Don’t Sink Your Kids’ Ministry; Plan!
Without Planning, our kids’ ministry will drift about aimlessly until it runs aground. When parents and various organizations pitch things to us, we will not know which way to steer. Do we go to this camp? Should we have a lock-in? What about the summer? If we have no strategy, we will answer these questions differently every year. Or perhaps an even worse thing will happen. We will start digging a ministry rut, refusing to change anything. “After all we did it that way last year,” we say.
If we continually flip flop on what we do, we will exasperate the moms and dads in our ministry, losing the very trust we need to cultivate. But if we keep doing the same-old, same-old, we will wake up one day and discover that we our exciting new ministry is showing 20 year-old VHS tapes. Neither is good. And both extremes can easily be avoided with some planning.
First Comes Vision
But to plan well, we must have vision. We must have strategic goals that we are trying to reach. At FBCE my goal is to reach kids with the gospel, to equip parents, and to foster godly relationships through discipleship. Every curriculum I pick, every outing our kids go on, and every camp we attend is chosen because of it helps FBCE reach one of these goals.
For example when I came to FBCE, our kids attended a Winshape Day Camp. The 15 kids who attended loved camp. The last year we went to Winshape, only 3 kids hopped on the church bus. At FBCE, we average around 100 kids in attendance every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Only three were going to camp. We were not reaching kids with the gospel. Consequently, I decided that FBCE’s kids’ ministry would stop attending Winshape. In it’s place, we decided to start our own day camp, Connect Camp. Through Connect Camp, we have reached an average of almost 40 kids each year. We have gone from 4 to 40. Ultimately what lead me to make the decision to try something new was my strategic goals. Since Winshape was not helping us accomplish any of our mission, we let it go. I am not against Winshape. I think it’s amazing. But the camp was not working for the families of FBCE because of logistical reasons. A change had to be made.
Before we can thoughtfully set our calendars, we must have strategic ministry goals that will help us chart our course. And then we must plan.
Then Comes Planning
Yes, it is good to always be flexible. It is good and helpfully to be able to cancel, reschedule, and create new events as needed. We are not God. And all who depend on him, must be humble and must be open to God reworking their plans. As proverbs 19:6 says,
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
If our plans become so protected that we sin to get them and/or sin to ensure they go happen, we do not have a calendar. We have an idol, and we need to repent of it.
But trusting God does not relief us from the responsibility to plan. Often the only way to implement our strategic goals is to plan months (if not years) in advance. It takes time to mobilize volunteers, to collect resources, and prepare teams. It takes more than one event to reach kids with the gospel, to equip parents, and to foster Christians relationships. It takes years. And we need to plan accordingly. We need to wrestle through our calendars and decided which curriculums, events, and groups will help us advance the gospel in our community.
Today, I am doing many things that I first thought of back in August of 2012 when I first arrived. The ideas have morphed and changed to meet the needs of FBCE. But they would not have happened without intentionally planning and prayer. We as the leaders need to be making hard decisions well in advance so that we can guide our people and our kids. In short, the only way to prevent ministry drift and stagnation is to plan. Whose ready?