:
- Review room locations so your team can direct wandering families.
- Cover check-in and pickup procedures so you’re all on the same page.
- Mention how the key Bible point applies to kids’ lives to remind your team that kids have a growing friendship with Jesus, too.
- Pray together as a team, and encourage your team to watch for God at work.
Do a team cheer before sending them off to welcome kids and families—because you’re all in this together!
Recipe 5: Form Friendships
Kids are in their rooms. Now what? You could dive right into the lesson so you’re sure to cover it all, or you could pause and spend time getting to know each other. Play this game to help kids and teachers introduce themselves and build a foundation for friendship.
- kids and teachers
- a beach ball and music
Bake Time: The first 10 to 15 minutes of your time together on Move-Up Sunday.
Icebreakers are key to kicking off class time in a positive and welcoming way.
Play this icebreaker game with younger kids.
- Have kids sit in a circle. It may help to put tape or a rug on the floor to mark their spots.
- Invite kids to clap their hands as you say this rhyme: Welcome friends, we’re glad you came! Tell me, please, what is your name?
- The teacher will gently roll the ball to someone in the circle, inviting that child to say his or her name. The teacher and other kids then respond, “Jesus loves, [child’s name]!”
- Repeat the rhyme, and have the child roll the ball to another person in the circle. Continue until everyone’s had a turn to say his or her name. Better yet, give everyone two turns.
Play this icebreaker game with older kids.
- Before kids arrive, inflate a beach ball and use a permanent marker to write one question on each colored section of the ball. (Or purchase a Throw & Tell Ball that’s loaded with great questions for this specific purpose.) Include some silly and some serious questions like, “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?” “What’s your most prized possession?” “If you could be any animal, what would you be?” “What do you like most about your bedroom?” “If you had $1,000, what would you buy?” or “Who do you look up to the most?”
- Have kids sit or stand in a circle. If you have a large group, consider forming smaller groups of about eight kids.
- Play music, and have kids toss the ball around the circle while the music plays.
- Randomly stop the music. Ask whoever has the ball to read and answer the question under his or her right hand.
- Play until all kids have answered a question…or two.
Recipe 6: Serve Lunch
Move-Up Sunday morning is bound to have a lot of coming and going as parents, kids, and teachers cross paths. Create a space for everyone to stop and spend a little time getting to know each other. That way, you won’t be the only one building friendships with families this school year.
- parents or caregivers, kids, teachers, volunteers, and church members
- pizza or hot dogs
Bake Time: Right after your Move-Up Sunday gatherings
First, gather a team of willing cooks to prepare a super-simple lunch for kids, their families, and their leaders. No need to cook a gourmet meal—kids probably won’t like it anyway. Keep things simple by ordering pizza or grilling hot dogs. Add veggies, chips, and cookies, and you’ve got a feast fit for busy families.
Maximize this time by intentionally seating families with their children’s teachers and volunteers. Cover each table with bulletin-board paper, and write the class name in the middle of the table. Provide crayons, and ask that all the teachers, children, and parents write their names and then draw something that reminds them of God’s love for them. Then invite everyone to share and explain their drawings. This is a fun and easy way for everyone to get to know each other as they eat together.
Recipe 7: Equip Parents
As leaders, we have so much to tell parents. From Bible verses and points to events to ideas for weaving faith into family life—it’s all good stuff! Consider asking your church administrator or a detail-oriented volunteer to help you consolidate com- munication into one simple, go-to resource for families.
- a detail-oriented assistant
- calendar template
Bake Time: Distribute as families leave church on Move-Up Sunday
The individuals who work or volunteer in your church office are most likely detail-oriented, type-A people. That’s awesome. Ask them to help you compile and create a 12-month calendar for families. It’s pretty easy with the help of a word processor or an online tool. Include things like Bible verses and points, weekly Bible readings from your curriculum, and events on your church or community calendar.
Then, print and give the calendar to each family at your church. If you haven’t planned events or lessons for the whole year, you can simply cover one quarter or month at a time.
What a Tasty and Strategic Move-Up Sunday. Well done!
Want to cook up more irresistible children’s ministry strategies? Attend a half-day training near you! Group’s Children’s Ministry Local Training (CMLT) is packed with practical, hands-on takeaways that’ll equip and inspire your whole team.
Sometimes our desire for “bigger and better” can make us lose sight of the most important ingredients in children’s ministry. This year at CMLT, you’ll discover a surprisingly simple recipe to produce irresistible friendships with Jesus that’ll last a lifetime. Find out more at group.com/cmlt.
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