When a new family visits your children’s ministry, you’ve got one opportunity to make a good impression. Your core families may forgive you for an overflowing garbage can or your late arrival but new families…not so much. Unfortunately, ministry isn’t always neat and tidy and even the most organized kids’ pastor can have an off day. I know I have!
After my near fifteen years experience, I can see six areas that really matter to new families, at least in my neck of the woods. New families want to see these six things in your kids’ ministry.
A web presence: Before I go to a restaurant or a place of business, I check out the website. I look for a few things like clear directions, good reviews and product information. Families “shopping” for a church look for the same things. They want clear directions, information about what you offer and what you plan to teach their kids. It’s important to have a web presence, even if all you can afford or have skill for is a Facebook page. Update it often and post pictures of your leaders and ministry events. It helps!
Good classroom directions: Once a new family decides to visit your facility, they want to know where to go. In some cases, this may not be an issue but if your classrooms or kids’ church is located in an out-of-the-way place, it could be. I wouldn’t want to wander around a strange facility looking for a classroom. Greeters and ushers in the sanctuary and greeting areas should escort new families to the kids’ ministry, not just point to the door.
A clean facility: When parents and kids visit your facility they shouldn’t see garbage or smell stinky odors. It does help to “visit” your own facility and look for eyesores that you normally overlook. Keep everything clean and smelling great.
Guest table signage: Once a visitor enters the facility, it should be clear where Mom and Dad can get information. Make sure your welcome table has a sign and a volunteer with a smile! You shouldn’t have to search for contact forms, have everything ready including pens.
Visible security: Sadly we live in a time when security is important, even at church. Even if you don’t have a security guard, you should take security precautions. Do you have a way to put your class in lock down? Do you have keys to exit doors? You should also review your child pick up policy and have clear guidelines for volunteers. These things matter to all families, including new ones.
Follow up: Visiting families like to know what comes next. Don’t just send kids out the door with a cheery, “Thanks for coming!” Parents should know about other services like Wednesday nights or weekend events. They also need to know when they will hear from you again. I always tell parents that their child can expect a card from me in a few days. It’s a nice way to stay in touch and parents will see that you are a person of your word!