Working in children’s ministry for 10 years, I have learned many things through trial and error. I read once from the Kidmin guru, Jim Wideman, that we need to learn from experience. Interestingly, that experience does not always have to be our own. Actually, if we can learn from others experience, it will save us a lot of headaches and heartaches. Over the years, I have discovered the greatest need in kidmin is to step back and evaluate every aspect of your ministry.
- What does my signage communicate?
- How clearly and effectively do my teachers teach?
- How is the service flow in one of my classrooms?
Most of us have been in ministry so long, it is hard to see through the lens of a first time visitor – which is critical! A few years ago, I created a, “First-Time Visitor” evaluation. I like to call it our, “Secret Shopper Survey.” Typically, I’ll ask someone who never attends our church to bring their family one Sunday. I’ll give them a $25 gift card in appreciation for their time visiting and responding to the evaluation. The evaluation covers everything from how easy is it to find a parking spot, to what their kids experienced on their visit. This evaluation opens my eyes to the, First-Time Visitor experience. My “secret shopper” fills out the evaluation, giving helpful comments, and measures their overall experience. If you plan to offer your own evaluation, here are some things to focus on.
- Friendliness of the volunteer staff should be a non-negotiable. Everyone who enters my ministry must feel welcomed – no exceptions. People need to feel loved when they attend. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into a ministry on a Sunday where I wasn’t even acknowledged. As a first time visitor, I would never step foot in that Church again. Smiles are critical, everyone gets welcomed, and we must all create a friendly atmosphere. Your evaluation needs to measure this.
- We have complete control over clutter, dirt, and organization. When things are dirty, broken and in disorder, what does that communicate about the overall health of our children’s program? If I saw old posters on a Kid’s room wall, dirty floors, or overflowing trashcans, I would make a U-turn for my car. When having guests to our house, we clean up and prepare for their arrival, right? Even if this means cramming all our junk in the closet. The same should be true of our ministries. Ensure that your evaluation measures this.
- Follow up is an important process that is followed every week. When I visit children’s ministries and ask how they follow up with new families, I am surprised to learn that many do not have a follow-up process in place. Making a call to follow up with a new family helps establish an open line of communication and a relationship. When follow up is prioritized, the probability is very high that they will attend again. This really should be done within 24-48 hours of their attendance! Make sure the evaluation asks about their follow up experience.
Regardless of how you evaluate your ministry, I encourage you to focus on these three areas. The payoff is worth the extra time and effort.
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