I asked this question in the forum on CM Connect last year and Kim Neese told me she would like to be able to add live worship music, more extravagant crafts and new puppets to her ministry. Susan Hughes said since her children's ministry was on the second floor, she would love to be able to add a slide for the kids to use when they leave and maybe a climbing wall for them to use to get to their classes! Keith Tusing said if money were no object and staffing was not an issue, he would love to own a mobile outreach vehicle . . . the type of large truck which opens up on the side to create a stage with built in AV equipment so he could share the Gospel on the street, in parks, downtown, shopping mall parking lots, etc. I think it would be great if the church I go to had an indoor play space for the preschool age kids. The church is on a corner in town - no yard, no room to put an outdoor play space and since it is in Michigan it is too cold for the kids to be outside playing anyway! An indoor space would be amazing!
Ah . . . it can be fun to dream a little, but, when it comes to our children’s ministry, the things on our “wish list” just might not be possible in light of the realities of our budgets. While a nice new play ground, puppets or a truck with built-in AV equipment would be wonderful additions to our ministries, utility bills have to be paid and you know you may not have as much of a budget this year as you did last year . . . and your budget was cut last year.
We might like new things for our ministries, but when our budgets are cut we have to deal with the reality of what we like may not match up with what we can actually do. So, is it possible to generate enthusiasm and provide the resources you'd like for your children’s ministry . . . even if you are operating on a limited budget? Absolutely! Walk with me through your children’s ministry and let’s take a look at some “possibilities”!
- consider your curriculum - is it truly effective? If you need to make a change, ask your local Christian bookstore if they can help you evaluate curriculum - usually this service will be provided at no cost to your church. Check my curriculum reviews, too - they are free!
- ask publishers for curriculum samples – these are usually free.
- once you decide which curriculum you are most interested in, contact the publisher to see if they have consultants who can answer questions and even provide free training for your volunteers to introduce them to their new curriculum/tools.
- ask your bookstore/publisher for discounts and/or free shipping.
- Check e-church depot as they offer savings on many curriculum resources.
- order past VBS resources from e-church depot for your mid-week club.
- only order student flyers/take home papers if parents will commit to use them at home with their children.
- utilize reproducible curriculum.
- stock up on craft supplies. Check out the savings on the “staples” like construction paper, chenille wire, crayons, glue and more at S&S Worldwide and Oriental Trading.
- check with your local craft supply, office supply and membership warehouse stores to see if they will give a discount to your church.
- check out Christian Freebies and Ministry-to-Children - web sites with free resources for your children’s ministry!
- invite church families/members to join you for a “Supply Party”! Ask each person/family to bring a needed supply – provide a list.
- decorate by asking families for pictures of their children and then cover a door or utilize clothesline and clothes pins to hang pictures along a wall. (As new families/children attend your church, be sure to add their pictures as well!)
- ask the children to draw posters of their favorite Bible lesson and decorate your classroom with their artwork!
- add new puppets to your ministry by involving teens in making fun and unique puppets. Gospel Light has an excellent resource filled with ideas for creating your own puppets – Easy to Make Puppets. Provide popcorn, music and supplies and let the teens help out!
- ask volunteers to fill in an information card to let you know their birthdays, anniversary and birthdays of their children living at home as well as their email address, then when these important dates arrive, email cards to let your volunteers know they are appreciated! DaySpring has a wonderful site with free e-cards.
- for volunteers without e-mail, print out cards, have as many people in church as you can sign the card and present it to your volunteer in person! My Card Maker and Printfree are free sites where you can print out cards.
- find out which adult Sunday school class your volunteers would attend if they were not teaching the children and have adults from those classes “adopt” a volunteer.
- check out The Big Book of Service Projects and Give-it-away Crafts for Kids. Serving together is a terrific way for children to connect with each other and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money.
ministries, but with a limited budget, they just may not be options. However,
we can stock our classrooms, decorate our classrooms, train and support
our volunteers and encourage relationships so we have a genuinely effective
children’s ministry all on a limited budget! And don't be afraid to Dream a Little . . . who knows, if you dream it, you may find a way to make your dream come true! So what would you like to see happen in your ministry? Dream a little . . . visit the CM Connect forum and let me know your dream!