The other day I wrote a post about timeliness here. Some of the comments added to the post in a way that I thought I’d write a little more. Interestingly enough, I wrote about this issue specifically about 14 months ago. Timeliness. It’s something we all struggle with. Kids are late. Volunteers are late. Parents are late. What do we do?

“I’m going to train my parents to be on time.”

Yeah, I’ve said that. Have you?

Unfortunately, I don’t think its necessarily right to think of it that way. It’s not my job to get parents to sign up for stuff on time. However, we all understand the value of timeliness. If we only get an hour a week with these kids, we want the full hour, right? Or when we’re planning camp, it totally throws us off when 40 registrations come in a few days before we leave for camp. So, it’s not really about “training our parents” but more about setting policies for the purpose of creating ministry excellence. Here are some examples:

Late registration price increases. A lot of times I’ll do this for camps. Initially I did this as motivation for parents to sign up their kids on time. However, I found that it really didn’t help that much. However, late registrations often cost more money. I’ll usually order t-shirts by the time registration closes. I always order extra shirts because you know someone else always signs up and I’d feel horrible if 140 kids got a t-shirt and one didn’t. So I order enough to handle late registrations and the price increase pays for the extra shirt. Sometimes extra supplies are needed at the last minute and we have to pay extra to get it on time, so price increases help with this.

Registration closure. At some times you have to just pull the plug. When I would do a lock-in with a couple hundred kids (and my last few lock-ins traveled a little as well), it was imperative that I had enough help and I knew exactly what kids were in what groups. So, I’d intentionally close registration 3-4 days before the lock-in so I could organize groups and be ready for the big night. Yes, I’d have parents get upset with me. However, most (if not all) of those parents signed their kids up early the next year.

Programming great stuff early. Sam mentioned this in my post. He creates the kinds of things kids really don’t want to miss at the beginning of the service. Honestly, if I don’t get to a theater in time for the previews, I feel like I’m missed half of the experience. I do everything I can to be there on time! Certainly the local theater doesn’t care what time you come as long as you pay, but what are things you can plan for the first 10 minutes of your program that the kids absolutely don’t want to miss?

I think that if we create these experiences and put these policies in place… and then stick to our guns, we’ll see a difference. There will be less stress and we’ll get more time with the kids.

Okay, I think that was a good start. I’ll hit room closures tomorrow followed by getting volunteers to be on time the next day.