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A female staff member smiles during a snoop trip.
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Here’s What Your Children’s Ministry Staff Can Learn From “Snoop Trips”

What can you learn from “snooping” in the business, retail, and amusement world that could refresh and inspire your children’s ministry team? Schedule one of our 13 Snoop Trips to find out for yourself.


If your volunteer training needs a little life breathed into it, jump on the Snoop Trip wagon. There are phenomenal lessons waiting to be discovered just doors away from your church. That’s what the Children’s Ministry Magazine staff figured out recently.

Because “branding” is the buzz word in business today, the Children’s Ministry Magazine team went to a Starbucks coffeehouse to learn about one of the strongest brands around. Then team members discussed how to strengthen their “brand.” On another Snoop Trip to a factory, they learned about the importance of quality control and discussed how to improve their work processes.

The benefits of these Snoop Trips? Snooping is free. And the training is easy. Who could ask for anything more!

That’s why the editors of Children’s Ministry Magazine asked me to come up with more Snoop Trips. The following 13 Snoop Trip ideas are complete with discussion questions to help you and your team get the most out of your snooping.

Snoop Trip: Our Ministry Zoo

Take your team to the zoo to discover how to improve your ministry habitats. Form groups of four. Give each group a map, and have people take notes on the unique features of each habitat they visit. Designate a time and location for everyone to meet.

Once everyone returns, give each group a list of the following questions to discuss. When each group has had time to discuss the questions, ask people to report their major discoveries about creating the best need-meeting habitats for children.

  1. Describe what’s unique about three habitats in the zoo, and explain how each habitat properly cares for the animal that lives in it.
  2. What are the similar elements of each habitat?
  3. What are the different elements of each habitat?
  4. Name the different habitats in our ministry to children.
  5. Which zoo habitat best represents your particular classroom? Explain.
  6. What should be consistent elements in all our ministry habitats?
  7. What habitats in our “zoo” need improvement?

Snoop Trip: Pruned In

Take your leadership team to a nursery or greenhouse to explore how to nurture spiritual and numerical growth in your ministry. Have a gardener demonstrate how to prune a flowering bush or tree to get the desired shape. Ask the the gardener these questions.

  1. Why is it important to prune bushes and trees?
  2. What’s the outcome if a flowering bush or tree isn’t pruned?
  3. Why is proper soil conditioning important after pruning?

Then using the following questions, discuss with your team the desired shape for your ministry.

  1. How can we prune our ministry?
  2. How can pruning help our ministry take shape and grow?
  3. What elements or programs in our ministry need pruning?
  4. How can we condition our ministry’s “soil” and make our “root base” stronger?
  5. What pruning and conditioning do you need to do personally to grow in your relationship with Jesus?

Snoop Trip: The Real Thing

Invite your team to enjoy Coca-Cola floats, or visit a Coca-Cola bottling plant as you spend time sharing insights that can be gained from the marketing campaigns of the Coca-Cola company.

  1. Why is the Coca-Cola brand the most widely recognized in the world?
  2. Name five slogans or ad campaigns you can remember from the Coca-Cola company.
  3. Which one of these slogans or ads most resembles the overall brand statement for our ministry?
  4. What can we do to strengthen our ministry brand?
  5. What can we do to help children see that only the “real thing” can guarantee that “life tastes good”?

Snoop Trip: Back To School

Take your volunteers on a field trip to an elementary or middle school to learn how to get the name of Jesus to show up at school. Tour the building, and have people make notes of places they see brands showing up. Notice clothing, shoes, backpacks, scooters, school supplies, vending machines, and more. Then discuss these questions.

  1. Name all the places you see brands show up.
  2. What can we do to get the Jesus brand showing up at school?
  3. Which things should we do now? later?

Snoop Trip: Sending Your Very Best

Send your volunteer team to a Hallmark card shop. Form groups of four, and have each group select four different cards bearing the same message but from different Hallmark product lines. For example, the message could be Thinking of You. Use the following questions to discover how the same message can be communicated in different ways to reach people at different stages in their lives.

  1. How is each product line meeting the different life stages of people?
  2. Why do Hallmark cards offer different product lines?
  3. How do the messages in the cards help people connect with one another?
  4. What can we learn from Hallmark cards about helping children and their families connect with God through our ministry?
  5. How can we offer options to families who are at different stages? Identify some of these stages.
  6. What can we learn from Hallmark cards about how to communicate the same message at an adult level and at a child’s level?
  7. What do we need to do to communicate biblical truths at levels children can easily understand?
  8. How have we demonstrated in our ministry that we “care enough to send the very best” when we communicate the good news of Jesus Christ to children?

Snoop Trip: Fishers Of Men

Schedule a fishing outing with your volunteers. Form groups of two to four. Give each group different bait while giving only a few groups the correct bait for catching the fish in your area. After about 30 minutes of fishing, give all the groups the correct bait, and enjoy the big haul. Then discuss these questions.

  1. Why doesn’t the same bait catch every kind of fish?
  2. How did it feel to have the wrong bait?
  3. How did it feel to catch a fish?
  4. Jesus calls us to be “fishers of men.” What equipment and “bait” do we need to be fishers of men? fishers of children?
  5. What bait and equipment are we currently using in our ministry?
  6. What bait do we need to add or remove?
  7. How can we learn from our experience that’ll help us be fishers of children?

Afterward, give each of your fishers an Ichthus bumper sticker or key ring.

Snoop Trip: Test Drive

Schedule a “car-shopping” outing for your team. Visit the nearest Volvo dealership to have a salesperson explain the safety features in Volvo cars. Use the following questions to discover what’s important to parents about car safety and the safety of your ministry.

  1. Why are each of the safety features in Volvo cars important?
  2. What peace of mind do these features give consumers?

Snoop Trip: The Scoop Snoop

Visiting an ice cream shop will be a real treat for everyone. Use the following questions to discover the quality of your ministry as you enjoy ice cream treats.

  1. Why is the quality of the ice cream ingredients so important?
  2. What happens to the overall flavor and texture if someone skimps on the quality of just one of the ingredients?
  3. Why is a variety of flavors important?
  4. What are the basic ingredients or values of our ministry?
  5. What is the quality of our basic ministry ingredients, and where do we need improvement-if anywhere?
  6. Which “flavors” do we need to add?

Snoop Trip: A Well-balanced Menu

Take your leadership team to a cafeteria to discover how to balance your ministry buffet. Have people tell which food item most resembles their role in children’s ministry and why. For example, someone may say she’s most like the salt because she makes children thirst for Jesus.

Once everyone has finished eating, reflect on the overall experience with these questions.

  1. How is the ministry programming we offer like or unlike a cafeteria?
  2. Was it easy or difficult was it to make food choices?
  3. How is this like or unlike the choices families must make in our ministry?
  4. Is our ministry’s buffet of options for families well-balanced? Why or why not?
  5. What items should be added to or deleted from our ministry menu?
  6. Where do we need to make improvements to ensure that our children are being well-fed?
  7. What do you need to add or delete from your life to add or delete from your life to maintain balance?

Snoop Trip: Home Improvement

As the need for family ministry continues to grow, take your visionary team on a Snoop Trip to the nearest home building supply store. Form groups of four, and assign each group three to five aisles to explore as group members discuss these questions. After about 30 minutes, bring the groups back together to share discoveries.

  1. What tools are needed for home improvement?
  2. How could any tools here represent tools we could offer in our ministry to families?
  3. How would these tools be useful in spiritual “home improvement”?
  4. In which ways are the employees in this store as important as the products?
  5. How can our ministry be a one-stop supplier of home improvement tools and advice?

Snoop Trip: King-size Ministry

Take your team to the nearest Burger King restaurant. Over Whopper sandwiches, use the following questions to discover what Burger King restaurants do to entice children and their parents to develop lifelong loyalty to their products and services. For additional insights, visit the Burger King Big Kids Web site at www.bk.com/bkbigkids.

  1. What do Burger King restaurants offer kids?
  2. What are Burger King restaurants doing to hook kids?
  3. What’s in our ministry that’s like a Kids meal? like a Big Kids meal?
  4. Do we offer a one-size-fits-all kids ministry, or do we offer options for our kids?
  5. What are we doing to hook kids to be lifelong followers of Jesus, our king?

Snoop Trip: Hog-wild Over Relationships

Take your volunteers to the nearest Harley-Davidson retailer. Learn what the sales team does to develop long-term relationships by interacting with clients.

  1. What can our ministry learn from the Harley- Davidson customer service approach of developing personal relationships with each client?
  2. What does the Harley-Davidson company learn from interactions with clients?
  3. Describe the loyalty that’s created as a result of the relationships and client friendships that are formed.
  4. What can we do to interact in the same way with the kids we serve?
  5. Describe the benefits of developing relationships with children.

Snoop Trip: Easy To Prepare

Take your leadership team to your nearest grocery store for a scavenger hunt. Form pairs. Assign each pair a part of a meal, such as the salad, main dish, vegetable, bread, dessert, or beverage. Pairs must choose and purchase their items for the meal.

Return to your church kitchen or a home. Before preparing the meal, have partners read the preparation instructions for their items. Then prepare the meal. Over the meal, discuss the following questions.

  1. Why did you choose your item?
  2. Did you put any items back after reading the preparation instructions? Why or why not?
  3. Why are preparation instructions important?
  4. What “preparation instructions” do we need for our volunteers who are leading children?
  5. How can we do to improve our preparation instructions so people don’t think the instructions are too hard, too long, or too vague?
  6. What can we learn from preparing our meal to help us with preparation instructions for teaching children?

Debi Nixon is a former children’s minister in Leawood, Kansas. 

For more great ideas like this in each issue, subscribe to Children’s Ministry Magazine today!


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