Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Reports and Budgets

Not many of us enjoy doing reports or making out budgets for our department, but they are an important part of ministry.  Reports (for me, Board Reports) give our governing body an idea of what is happening in your department, and budgets give you the funds you need...or at least let you know what you have to work with.  However, when I was first starting out in ministry, I was unfamiliar with how to write either one of these papers. Fortunately, my Dad had been writing both for years and he helped know what should be in each one.  So, this week, I will share a couple of tips that he gave me as well as a few that I've figured out over the years that have helped me where writing budgets and reports are concerned.

In my denomination (Nazarene), I am expected to turn in a report each month to our Church Board.  This is very important because, for the most part, none of the Board will have been in my Children's Department during any of our services.  If I want them to be aware of what God is doing, what series we are studying, or how many children are involved, then I need to make sure that is in the report. So, here is a simple breakdown of what is generally in my monthly Board Reports.
     1) What we did last month - This is a brief overview of the events or programming you want to highlight from that last month.  How many attended the events, were there any conversions in your services, how many new children are attending and any other pertinent information. 
     2) What is coming up this month - Make sure they are aware of what you are planning the the days ahead.  
     3) Upcoming large events - It may only be August, but if you are beginning to prepare for your Annual Christmas program, the Board needs to know.  Keep them informed.
     4)  Who is helping you - Throughout your report, give credit where it is due.  Make sure you mention the names of those who are helping you consistently or have been of special help in the last month.  
      5) What have YOU been up to - The last paragraph of my report is always a highlight of my activities for the month.  Be detailed where you can.  This is not to say that you need to list every single thing you did, but let them know the basics.  An example might be: 
In the last month I attended 3 staff meetings, prepared and led 4 Wednesday night services, attended a workshop on Children's Ministries, made two hospital calls, prepared and led 4 Sunday Morning services, prepared the monthly newsletter, led one Children's Council meeting and one Kingdom Crew meeting, met with one potential volunteer, as well as completing regular office duties. 

Being detailed each month will help you if you have to fill out an end of the year report. Recording how many times you preached over the course of a year or how many hospital calls you made over the last twelve months is easy if you have been detailed in your monthly report.  But it also helps your Church Board to know what you do throughout your working hours. Ministry is unlike most 9-5 jobs and they need to know what you spend your time doing.  

When you put together your yearly budget, there is a fair amount of guesswork involved, but if you keep decent records throughout the year and stay in touch with your church treasurer, you can simplify the process a bit.  The easiest thing to do is to make a list of all the things you will need to purchase over the course of the year and give each one a line item.  (Examples: Christmas Musical, Curriculum, Trunk N' Treat, Easter Eggstravaganza, Volunteer Appreciation, Camp, Publicity, etc) After you have made your list, go through your records and see what you spent last year on those items and make adjustments for the coming year.  For example, if last year you spent $100 on your publicity, but you know that you are doing an extra event this year, perhaps put $125 in the budget this year.  If you spent $500 on your Christmas Musical last year, but are planning to borrow a musical from another church this year, perhaps you only ask for $250 this year.  Take into account what your plans for the coming year as well as what you spent the year before to come up with the budget you submit.  

When you submit your budget, be prepared to have it cut when it comes back to you.  Some people take it as a personal affront when the budget for their department is cut, but the reality is that the finance committee will have to cut in many places in order to come up with a workable budget for the church, so be prepared to receive less than you asked for. It's not that they don't like you or don't think that children's ministry is important.  Generally it is simply that they have to make sure every area is covered with the funds allotted.  Yours won't be the only one cut and you will simply have to do the best you can with what the church can give you. So be gracious about your budget being cut.  No one likes to take away funds from ministries within the church, but we need to work together to make what we have work for our department.  Remember,  as the old song says, "Little is much when God is in it!"

Reports and budgets may not be the most exciting part of being in ministry, but it is no less vital to what we do.  I hope these tips make writing them a bit easier.

Until next week! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Christmas Time is Near...

I love Christmas.  It is, by far, my favorite holiday.  However, in ministry, it is an extremely chaotic time of year. And you start planning for it in January (yes...January), so Christmas prep is sort of always on the back burner throughout the year.  However, there are a few things you can do, to hopefully lessen the chaos and make this very special time of year a bit less stressful.

Don't plan many activities during the month of December.  At my church we do three things in December and only one is not during a regular service time.  The Christmas Musical, our Angel Brunch, and a Birthday Party for Jesus. 

The Angel Brunch is held on a Saturday and it is literally a brunch where the children bring their Grandparents (or a Grandparent they adopt for the day if their own are not available).  We do an angel craft, have someone dress up like an angel for pictures, play angel themed games, and the "Angel" reads a special Christmas Story to the kids.  It's not work intensive, but it is a lot of fun and the families always enjoy this special time.  It generally lasts no longer than an hour and a half, so it doesn't take up much of the people's time during this busy time of year. 

Our Birthday Party for Jesus is always the Sunday right before Christmas.  That particular Sunday is one of the most unpredictable of the year as far as numbers are concerned because sometimes you may have far fewer kids (they have left to visit family) or you may have far more children (those in town to visit family).  This birthday party is great because it works whether you have 10 kids or 50 kids.  On this day, we have an actual birthday party and try to incorporate as many different things that would be done at any child's birthday party.  We have party games, goodie bags for each child (filled with "Happy Birthday Jesus" items when we can), prizes, music, cupcakes or birthday cake and more.  We also include a time to tell the Christmas story in some way.  In fact, all of the games tell parts of the Christmas Story as much as possible.  For example, instead of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" we might play "Put Baby Jesus in the Manger".  If we play musical chairs, all the music will be Christmas Carols of some sort.  You can find lots of games this fit this idea on Pinterest.   The Christmas Story might be told through a video, by having the kids act it out, or various other ways.  We will have been studying the Christmas Story prior to the party so this is a review more than a full blown lesson.  But, here is my thinking about this party...if we would give a party to a child to celebrate their birthday, how much more appropriate is it to plan a Birthday Party for the Savior of the World.  It's fun and it reinforces that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus' birthday.  It is one of my favorite days of the year in Children's Church. Also, if you happen to be gone on this Sunday, this is an easy Sunday to have your volunteers lead.  Make sure they have all the supplies and that everything is ready to go, but they can easily fill in on this day if needed.  Even the most shy volunteer generally is ok leading a game even when they might not feel comfortable teaching a full blown lesson.     

About the Christmas musical/program:  If you are doing a Christmas program or musical, my advice is to schedule the performance on the first Sunday of December.  It might seem early for a program, but most of the time, if you wait longer to do it, you will start clashing with the practices and programs the children have at school.  Doing the program early keeps the schedule clashing to a minimum and  will also put your biggest event behind you early on.  Christmas musicals/programs take more time and effort than most people realize and if you do yours early, you will have time to recuperate before you begin celebrating with your family.

That's all for now.  Until next week! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Video Clips...

I love using video clips in Children's Church. Countdown videos are a fantastic way to get your kids to get ready for church to start. They watch the clock and when it gets to zero, they know it's time for church.  So much of our music comes in video format and that can be a blessing as well.  Though, be aware, if your kids simply "watch the video" and don't participate, perhaps those are not a good choice for you.  If I can use a video for an object lesson, that is a great way to connect the lesson with a story the kids will remember. There are a lot of videos out there.  Sometimes they come with the curriculum that you purchase and sometimes you simply have to find them yourself.  That can be time consuming, but if you know where to begin to look, it can be much easier.  So, this week, I am sharing a few places that you can go to find video clips for just about anything you might need. 

Sermon Spice – www.sermonspice.com
            This is a great place to go to find countdowns or video clips for use in your services.  The videos cost money, but sometimes there are free ones.  They will also lead you to other sites for other videos that you might be able to use.  Tip:  If you use the link provided to go to the video’s original site, often the video can be purchased cheaper than on the sermon spice site.

High Voltage Kids Ministry – www.highvoltage-kids.com
            They have countdowns, games, PowerPoint’s, and more at decent prices.

Wingclips – www.wingclips.com
            I love this site!!!  Lots of video clips…many of which are free to download.  You do have to sign up to download clips, but there is a free part that you can sign up for.

Youtube – www.youtube.com
            Most people are familiar with this site, but you can often find fun clips that you can use in services.  They often can be downloaded so that you do not have an inappropriate ad show up after the clip (as sometimes can happen).  If they can’t be downloaded, make sure whoever is running your video stops it right at the end…just in case.

Here are a few Youtube Channels that you might want to be familiar with:

  gfguys  (Go Fish Guys)  Great music for the kids

 Blimeycow   Messy Mondays is a weekly video put out by this family of three siblings and a spouse.  Has great videos that could be used with preteens or teens.  NOTE:  These videos tend to be very sarcastic, so if your preteens don't connect with sarcasm, you will probably want to shy away from these videos. 
                        BoardShorts TV Weekly funny videos that can be used for various things.  Kid Snippets are my favorites.  Check out "Salesman" and "Math Class". 

                        hillsongkids  This has some great music videos you can use from Hillsong

                 Any Kid President video is great.  Several of them make great discussion starters. He doesn’t have his own channel. It is through SoulPancake. 
PLEASE NOTE:  Not all of SoulPancake is Kid Friendly.  Kid President however, is awesome!

                     The Rizers have really fun music videos and so do Seeds Family Worship.

There are lots of fun videos out there and this list is only a very small portion, but it is a start and I hope you find it helpful.  Do you have a favorite?  I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Until next week...