My observation: Most KidMin leaders are super creative but lack gifting in details or moving past the big idea. (My apologies to the other 2 people out there who don’t fit that stereotype… I love details).
So, allow me to offer a little advice and a few guidelines that I’ve found helpful in planning events in Kids Ministry:
- Determine the Purpose for the Event: Ask the simple question, “Why are we even considering this event?” Too many times we do events that have no purpose and bring no real benefit to our ministry. It’s important to know the “why” before you get too deep into the planning.
- Identify the Target Audience: Age appropriateness is important for events, too. Obviously, every event can’t be narrowly targeted for a specific age group but I think it’s valuable to recognize the audience that will be included and make sure you plan accordingly (generally speaking 4th graders don’t enjoy the same activities that 4 year olds do).
- Develop Goals: It’s been said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know if you get there” and that’s true for events. What do you hope to achieve? What would make the event considered a success? Are there attendance goals? Ministry Goals? Develop your goals and steps to achieve them.
- Decide on a Date: Check the larger “church” calendar. Consider community events. Consider holidays, vacations, and other traditions. Ideally, major events take 4-6 months of planning.
- Enlist a Team: Enlist folks who have varying skills. Be careful to not enlist folks “just like you.” Do that, and you’ll find yourself sinking at the end. Consider enlisting an “event director/manager” for major events like VBS, Camp, and Fall Festival. Remember, our work as KidMin leaders is to “equip the saints” (Ephesians 4:12) not do it all ourselves.
- Plan the Event: Failure to plan is a plan to fail! This is the time to get detailed. Be creative and consider delegating specific details to your team:
- Develop a Budget: Line item budgeting based on detailed planning is best. Don’t guess, that seldom works. Often this is where a good event goes bad, quickly.
- Create a Timeline: Again, all the detail folks love this but the bulk of my friends would just as soon shoot themselves in the foot. Take the time to chart it all out. Include essential decisions and progress reports to reach the goals. Communicate to everyone involved the timeline and team members expectations.
- Market the Event: If they don’t know about the event chances are they won’t attend (actually a very good chance). Identify effective methods for communicating the event and don’t forget social media (but don’t fully rely on it either). If you’re planning a really large event (like VBS) make sure a “save the date” has been announced 6-12 months before the actual event. Consider using the theme (if there is one) to help with promotion.
- Evaluate the Event: Be honest with yourself and allow for honesty from team members and participants. If it didn’t work, admit it, remember it, and put it writing. Keep a record of the super great things too… especially if you plan to do the event again. If you’re like me there will be a lot of water flow under your bridge between now and “the next time” so keep good records. The definition of insanity it doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Don’t be insane. Evaluate and learn.
Since 2003 Bill Emeott has served as a Kids Ministry Specialist for LifeWay. His passions include childhood ministry leadership training and development, leading children’s Bible Study, and being an uncle! Bill has been teaching children at First Baptist Nashville for ten years.