Sell the Sizzle
By: Adam Day
Most people want to spend their lives doing something worth-while. If you’re trying to convince people that your ministry is a worthwhile place to spend their time and energy, one of the most positive things you can do is to cultivate a sense of excitement when it comes to how people view your ministry.
Think of it this way. Imagine Bill Gates taking an Intro to Mac class at a community college. Or Martha Stewart enrolling in Crafts 101. These things probably wouldn’t happen because the situations simply don’t fit these people’s images. People’s perception becomes their individual reality. If people perceive that your children’s ministry is a massive diaper-changing station and only exists to provide child care for adult services, they’re far less likely to link arms and join your team. It’s up to you to give them something positive to talk about.
Here are 20 budget-friendly ways you can sell the sizzle to your church leadership and potential volunteers—and put your ministry on the front burner in the process.
1. Brand your ministry. If your ministry doesn’t already have a logo or tag line, work with your key leaders to develop one. Just like Toyota or McDonald’s, you need to send a clear, consistent message that the children’s ministry is “moving forward” and that you “lovin it.”
2. Impress your senior pastor. Every chance you get—especially at team meetings—share wins that take place in your ministry. Whenever you’re in front of leaders, your goal is to be as positive as possible. Think of all the circles your senior pastor travels in; he or she has the ability to change the shape of recruiting woes and image problems if you’ve communicated the exciting, positive happenings effectively. Leaders love numbers, so provide statistics about your ministry whenever possible. Save problems and concerns for private conversations—not for public consumption at team meetings.
3. Create great programs. It’s better to do a handful of really, truly great things than a boat-load of mediocre programs that produce a lackluster response. Let go of underperforming events and focus your best efforts on infusing greatness into your top programs and events—if those are indeed the ones that God is calling you to conduct.
4 Designate a mascot. Sports teams have them and people love them. Your ministry can only benefit from a well-chosen, unique mascot. Take a trip to your local fabric store and dream about your Kids’ Club Koala. Your mascot could visit kids in the hospital, celebrate birthdays, and spice up church picnics. Mascots communicate a sense of belonging, kid-friendliness, and humor—critical ingredients in any successful children’s ministry!
5 Support your leadership. Make your ministry visible at leadership and wider church events by volunteering to have kids serve, participate, or lend their talents. Just imagine your kids marching in with yellow hard hats at the ground-breaking ceremony and the jolt of support your leaders will feel.
6. Demonstrate consistent professionalism. At every point of contact, you have a responsibility to provide excellent customer service to your congregation, families, kids, and leaders. Every volunteer, greeter, and leader on your team is under a microscope, especially by guests and your newest members. You set the tone for how they’ll perform.
7 Spend money on your signs. Professional signage is a must if you want to polish your minis-try’s image. Paper signs taped to walls and curled at the edges say your ministry is an afterthought. Professional-quality signs with your logo marking age-level locations, restrooms, check-in booths, and worship areas tell people your ministry matters.
8 Self-publish. Print a biweekly or monthly newsletter that highlights what your ministry is doing. Don’t slap something together; misspelled words and poor design send the wrong message. Find people who can help make your newsletter top-notch when it comes to grammar, images, content, and layout.
9. Get Web savvy. Web sites are inexpensive to set up and operate, and there are probably several teenagers in your church who’d run one for free. Create an engaging, informative site for families that lays out your mission and vision and your plans to achieve them. For great ideas—and cautions-about creating your own Web site, go to www.childrensministry.com/webideas.
10.Create a brochure. If your ministry publishes a volunteer ministry brochure every year, take a different approach. Rather than printing a three-page list of all your ministry needs—positions, money, donations, toys—offer the vision with a small sampling of general opportunities. Then highlight all the “wow” experiences taking place in your ministry and the goals your team is working toward. People are more likely to join your team if you project forward movement.
11. Showcase your kids. People relate to people. Make your ministry area engaging by showing off your most amazing asset: your kids! With parents’ per-mission, create poster-size images of kids and hang them along the walls. Again, enlist a designer’s help and an amateur photographer if you have access to one. Place the images in well-lit areas where traffic is high.
12. Communicate with Calendars. Email and snail mail are great tools you can use to keep all your families and leaders informed about the exciting events coming up. Send quarterly calendars with your logo that list all your major events. Include other major all-church events to encourage families to post the calendar and to support other ministry areas.
13. Be picky about your greeters. These people are the first face of your ministry to new families. Guests and even new families will make a decision about whether to leave their children with you based initially on the atmosphere of your area and your greeters. If you hand-select these people, your congregation will notice how well you attract new attendees, and your ministry will gain momentum.
14. Invite media in. Consider installing a monitor in a strategic location such as your entryway or check-in booth that loops images of your ministry and high-energy announcements. just as with your newsletter, quality counts—so get help from experienced techies who can help you pro-duce a quality message about your ministry.
15 Become a promoter. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, quickly moved from serving burgers behind the counter to casting his vision for new restaurants far from the counter. Your goal should be to move from being a technician of children’s ministry to a promoter of your ministry. Start small. Make it your goal to step out at least once a month to make announcements in the adult services, visit adult classes, or simply stand in the entryway and greet families. Moving from technician to promoter develops your leadership, demonstrates that you believe in your ministry, and indicates that you have a competent team in place that you trust.
16. Ask for prayer. Connect with adults throughout your church. Take time to visit adult classes and small groups to share your vision for your ministry and ask for prayer support. You may be surprised at the good response.
17. Spruce up your area White wall are boring and stale. Use every inch of your building to say you care about families. Find artistic, talented people to help you brainstorm and create an amazing space.
18. Infuse your atmosphere with music. Kids are fun; they love fun. Music communicates fun. Take a trip to a Christian bookstore or go online to find out what kids are listening to. When your kids hear their favorite Christian songs, they’ll be buzzing about your ministry.
19. Engage parents. Invite moms and dads to sit in on classes. Encourage family experiences. Parents are often surprised by the effort and quality that goes into a ministry for kids. Their level of respect will grow in correlation to how much you include and respect them.
20. Get official. One of the best ways to build a team bond is to do it visually. Send a team message of unity and goodwill through matching lanyards with name-tags, shirts, caps, nursery smocks, and more. Whatever you do, keep your team wear fun, hip, and practical.
Let’s face it; every music student wants to go to Juilliard, every med student wants to go to Johns Hopkins, and every law student wants to go to Harvard. People will go long distances to be associated with success. When you posture your ministry in a positive light, you’ll attract people who want to contribute to excellence. Your church leaders will happily support a ministry that shines. And your congregation will be delighted to hear all the wonderful things going on in your ministry!
This article “Sell the Sizzle” written by Adam Day is excerpted from Children’s Ministry magazine a Jan/Feb 08 edition.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”