Project Management Scope – Keeping Your Focus

Project Management for Children’s Pastors

Scope – Keeping Your Focus

Hitting the Target Goal

Every Children’s Pastor should know the basics of project management. Project management is a system to handle the many facets of a project including scope, time, resources, and cost. Some major projects a children’s pastor might have throughout the year that project management skills might help with are Vacation Bible School, benevolence projects, missions projects, Christmas program, fun and evangelistic events, and other major projects.

Unfortunately most Children’s Pastors try to manage these major projects with to do lists and time management systems meant for every day occurrences.  As essential as project management is, most children’s pastors have never been trained in it and have no clue what to do.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll post about some of the essentials in project management and how you can use them in managing your children’s ministry events. Today I’ll cover scope.

Scope is a term used by project management to define what a project’s objective is. Basically you’re are stating your vision for the project. I’ll give you an example.

What is the main goal or objective for Vacation Bible School. There may be more than one. Is it to excite children in your church about God? Is the main goal to see children saved? Is discipleship and missions a big part of your VBS? Is your main goal to get children to attend your church?

All of these goals are good, but you need to focus on one of these as a primary goal. If you try to focus on all of these things, the result will be confusing and haphazard. Once you know your main goal, it will influence everything else about how you manage your project.

For instance, if your main goal is to see children saved at your VBS, you’ll want to pick a curriculum that is strong in emphasizing that. You probably won’t want to emphasis mission giving as much. You’ll want to advertize outside of the church, and you’ll want to encourage children to bring their unsaved friends.

If discipleship with a missions emphasis is your main goal, you’ll advertise mainly inside the church. You’ll want to choose a curriculum that emphasizes discipleship and missions. You might want to encourage children to save or do fundraisers for the offerings taken. That emphasis will affect every choice you make.

If your goal is to increase your church attendance, you might want to reach out to the entire family, maybe have a class or fellowship group for parents while their children are in VBS. Follow-up will be one of your most important tools for this goal. And you’ll want to make sure every parent receives information about what happens normally in the children’s ministry and other ministries in the church.

Every children’s ministry event you have should start with Scope. Defining vision and objectives will help you focus your project in a way to make it more effective. If you have too many targets to aim at, you probably won’t hit any of them. Scope, just like the scope on a camera or a rifle,  helps you keep your focus and hit the target you’re aiming at.

How to Deal with Time Wasters?

Here’s some common time wasters and how to control them.

Email: Email is a useful tool, but it can become time-consuming. Here’s some ideas to keep that from happening. Have a certain time of the day to check your emails and respond to them or schedule a follow-up the first time you read them. Also unsubscribe to any groups that send emails that aren’t useful to you.

Social Media: Social media is wonderful. You can connect with friends and unwind by playing FB games. It’s also a great device for promotion and communication. But if you’re not careful, it can eat hours out of your day. To keep this from happening, schedule certain times for social media and set a timer to make sure you don’t spend too much time on there. I use http://e.ggtimer.com/ to make sure I don’t go over the time allotted.

Communicating Events: Communicating about events can be a time management disaster if you do it the old-fashioned way of telephoning everyone. Make use of texting, social media events groups and calendars, and email to inform people about what’s going on.

Meetings: Meetings can be productive, but they can also be time consuming. If you call a meeting, make sure there’s a reason and stick to an agenda to make your meeting more productive.

Unimportant Tasks: Go through the things you normally do each week. Decide which tasks can be done easier and more effectively. Also delegate tasks you don’t have to do. Finally eliminate unnecessary things from your schedule.

One thing you never want to eliminate is spending time with your students. That’s not a time waster, it’s ministry.

Planning Significant Events for Children’s Ministry

Many times children’s pastors are bogged down by a busy calendar with events they plan at the last minute. Some of these events, sometimes important ones, get left by the wayside while others that have no influence of significance are at the forefront.

It’s not important how busy your calendar is. What is important is how effective your events are. This year, try looking at events in a new way. Throw out the ones that don’t work or change them, and consider new ideas.

Here’s a guide to decide what events to plan.

Is the event something your children’s ministry is known for? There are some events that will resonate with the children in the community. Your children’s ministry will be known for having those events every year.

It may be that you have the most creative VBS around or that you have a Back to School Bash and Block Party that nobody wants to miss. Those are the events you want to keep on your calendar at all costs.

Is the event working? You have VBS every year with the same theme as ten other churches within a one mile radius. It’s hard to find workers, and only 20 kids show up, but you’ve always had VBS. This event may have worked at one time, but it’s time to give it a proper burial.

You may decide to do something different this year. Have a kid’s crusade or a sports camp. Do a block party or park ministry. The point is you have options. Don’t keep doing something that doesn’t work.

Do you have the resources and workers to hold an event? You want to give bookbags and school supplies to those in need. But if your church only has a congregation of fifty, you may not have the resources to do what you’ve planned.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have the event, but you do have to take that into consideration. You might decide to hold off until your church grows. Or you might partner with other churches and community organizations to make it happen. Or you might limit it to children in your church. But you need to consider that factor.

What need does this event meet?

Does your children’s ministry need to disciple? Then you’ll want to plan events that meet that need.

Do the children in your ministry not connect with each other? Then you might want to plan some fellowship events.

Does your children’s ministry have a problem reaching the community? Then you’ll want to plan community outreaches that draw in more than church families.

Consider the needs of your children’s ministry, and plan events accordingly.

What purpose does your event have? The church has a five-fold purpose: evangelism, fellowship, benevolence, worship, and discipleship. Make sure every event you plan fits neatly in one of those purposes. It may overlap some, but don’t try to have events that are geared toward all of these purposes. When you know an events purpose, you can plan it better.

For instance, if I have a children’s ministry party whose purpose is evangelism, I’m going to find creative ways to get children outside the church, but if it’s purpose is fellowship, my main goal will be to get church children there and provide team building activities for them. If an event doesn’t have one of those five purposes, it doesn’t need to be on your calendar.

Do you have the time and the workers? It’s better to have a couple of events that really work than to load your calendar with an event every month. Consider resources, time constraints, and workers available when planning your events.

Also consider what’s going on in other areas of the church. Don’t expect teenage workers to help if they have their own party going on at the same time.

If your church has a ladies event every year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, that probably isn’t the right time to plan a children’s outing. Many of your workers, moms, won’t be available to help, and they won’t bring their children because they already have plans.

During Christmas, consider that moms are overwhelmed with chores. Don’t expect them to show up at Christmas Play rehearsals unless you can advertise it to them that they can leave their kids there while they finish up their shopping.

Balancing Family and Ministry

One of the greatest challenges in children’s ministry, and in all ministry, is to balance time for family and time for the ministry. God makes it clear our family should be our priority. If we get other children saved yet lose our own family, our ministry is worthless. Here’s a few tips to help you do that.

Do ministry as a family. Involve your spouse and children while your doing ministry. This way, you spend time with your family doing something important instead of spending so much time away from them. It has the added benefit of training and mentoring your children in ministry.

Block out family nights. In this busy world we live in, families rarely spend time together, let alone eat together. One of the best ways to counteract this is to declare family nights where every member of the family is required to be there. Plan a special dinner, a fun devotion, and a great activity everyone enjoys. Even when my kids were teenagers, they looked forward to family night.

Plan date nights. Plan one evening a week to have a date with your spouse. Respect your spouse by making this time a priority that you don’t break except in emergencies.

Take family vacations together. Big vacations are great, but if you can’t afford them, take a few days to go camping or go to an amusement park near you. Mini vacations can be as much fun as the larger ones.

Always take your wife and children’s calls. No matter who you are with or what you are doing, make them your priority.

When you’re swamped, tell your family what to expect and make up the time later. We all have certain times through the year that are our busy seasons, and we all have crunch weeks during those times, times when family night or date night are impossible. When that happens, communicate with your family and tell them how long it will last. Then plan a special family time afterwards.

What suggestions do you have to make sure you balance ministry and family life?

Developing a Schedule

Developing a schedule you can work with is one of the most important features of planning your children’s ministry. A weekly schedule of when you do certain things will revolutionize your productivity.

Here’s a few things to remember when developing a schedule:

Group like items together. Block out portions of time to do different tasks. For instance, you may want to make all your phone calls, emails, and texts first thing in the morning to get them out of the way. You might want to plan lessons on one day of the week and organize upcoming events on another day. However you decide to do it, grouping like items together will help you stay focused and get a lot more done.

Work with your natural rhythms. Some people are more energetic in the morning but lag in the afternoon. Others focus better on quiet activities in the morning but get a burst of energy after lunch. Whatever you natural inclination is, don’t work against it. Schedule keeping it in mind.

Schedule Dream Time. Plan times to dream up new idea and explore new possibilities. You’ll be amazed at how creative you can be when you schedule regular times for this.

Don’t Overload Your Schedule. Everything takes longer to do than you think it will. Plan cushions in your schedule to compensate for problems you may encounter.

Plan Catch-Up Days. Everyone gets behind at times and has things on their to do list they never get to. By planning days to catch up on those things, you’ll be amazed how much you get done.

Use Tickler Files. Office managers used to have files in their desks called tickler files. When something came up that didn’t need done right away, they would put it in their tickler files to check up on at a later date. While these are no longer used, it is a good idea to schedule things in your calendar for a later date that you don’t have time to deal with now.

Be Flexible. There are times when you’ll be too busy to follow your schedule. Other times, an emergency will come up to interrupt what you’re doing. Then there are people who will need you to minister to them at times when you planned to do something else. When those things happen, don’t worry about your schedule. Do what’s important. You can always get back on track later on. People are more important than schedules.

Types of Calendars

Schedules and calendars are vital to an effective children’s ministry. Here’s some types of calendars and calendar sharing you can use.

Old School Planners: Some people don’t do well planning on a computer or tablet. This need to write out their plans. If this is you and you want to use  paper planners, the best resource is Franklin Planners available at most office supply stores. Look at what they have available, and choose one that fits your needs.

Microsoft Outlook: If you have a Windows computer, there’s nothing better than Microsoft Outlook to plan your schedule.

ICal: ICal is a calendar program that comes standard on most Apple devices. It’s easy to use and easy to sync.

Google Calendars: If you prefer an online calendar, then Google Calendars is your best choice.

Syncing: Syncing calendars can be done with Windows Live, Dropbox, and other programs or by using an online calendar such as Google, but the best method is to use the I-Cloud. Click here for instructions on how to sync calendars using I-Cloud.

 

 

What To Do When You Have Too Much To Do

At some point in every overworked children’s pastor’s life, he or she will become overwhelmed with a number of major issues and projects at one time. Summer is one of the busiest times on the children’s ministry calendar and can make a children’s pastor want to run away to some tropical island that doesn’t have children. help is on the way. Here’s what to do when the pressure of your to do list bears down on you.

1. Make A To Do List: Write down everything you need to do no matter how small or large. Just having it written down in black and white will relieve some of the pressure because you don’t have to remember everything.

2. Pray Over The List: Before you start tackling your to do list, lay hands on it and pray for God’s wisdom and guidance. This is a must.

3. Cross Off Unimportant Items: Look through the list. Cross off anything that doesn’t have to be done. You may want to color code your puppets and alphabetize your object lessons, but you don’t need to do that. Say no to the perfectionist within you. But don’t stop there. Any projects, events, or meetings that aren’t essential should also be crossed off.

4. Procrastinate: Write a new to do list of items that can wait until this crisis period is over. There are things that need to be done but can wait. During crunch time, only do what you have to do now. After making your procrastination list, file it. Then write on your calendar the date you’ll pull the wait to do list back out.

5. Delegate: This is the time to rally the troops. Check every item that can be done by someone other than you. Then call in your family, friends, and children’s ministry team and be brutally honest. Tell them you’re in over your head and need their help during this short-lived busy season.

6. Prioritize: Look at the list you have left. Group like jobs together to make them easier. Then number the list in order of importance.

7. Limit Interruptions: Tell friends and co-workers you’ll be unavailable except during certain times. This will give you large chunks of time to get busy on the to do list.

8. Have Fun: After tackling some of the jobs, take a break and do something relaxing and fun. When you get back to work, you’ll be relaxed and better able to handle the stress.

9. Take Care of Yourself: Exercise and healthy eating help you keep down your stress levels which will help you work faster and be more productive.

10. Unwind: After the crisis period, take a little time to yourself to unwind before tackling the jobs you put off. It you don’t allow yourself downtime, you may find yourself burning out.

Project Management For Children’s Pastors

It’s time to start planning children’s ministry for the school year. Most church calendars go September to August, so I’ll spend the next couple of weeks giving you helpful planning advise.

Project Management is an essential tool for children’s pastors. Children’s ministry is filled with huge projects that can’t be done effectively without project management. Some projects include Christmas and Easter programs, discipleship programs, holiday events such as a Halleluia Costume Carnival, Easter Egg Hunt and Back to School Bash, summer outreach, missions projects, choir, drama – the list goes on to infinity.

Most children’s pastors haven’t been trained with the skills they need to manage all these projects, but they can learn these skills. Here’s a series of blog posts to help you learn project management for children’s pastors.

Part 1: Introduction and Scope

Part 2: Resources and Team Building

Part 3: List Your Steps

Part 4: Work Your Plan

 

Keys to Being an Effective Children’s Minister

People are always looking for a new formula to make them effective as children’s pastors, leaders, and teachers. But the keys to being an effective leader in children’s ministry have never changed.

Spend time in the presence of God: There’s no shortcut to this. If you spend time in the presence of God reading Scripture, praying, and seeking His guidance, you will be effective. Here’s some things to do while you are spending time with God.

Pray regularly for students. There is no quicker way to love your students and have a passion for leading them to God than to pray for each of them by name.

Pray for church leaders. Sometimes we do children’s ministry in a vacuum, but the truth is that children’s ministry won’t be effective if the rest of the church is not healthy. Your pastor and leaders need wisdom and guidance from God.

Pray for the anointing as you come before your class each week. People confuse what the anointing means at times. Basically it’s God giving you His ability to do what He’s called you to do.

Pray for a Word from the Lord every week.  Bible stories and games are fine, but they mean nothing if the children’s lives are not changed.

Rest in God’s presence until you have a vision and a clear direction for your class.  If that direction is from God, it will correspond with the vision of the pastor and leaders.

Fast. This is not something we like to hear in today’s society, but it was assumed in Scripture that Jesus’ disciples would fast.

Remember the Lid Principle. Basically the lid principle says that we can’t rise above our leadership. That means that your students can’t rise spiritually above where you are.

Set goals for your ministry. Spend time prayerfully considering what goals you want for your ministry. Set attainable yearly, quarterly, and weekly goals.

Prepare for class time, services, and events. Have a plan for everything you do and work the plan to be successful.

Resolution #2 – Be Prepared Earlier For Sunday Morning

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This blog gets more hits on Saturday evenings than any other time of the week. I can’t say for sure I know why that is, but I do know that most of the posts looked at during that time are for object lessons and children’s sermons. It’s great this blog provides much needed resources, but the earlier you prepare, the easier it will flow on Sunday. Here’s a few steps to make sure you’re prepared early.

Decide how much time it takes to prepare for children’s church. Once you know how much time it takes, you can work it into your schedule.

Schedule a time to prepare your lesson. Some people like to prepare the whole thing at once. Others like to divide it into bite size pieces. Whatever works for you, make sure you’re finished by Friday. If Saturday’s the only day you have to prepare, get a week ahead on preparation.

The reason for this is because if you have a game plan already in place, you can spend time praying for the students and about the lesson. Also the creative side of your brain has room to mull over what you’re doing. If you come up with some fantastic object lesson, you’ll have time to get it together and make sure you have the supplies you need. If you wait until Saturday night, you’re limited in what you can do.

Pray before you plan and after you plan. By planning early, you’ll have time to seek God about your lesson. It may be the Holy Spirit will nudge you in a certain way. But if you wait until Saturday night, God won’t be able to speak as clearly through you planning frenzy. Prepare early and give God time to work.