by St John Eyre/ May 10, 2016
A new family has just relocated to your community. Transitions are tough for the entire household. New jobs, new community relationships, new schools, and a new church are on the horizon. Relationship building will come, but not before a first impression is made.
We have all heard that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Our first judgments of people are so strong they often override what we are told about them. In other words, we can and do judge a book by its cover, all the time. And often, we don’t change our minds, even after we’ve read it. So the value of a first impression is critical to children’s ministry.
With all that being said, your reputation should precede you. It’s always a great confirmation that you are doing ministry well when someone says they have heard good things about you as the ministry leader.
As the leader of your children’s department, there are some vital things that need to be caught instead of just being taught. Your giftings need to range from newborns to seniors. Yes, even seniors who bring their grandchildren to church need to have confidence in you and your team.
You are key to setting the tone of your department. Do your volunteers, teachers and parents perceive you as a calming and adaptable leader? Strive to always be fair, always be consistent, and always be adaptable to meet the needs of each and every child—however they are feeling or acting on any given day. If you help your team develop this attitude, you are much less likely to need to mediate between teachers and parents. And parents will be impressed because your teachers consistently display excellence.
Your volunteers need solid leadership and guidance from you. God gave you a bunch of ducks; your job is to keep them all in a row. Help your teachers know how to dress appropriately for the ministry area they serve in, know what to do in an emergency, and help them feel strongly confident in their ability to serve on your team.
Be sharp, be adaptive, be compassionate, and be everything God has equipped you to be. We all have areas where we fall short. My volunteers know me beyond just Sunday morning. They know my strong points and my weak points. We are doing ministry together and they fill the voids in ministry that I cannot cover. I consider it a privilege to serve with each and every one of them. Remember, to many of your volunteers, you are their pastor as well as their team leader.
The parents of your kids really need to know they can trust you to guide their children. Put yourself out in front when parents come to pick up their kids. Make genuine compliments when they are due or share a quick snapshot of your department vision. This can be done as simply as putting a current newsletter into their hands or letting them know that you will be calling them this week. Take a knee and say good-bye to children on their level. Always share the next exciting event coming up.
Sometimes I wish I was able to simply listen to a visiting family as they drive home from church. Since that’s not possible, I have decided to formulate the favorable things I want them to say. Then I make sure my team has the ways and means in place that will allow visiting families to say these things. What’s the one thing I secretly hope they say? . . . “That was impressive.”
What is one thing your team does to impress new families?