https://www.facebook.com/mikeclear/videos/10162140410105398/]

Welcome to the Orange Kids Podcast, where we talk kids’ ministry and discuss practical solutions to our weekly challenges. This week, hosts Mike Clear, Gina McClain, and Kellen Moore talk planning for Easter—including new volunteer recruitment and training, great signage, and check-in and follow-up for new families.

LET’S GET INTO THE EPISODE

Welcome to the Orange Kids Podcast, where we talk kids’ ministry and discuss practical solutions to our weekly challenges. This week, hosts Mike, Gina, and Kellen talk Easter—and the doctrines of prepping for first-time guests, wearing camo, egg hunt bouncers, and tidying up. We should note that Mike and Gina have unintentionally coordinated with their Sunday-best camo hoodies. Kellen has failed in this regard, though his shoes are camo, with hot pink on the sides. Mike banishes Kellen’s fake camo and brings us to the real reason for today’s episode:

EASTER                                              

It’s the church-equivalent of SuperBowl, when even the most nominal fan turns on the game.

You may not (okay, should not) be creating multi-million dollar commercials. But it’s a fantastic opportunity to invest resources in making Easter the best possible experience for families attending your church for the first time (or first time in a long time).

Whether you’ve been planning since the calendar flipped to 2019, or it’s just now hit you like a 300-pound linebacker that Easter is a month away—it’s not too late to take action. And we’ve got the tools for you!

Mike poses the question to his cohorts:

1. What are you doing for Easter?

Gina: Crosspoint Church has five locations, and all will add additional experiences.

The greatest challenge: How do we shift families who regularly attend Sunday mornings to some of those other dates and times to create space? We know people who don’t normally attend will come Sunday morning.

We’re keeping the actual experience and programming very simple. Instead, we’re putting resources into fine-tuning the new family host process so new families can move through the check-in experience quickly.  (‘Cause we all know showing up on time is ten minutes lat

Kellen: Our City Church meets at a school and will be adding an additional service time.

Since we have a big grass field, we are doing an Easter egg hunt. (Kellen flinches visibly.) It’s our church’s first Easter, so will have a lot of new people from the community. The egg hunt is a great way to connect them. We will also add check-in stations for new families.

Speaking of egg hunts, Mike suggests bouncers. People lose their minds. And not the kids! It’s the parents dragging their children across the field in desperate search of treasure. Er… 99-cent store candy.

2. How do you find new volunteers for Easter?

Instead of making this a one-and-done thing for volunteers, it could be a great opportunity for them to check out your ministry, kick the tires, and potentially come back.

Gina does “The lobby troll”—connecting and inviting potential volunteers to be a part of Easter weekend.

The lobby troll works best in tandem with a push from the main service platform: There are going to be people giving church a chance for the first time ever. You have the opportunity to be part of something special.

Kellen adds that: Phrasing is important. Asking for “help” instead of offering opportunity discredits the importance of next generation.

Gina: You are part of something greater. Here is how you can contribute.

Kellen notes it’s important to manage expectations, especially if this is a temporary net cast: “This is our Superbowl and we need as many players on the field as possible.” Give them the option: It’s just one hour.

Gina: The lobby invite has more credibility with a platform push. If someone serves for the first time Easter weekend and has a good experience, you have a great chance for them to come back.

Mike: In addition to platform and lobby pushes—Lean into your current volunteer base to recruit new volunteers. Like attracts like.

3. What do you suggest for background checks and training, when the volunteer process has to be “microwaved”?

Gina points out that since background checks can take up to a week or more, consider engaging brand-new volunteers in places they don’t need a background check, like greeting, human signage, and check in.

However—give them an identifying name tagWhen you are in the thick of it with screaming babies, you need to be able to quickly identify who is background checked.

Regarding training, Kellen notes their usual process is to have a potential volunteer shadow serve and then serve with an existing volunteer for 2-3 weeks. Since that’s not always possible at Easter, he suggests using key leaders to multiply yourself. Have those key leaders meet for coffee with the new volunteers.

Gina: Be able to hand a document to that leader to prioritize one-on-one training.

  1. Policies and procedures that keep kids safe.
  2. What’s the true win? Let your face communicate to a kid that you are so excited they showed up and are excited to spend time with them. That’s the win.

 Mike: Do something extra special for your volunteers if they have to miss the service. Have the senior pastor speak directly to them for a few minutes. Feed them a full breakfast. Give a small gift.

4. Review your facilities in a new light before Easter.

Mike: You get numb to the realities of your facility week in and out. New guests are coming in looking through a new series of lenses. You can’t control everything, but some things you can change, like—

THE ENTRANCE

 Gina: Clarity is huge. Go park in your parking lot and ask if it’s clear what door you go into. Is it obvious where your front entrance is?

Create signage using pop up banners, parking cones, and human signage (another great spot to use new volunteers).

Inside your facility: what indicates where you go for children’s ministry? Walk it out step by step. How clear is this for a parent to see and engage?

Kellen notes that meeting at a school, they have a trailer full of A-frame signage. They place two giant banners outside the main entrance—one for the church, and one the same size for the children’s ministry… which happens to be up four flights of stairs on a roundabout curve followed by a brisk 50-yard hike! On Easter, they plan to have pairs of people planted all along that pathway to make it easy.

Portable church nurseries are even more difficult. Especially for Kellen, whose instincts are to offer a 9-month-old candy and reruns of the So & So Show.

Our City Church covers the cinder-block walls with colorful pipe and drape. The goal is to emulate Disney by appealing to all the senses: When you walk to our nursery, you smell a diffuser with peppermint or lavender. There are lullabies playing. It’s all for the moms. In a portable scenario, if the parents like what they see before they see what they may not like, they’re already invested. It might be chaotic in there for my kid, but I know they are going to be taken care of.

Gina: One of the benefits of portable, you don’t have the opportunity to get cluttered. But in a permanent space, clutter happens. Put on fresh eyes so you can see things you’ve missed. Pull out broken toys. Find those spots on the wall that need mud.

Mike suggests tidying up. Do these toys spark joy?!

Gina just wants to know how you fold a Mr. Potato Head.

Mike summarizes: People need to know clearly where they are going. Signage and cleanliness are important to help parents: If they care about this place to this degree, they will care that much more for me and my little one.

5. Talk to me about your check-in system. What do we need to pay attention to, especially in regard to Easter?

Kellen: We are going from two laptops to four for Easter—two lines for regular attenders and two for first time guests.

They also have a backup plan with an Excel spreadsheet + stickers and wrist bands if the computers go wonky and lines start to stack up.

Mike agrees: You have got to have a Plan B. Here is what I am sure of on Easter: He is Risen, but your machine will go down.

6. Let’s talk about follow up. What’s next for first-time guests?

Gina: Identify kids who came for the first time and the leader they were paired with. Invite that leader to send a handwritten card with something specific they enjoyed about the child. If that leader can show up in the kid’s life in a specific way, you have a good chance that family will come back. You make me feel good, I appreciate that. You make my kid feel good, you have my heart. I am going to take them back.

Mike adds: The power of a handwritten note in a social media age goes further than you think.

Kellen’s previous church gave first-time visitors a special brightly-colored backpack. This made it easy to identify first-time families in the lobby after the service and get attenders onboard with welcoming those new families

7. What about churches that do an all-skate and have kids together with parents in the main service?

Gina: …DO NOT give them an airplane to put together and throw.

Kellen: SENIOR PASTOR ALERT—If you’re going to have the kids in there, DO throw in family-geared illustrations.

Ultimately consider something separate for preschool and elementary, coloring and activity pages, and a snack that’s NOT loud and crunchy.

THE TAKEAWAY

Take a look at this list and make sure you’re considering each item for your Easter weekend service(s)!

  1. New volunteer recruitment and training
  2. Facilities (especially signage)
  3. Check-in
  4. New family follow up
  5.