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Church Plant resources: A guide to growing your Kid’s Ministry

As a leader in a church plant, you understand how critical your work is to sharing sound theology and your church's mission. And while your work is undoubtedly important, it certainly isn't easy. Fellow church planters will attest, you'll likely encounter a few hurdlesfrom choosing ther right location to building a volunteer base to raising up leaders. Our guide is here to help with the piece we're experts at: church nursery child care. 

Let this guide serve as your church plant's resource for nursery set up and tear down, mobilizing volunteers, and all things Kid's Ministry.

The church plant guide to building your Kid's Ministry

a portable, colorful set up of a kid's ministry in a temporary church plant space

Creating a welcoming and efficient space

Set-up & tear-down

Setting up a nursery or Kid's Ministry program in your church can be a challenge. But as a church plant in a temporary space—like a hotel or high school—it gets even trickier. Rule number one? No matter what your supplies and equipment look like, always create a set up and tear down checklist for your team. That way, it's as simple as possible to replicate the set up week after week.

Speaking of simple...while your church plant is in a borrowed space, keep your Kid's Ministry setup as simple as possible. Simple doesn't have to mean boring! It can (and should!) still be a welcoming environment where your little ones can nurture and grow their faith. You don't need a ton of play sets to keep kids entertained and excited about church. For many children, an abundance of activities of in a small space can lead to sensory overload. So narrow your set-up to key pieces that are comfortable and engaging, and won't break your volunteers' backs...or the bank.

You can consider some of the more mobile elements from our list of church nursery decor ideas. For instance, a small soft play area is a great way to engage children, and will travel well to your next location. Carpet tiles or gymnastics mats are also key to making your floor space safe for little ones.

Don't forget to create a tear-down checklist, as well. Include specifics, like how many supplies go in each bin, where to store the bins, and any other pertinent information. That way, your set-up volunteers will have a smooth Sunday morning the following week.

Separating age groups

If you don't have access to classrooms, consider using toddler fences, baby gates, or pipe and drape curtains to section off areas by age group. Even with a few children, it's paramount to keep age groups separated, as pairing bigger kids with smaller children can become safety hazard.You can also look into play panels or portable walls, depending on your budget and the length of time you expect to use the equipment.

For an even more cost-effective option, ask your team to get creative! Are there other offices, or even hallways, you have access to that could transform into a warm and safe space for your smallest group of children? Thinking outside the box can save time and money.

Storage & supplies

Next up, you'll need to build a list of supplies for your nursery and Kid's Ministry. We recommend sorting your list by age group and getting specific to include quantities and descriptions.

For your church plant nursery, consider stocking:

  • A changing pad
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Cleaning spray
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Garbage bags
  • Gloves
  • Simple snacks, like O cereal or crackers
  • Small paper cups
  • A water pitcher
  • Toys & books (consider how many bins' worth you may need per age group, depending on your church's size)
  • Hanging file box for curriculum materials (if needed)
  • Crayons
  • iPads or clipboard for check-in and check-out
  • Rug or gymnastics mats
  • Baby gates
  • Portable cribs
  • Foldable rocking chairs

For your Kid's Ministry (older children), consider stocking:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Crayons (in separate containers for ease of distributing)
  • Markers
  • Pens, pencils
  • Hanging file box for curriculum materials (if not using digital curriculum)
  • iPads or clipboard for check-in and check-out
  • Toys & books (age appropriate)
  • Carpet squares (age appropriate)
  • Large paper pads for morning message

Make sure to store all supplies in bins and label everythingThis will make set-up and tear-down as easy as possible for your church plant team, and will help to prevent burnout and alleviate stress.

Process and program

A smooth check-in and check-out system

Check-in and check-out processes can vary significantly based on the size and stage of growth your church plant is in. If you use a church management software, many churches find it beneficial to tie-in your check-in/out system with your software. Planning Center and Realm are good options, depending on your needs.

For check-in technology, KidCheck offers a church plant discount, which can help keep your budget in check. Be sure to see what other equipment you may need to supplement your technology, like tablets and label makers.

If you're excited about leveraging technology, tools like Planning Center have settings that allow you to conduct check-in and check-out digitally. No labels, stickers, or clipboards necessary. Or, you could pre-print your tags before service. This can save you some strife lugging equipment to and from your temporary church home.

Of course, when you're just getting started, it may make sense to go the analog route for check-in. In that case, you'll need a clipboard, label maker, check-in and check-out sheet, and a way to report attendance back to the church team. This can be a simple option in a pinch, but it may not be the most effective when your church plant is ready to scale or transition to a permanent location.

For your check-in set up, remember: keep it simple. For a church plant in a temporary space, try a 6-foot folding table, a couple of folding chairs, and a few smiling faces to man the station. Safety and simplicity are of the utmost importance at this stage.

Selecting curriculum

Thankfully, there are many reputable curriculum resources for you to choose from. This is great news, but it certainly can be overwhelming. Consider how you'd like to teach your curriculum: digitally or with physical books? Also consider how many children you'll be serving, and what your projections are for the year ahead, to make a cost-effective choice.

For a church plant in a temporary location, you may find it more efficient to opt for a digital curriculum, rather than carting books, pens, and paper. Check out our top curriculum picks here. Some brands even offer a special discount for church plants growing their Kid's Ministry.

Crafts and activities

Crafts and activities are an engaging, hands-on way to share the gospel with your little disciples—plus, they're a ton of fun. The bad news? They can create a mess, which can be challenging when you have to quickly clean up.

This Children's Ministry ideas list includes bible-based games and activities by age group that don't make a mess, like prayer journaling and worship dance parties. No matter which crafts or activities you select, be sure to include all necessary supplies (and instructions!) in your set-up checklist.

Mobilizing Kid's Ministry volunteers

Recruiting volunteers

Once you have your supplies, equipment, and curriculum lined up, it's time to build the team you need to serve your church plant's Kid's Ministry.

As a growing church, this task may seem even more challenging than normal. This church volunteer recruitment guide has several ideas to help. For church plants, we recommend voicing your volunteer need through word-of-mouth and other channels like email newsletters, showing gratitude for volunteers, and making sure hardworking volunteers get a break while you're in hyper-growth mode.

Preventing burnout

When you're starting out as a church plant, you probably have a tight-knit, small group of people working hard day in and day out. What a blessing! These folks tend to wear many hats—like scheduling, setting up, tearing down, and even serving on various ministries. This can lead to their plates filling up quite quickly.

One of the best things you can do to support these key members is to help them avoid burnout. Consider creating a Volunteer of the Month program and showcasing it in your email newsletter. Find wasy to show appreciation for members of your team, whether they're on staff or volunteers. You have a lot on your plate while growing your church, but by creating intentional time in to say thank you and celebrate wins, you'll build a team that's with your church for the long haul.

Booking back-up child care

Once you've taken preventative steps to help your church plant team avoid burnout, it's time to asses how they're doing. Showing gratitude is important, but it's not always enough. Many church plants find it valuable to book extra hands to support the growing needs of their church.

Platforms like SitterTree were specifically designed with church child care in mind. On the app, you can find, book, and pay experienced, background-checked child care providers for your Kid's Ministry and nursery. Churches love that you can create consistency with repeat sitters and get last-minute call-outs covered. Plus, SitterTree offers a special discount for church plants.

Booking child care might feel a little odd the first time you do it, but most churches report 5-star experiences and continue to lean on these child care platforms when needed. Booking child care is a tangible, effective way to support your team in this accelerated growth phase and make sure everyone stays happy and motivated.

Now that you have a plan for developing and growing the Kid's Ministry in your church plant...

It's time to gather a team that can help support you as you bring these plans to life. If you're in search of extra hands to support your church plant's growth and development, create an account on SitterTree to connect with child care providers who meet your unique needs.

Plus, SitterTree is excited to offer new church plant users $20 off their first job.

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