Of course not! You never want to turn away kids but you do have to consider handling crowd control correctly. I can’t speak for every kids’ minister but I find the “I’m early for church” scenario is the one that challenges me most, especially during weeks when volunteers are late or new.
Handling the crowd, keeping kids safe and happy, begins way before Wednesday or Sunday. I spend a lot of time planning for those 15 to 30 minutes and I’ve come up with some ideas that don’t just fill space but teach and entertain.
Games that teach the books of the Bible. If you haven’t been on Pinterest yet, you should. I have found a wealth of Bible book games and crafts that really work. I found inspiration like a cup stacking activity that teaches kids the books of the Bible. Each cup has a book written on the rim of the plastic cup. The cups are in alternating colors. To help kids out, I put numbers on the bottoms of the cups so they can use the numbers to become familiar with the Bible books. In a few weeks, I’ll replace that set with cups that don’t have numbers. You can also recycle old CDs and use them as stackable Bible books. Print a cover for each one and put the CD’s on a table. Milk caps also make good tools for this.
Play countdown DVDs. A playful countdown DVD keeps kids excited by telling them what to expect next. You can find great tools online at kids’ worship websites or, if you have time, create your own with PowerPoint. Use the timings and animations to make presentations zing. You could make a calming countdown too.
Have Bible trivia on hand. Invest some money in a boxed set of Bible trivia questions. Kids can entertain each other during the pre-session by asking one another questions from the cards. Have a volunteer leader help, if you’re worried about kids losing or tearing cards up.
Give volunteer assignments. Children love to serve others. Find easy tasks for kids to do like put cards on a bulletin board, put paper towels at the busy hands station or set up a game or activity.
Have a mini praise practice. Don’t assume kids arrived early because parents forced them to come. If kids arrive early it’s because they love your ministry! Hold a mini praise practice with the early birds. Let them learn hand movements to a song or try out a new puppet praise skit. It’s a great time to invest in kids.
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Encouragement for Christians.