Successful Check Ins
By Mike Johnson
Many churches have some form of check-in system for children-but what makes the process successful? When establishing a check-in system for your church, keep these four things in mind:
Easy Check In
A good check-in system assures a speedy process. Long lines and crowded check-in areas give parents a negative view of your ministry before your programming even begins. A speedy check-in process communicates organization and efficiency, and parents will apply that overall impression to your ministry.
The computerized system we use at our church allows us to monitor, in real time, all classrooms from one central location. From the check-in computer, we can observe the number of volunteers and children in each room. This helps balance the number of children in each room and assures adult-to-child ratios are correct. With our system, we can also open a room designated as “closed” for a child who needs to be in a specific room for any reason. This keeps kids and parents happy because their children
can still have access to the same teacher each week.
Your check-in system also increases the security of the children in your care. At Fellowship Church, our parents are assigned a random number each time they check in, and that number is printed on the parent’s receipt and the child’s name tag. Random numbers prevent duplication from week-to-week so a non-custodial parent or an unauthorized adult can’t compromise a child’s safety. Having the number on the child’s name tag also keeps check-out lines short because we only need to match the parent’s receipt~ number with the child’s name tag for pick-up.
A good computer check-in system also stores important health information such as a food allergy or medical condition in its database. This allows medical alert information to be printed on the child’s tag. A good system also allows you to view information such as birthdays or church involvement (nothing confidential however). This allows your check-in volunteers to have access to all necessary information so families can be welcomed in a personal manner.
Check-in systems are ideal when tied in to a pager system or LED screens placed in your worship center and around your church. This enables you to notify parents if they need to return to the children’s area to retrieve a sick, injured, or distressed child.
The family follow-up advantages of a computerized check-in system can be substantial. Throughout the week, your system can provide a list of children who were absent the previous weekend, first-time visitors, and upcoming birthdays.
Following up with families in a variety of areas is crucial. At Fellowship Church, we call families who miss three weekends in a row. We call again when families miss six weeks in a row. We’ve discovered that 85 % of the families who receive a call after missing three weeks don’t show up on the six-week list. That’s huge! Assigning these calls manually took a week to accomplish and slowed our process significantly with sub-par results-having a computerized check-in system allows us to do this much more efficiently.
Computerized vs. Manual
While computer check-in systems are faster and more efficient, you can achieve many of the same results using manual check-in systems. Before we went online, our church used books with the information for each child printed in them. A volunteer would highlight every child’s name when they arrived and then someone else would manually enter the information into a computer database during the week. Parents received tokens marked with random numbers that were written near the child’s name and on his or her name tag. Upon pickup the numbers on the tokens and name tags were matched up.
Manual check-in systems save costs in the technology area-simple lists can be developed using basic programs such as Microsoft Excel. The drawbacks of a manual system are the amount of labor required to obtain pertinent information, the loss of quick and easy contact ability, and the lack of accessible information during check in.
Computerized systems also have one significant drawback-the potential of the system going down during prime-time check in. When using a computerized check-in system, it’s important to retain a manual system as a backup. However, the advantages of a computerized check in far outweigh this drawback.
Ideas from Section One Sunday School – Wisconsin District, UPCI
By Loretta Lundt
Part of the goal of the WDN is to share programs or ministries from other churches in the state, thus allowing others to see what is happening and possibly follow their example. The Pentecostals of the Fox Cities have a unique summer children’s program that has been working for them for many years. I spoke with Sis. Rose Busch, their Sunday School superintendent, to learn more about how their program works.
Every summer they choose a theme –space, western, bugs, polar…. to name a few. They then choose a Vacation Bible School curriculum and transform it from a weekly program into one that will last the entire summer. At the beginning of the summer there is a kick-off service. About midway through, they have a puppet team that does the main story and a church-wide picnic after. The grand finale of the summer is children’s revival and carnival. This year, they invited back The King’s Clown, Bro. Lloyd Squires, for the children’s revival. Sis. Rose exclaims that he is loved by the children and adults both!
Sis. Busch states that the Sunday School teachers look forward to the summertime because it gives them an opportunity to relax a bit and enjoy the summer with the children in their classes. They decorate their classrooms theme-specific and also plan a game booth for the end-of-summer carnival. This used to be done just for the carnival, but has been adapted to be summer-long for all to enjoy longer. The mid-summer picnic includes activities for the children such as jump toys (Moon Walk), bubbles & kites. This year they even had a fair-type airplane ride for the younger children. Everyone, children and teachers alike, looks forward to the indoor carnival at summer’s end complete with games, tickets, and prizes. Each game is a review of a Bible story that was taught throughout the summer, and there is also a play area for younger children.
One seemingly small, but extremely effective role is the theme character that comes into the sanctuary each Sunday morning to dismiss the children to Summer Sunday School. Bro. Brad DePasse has traditionally volunteered his services for this role, and he does an excellent job raising the enthusiasm of the congregation. Adults and children alike enjoy his light-hearted jokes and sometimes out-of-control antics that set the stage for that morning’s Bible story and activities.
Once dismissed, the children go to their designated Sunday School classrooms for a 10 minute pre-session time. Then they all gather for a 20-minute worship time, led by Sis. Vicki DePasse and Sis. Cheri Stoffel, during which they learn the summer’s them song. Next, they separate into two age groups for the main story. The puppet team, led by Sis. Krista Knuth, and the Sunday School teachers team up to put on a drama during this time. They conclude each service with an altar call, giving the children an opportunity to respond to the word of God, just like in the “big church”. After this time the children return to their respective classrooms for an activity and a themed snack prepared by the Sunday School teachers. Activities may include a craft, object lesson, memory verse game or Bible point video. Children are dismissed when the adult service is done.
What makes the Sunday School program, including the summer program, such a success is the support of the pastors and the church members. There are the puppet team, choir directors, bus ministry, Sunday School helpers, and teachers that all work together to make the summer a fun and fantastic time. Sis. Busch states the summer program has been very successful for the church. The investments of time, talent and treasure are great, but the eternal results reaped in the lives of the children are more than worth it. It is the Sunday School department’s biggest outreach for children, and shows in the Sunday school attendance, that stays up all summer. Sis. Busch exclaims, “It just works!”
This article Successful Check Ins by Mike Johnson is excerpted from www.childrensministry.com/leaders.