Recently I had coffee with a children's leader who I have been mentoring. She is relatively new to children's ministry and asked "What makes your life easier?". Of course I started with the advice of being in the word, daily prayer, (like a good mentor should) and making sure you are being fed as a leader. While it doesn't necessarily make ministry "easy" it does however make it joyful! She grinned and agreed, then proceeded with the question "no, really! What products make your children's ministry world spin?" Ah. Better stated there!
As we all know, the Biblical foundation is the center of what we do. But for this woman, she had no idea where to start with basic tools. I am finding that the more I speak to fellow city ministry leaders that we are a huge source of product review! So much to the point that our next coffee session will be just that. Once a quarter I invite the leaders of everything kidmin in our county to coffee. We discuss special events; ministry development, and so much more. Let's face it, a group of children's ministry leaders in one place all hyped up on coffee can be quite the event! So this time I have asked them to bring 5 and 5. Five they loved; and 5 not so much and tell us why.
So for my online friends who I consistently am asked for recommendations from, here are my top five children's ministry products. I lean on them to assist with what I do, and have picked them from a stewardship standpoint. A product that conserves my ministry time and money is huge to me. Of course there are more than 5, but let's keep it simple.
1. CPC - Children's Pastor's Conference and CMConnect
Yes, I am listing it as a product! As a leader I need to be refueled and so does my team. I have learned over the years that ministry vision can become tunnel vision if allowed. For me this conference causes me to think a little different. Every year I go with a vague list of things I have been praying about. Last year, it was family ministry. This year it will be special needs. I will attempt to soak up everything I can on this topic as well as some personal care and leadership time. When I leave this session every year, I am energized and feel like another corner of my brain has just been opened. Bottom line, there is a price tag, but plan ahead and get the early bird rate because it's worth it.
As for CMConnect, it's a free online forum of constant children's ministry knowledge! Try it!
2. Kid Check
If you follow me on twitter, you know I love it! I have been in ministry for 17 years and this is the first record keeping/security software I have found that I can honestly say does everything I want it to. I have actually made up grand scheme ideas of things I think it should do....and later found out it does. This product is paired with an amazing customer service team. The help desk is available on Sundays should you need them, and there are packages to fit any congregation size. The best part is the fact that they are not stuck in a time zone, this company keeps up with technology and is consistently adding features to make it effective.
3. Parent Link Newsletter
Tools! I love them! I absolutely love giving my parents tools for at home use. I however do not like tools that are so formatted I have to make compromises by using them. This is a yearly subscription newsletter for parents. It's basic information, usually with a seasonal theme that can be fully personalized to your church. If you don't like a portion, delete it and fill with what you like. I make this available on our church site as well as have a few printed copies for parents. It comes in a download in word or publisher and it extremely user friendly.
Tools, did I mention I love them? The last one was for parents, this one is for my leaders. In a ministry where we have over a hundred volunteers and several key staff, it's so important to make sure they have the tools that they need. Our teachers are provided with curriculum, crafts, copies and music, but what happens when they need that extra something? This is a simple subscription we carry and is a hub of tools for leaders. They can login and get anything from holiday ideas to object lessons and they love it.
5. Protect My Ministry
Background checks. If you aren't doing them, you are putting your ministry in harm's way. We used a service for years that was paper driven. As you know, entering backgrounds one by one is very time consuming and that information can't be given to just anyone to input. Making the change to protect my ministry financially is about the same for the cost of each check, but for a small yearly fee depending on what you select; volunteers can be sent a link to input their own information and you receive the results. They have yearly reminders and keep up with today's technology. This is new for me; but has already saved me hours of time!
Like I said, these are five of my favorites. There are some great things out there that are created for children's ministry by people who have served and know the demands. Have a recommendation? Leave me a comment! I love hearing about new stuff!