Monday, March 22, 2010

What Does a "Win" Look Like in Children's Ministry? -- Part 1 (Parents & Volunteers)

This is always the “million-dollar” question, isn’t it? After all, we all want to know if what we are doing is meaningful and productive, no matter if we are in paid ministry or whether we serve as a volunteer. Of course, the ultimate goal for Grace Children’s Ministry is to equip the next generation for a life in Christ. We want children to know God intimately, and to grow spiritually.  But of course, this is something that is hard measure in the moment. Only God knows the hearts of each child, whether they truly are growing in faith.

So, is there some way to determine if we are equipping parents, volunteers, and children, as God has called us to do? (You can read about our mission here.) While spiritual growth per se is not easily measured, we do watch some indicators to help us gauge the health of this ministry. These are not determinants for our ministry; rather, they are signs that things are going in the right direction.
  • Attendance at equipping events.  You can see a summary of our parental equipping events on our website.  In April 2008, we had 135 parents in attendance, as we taught on the subject of salvation and baptism. At the Intentional Parenting Conference (January 2009), we had 240 adults, and in the fall we had 392 at the “Future Men” equipping event. We are looking forward to Transitions Parenting Conference (April 16-17), and “Future Women” (this coming fall).
  • Utilization of take-home materials.  Since January, we started collecting Smore Cards from the kids in our Camp Grace programming, to see what spiritual activities their parents were leading them in. We were most of all excited about the number of families who were using the ROAD Bible reading plan to help their children learn to become Biblically-oriented.
  • Increasing numbers of volunteers. With an ever-growing ministry, we are always in need of more and more volunteers. Three years ago, we had 250; now we have around 650, and we expect to need 700+ by this fall! Last summer, we had over 120 people who were either brand new to serving in Children’s Ministry, or they stepped up to an increased role in serving.
  • More volunteers being equipped. During the past few years, we’ve been tweaking how we do our summer training. One goal that we’ve accomplished is to orient our training schedule to give the maximum opportunity for volunteers to attend the training; this past summer, over 90% of our volunteers attended a training session, and most of the break-out sessions at these events were led by volunteer Coaches (another huge win!).
  • Volunteers feel like they have contributed. We have worked to format our curriculum so that it is easy to use by our small group leaders, even for substitutes. Furthermore, through our Coaching structure, volunteers have an easy way to get feedback and insight from our experienced leaders.
Come back later in the week to read some more “wins” for Grace Children’s Ministry.

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