by Cindy Sanders
One of the most important things you can do for your children’s ministry is to encourage the leaders that pour their lives into the boys and girls. Building relationships with them and giving them a chance to get to know each other is the foundation of a sound Children’s Ministry. Most everyone enjoys the cohesiveness of belonging to a “group” and your Encouragement Meetings can not only provide quality teaching tips, but an opportunity for your leaders to share their family and personal prayer needs in a small group setting. Try to incorporate the following tips in your planning and enjoy some great fellowship that will not only provide timely teaching tips, but will engage your leaders in quality sharing time and the feeling of belonging to a special group of friends!
Get the Word Out – Invite & Remind!
- About two weeks before your scheduled meeting, send an eye-catching postcard to the homes of your leaders.
- Send a reminder e-mail a few days prior to the meeting.
- Go to each classroom and personally invite each leader to the upcoming meeting letting them know there will be important information shared. If the lead teacher or director of the class is unable to attend, make sure each class is represented by at least one of the other teachers.
Preparation – Keep it simple, but fun!
- Decide on “themes” for your upcoming Encouragement Meetings. (Mexican, Italian, Hawaiian, Night, Seasons, etc. – We even had “Wedding Night” and invited leaders to share wedding albums! What fun! Just make sure those men are considered and make it fun for them too!)
- Upon entering the meeting area, set up a small desk or table with a “Sign-In Sheet” (list of each class, leaders’ names and space for each person in attendance to sign.) This will allow you to take a quick look at the ones who missed the meeting and will need copies of your information.
- Have nametags. Encourage leaders from different areas to get to know one another.
- Provide a stack of index cards, pens and two boxes marked, “Prayer Requests” and “Questions.”
Prayer Requests – let your leaders know that the Prayer Requests will be e-mailed to the entire Children’s Leaders unless noted “confidential” (All the requests will be shared with the Children’s Ministry Staff to be prayed over.)
Questions – check these cards prior to the start of the meeting to see if they need to be addressed in the group or individually – this invites good discussion.
- Have some snacks/finger foods to go along with your theme. Set up food & drinks on a decorated table just outside your meeting room door. Your local discount store can give you lots of ideas for table covers, serving pieces, etc., to go along with your theme. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make it fun and make them feel special. All of your decorations should be reusable. Leaders can mingle and fix a snack plate before entering the room.
- Set up your meeting room with chairs in a semi-circle. Appropriate music can be playing in the background.
- Prior to the meeting, place handouts on the chair seats with pertinent information that you will be reviewing. Always include the phone number and email address to your Children’s Ministry office. Encourage communication with your staff for any special materials they may need for their class.
Meeting Time – Sharing and Caring!
- Get everyone’s attention (they WILL be talking with each other!) and begin with an opening prayer.
- Share something God has done in your life lately, a special Scripture, etc. Your leaders need to know you in a personal way.
- Make a few announcements and share with them what you want to accomplish during the meeting.
- Go over some neat things that have happened in the church and especially in the Children’s Ministry.(Baptisms, community involvement, personal or family recognition, new members, etc.)
- Encourage them. Laugh with them. Read some quotes or funny things children say. (There are PLENTY on the internet!) Let them share some of their own class stories.
- Make sure each take-home package includes a monthly or quarterly calendar of events. Include not only important Children’s Ministry dates, but church wide events to keep in mind during planning.
- Have a time of equipping/training in an area you feel is the greatest need. (You can lead this, but it is always good to bring in special speakers. Ask one of the other leaders to share their special gifts in a particular teaching area.) Keep it short and to the point!
- Ask your leaders if they would feel comfortable sharing their testimony with the others. Have them sign up for an upcoming meeting so they will come prepared.
- As the meeting is nearing an end, give a couple of door prizes. (Have someone on your staff draw names from those in attendance, or first/last to arrive, those with birthdays that month, etc.) Change up your criteria each month to keep them guessing! Door prizes can be items to be used in the classroom or inexpensive themed gifts from the discount store.
- ALWAYS end on time! If you are running late due to conversation/discussion, stop, close the meeting and invite them to stay a little longer if they’d like to continue the conversation. All follow-up can be handled by group e-mail if necessary. Be respectful of their time.
- Send your leaders home with a blessing, plenty of information and a desire to come back for more.
Your leaders will look forward to their Encouragement Meetings and feel interconnected as a team. Don’t forget to minister to each other during times of family celebrations and personal hardships. When you focus on leaders and build relationships, your children’s ministry will have a family feel that people will notice as they walk in your ministry area.Encouragement meetings lead to great friends and happy teachers! Happy teachers lead to happy kids and happy kids lead to…
Cindy has served in Children’s Ministry for over 22 years, 19 as a Children’s Minister and 3 as a Children’s Consultant. She now spends her time writing, helping her husband Scotty with his church consulting business, and keeping four grand-daughters happy!
Scotty and Cindy live in Lantana, Texas and have been married 31 years.
Check out their website at www.lifecatalystconsulting.com.