Trying New Ideas with your Kids Ministry

Margo White from Catalyst Church in Bentonville, AR, joins us to talk about innovative ways to make your Kids Ministry better.

Grant Glas
July 29, 2021
Kids Ministry Leadership

Tell me a bit about your church and what you do there

We're called Catalyst Church, and in science, a catalyst is a change agent. It's like the spark that ignites a change or a different way moving forward. And so we want to be a spark to, to people, into our community, just introducing them to Jesus and what it looks like to know him and walk in his love and share him with others. So that's catalyst church, and I'm the director of children's ministry. I have from birth as early as people want to give their kiddos to us all the way through sixth grade. And then I have a powerful partnership with our youth department just under that family ministry umbrella because we want to be really intentional with crossover events. So how do we hand sixth-graders off to youth so that they continue to be part of the church amid independence and a whole new environment and just all the changes that happen at that point in life?

Margo became the Director of Children’s Ministry for Catalyst in 2010

Give me an example of a crossover event 

We hop in a car with two of the youth pastors, and we go visit our kids that are graduating, and we brought them those yard signs that celebrate that their graduates that they've made it thus far. We also got them a brand new Bible with their name engraved on it to take into the youth group. You know, it's a big kid Bible. We brought in their favorite candy and took some time to be personal and intentional with them, where it was just them and their parents. And just kind of celebrate some of the memories about who, who they are, and what we've seen in them as they've grown up in children's ministry

Margo & team use several different types of events to bring the community together

At Playlister, we do tiny experiments to see if ideas work for our business.

When we do experiments, sometimes they're like, wow, that really worked well. Give me some examples of things that you've learned along the way, little experiments that you've tried at your kid's ministry that ended up working well.

My favorite one is we actually have a different spin on VBS. That VBS is a lot of work, you know, tons of prep goes into it, and you can't get around that. So, I wanted to throw VBS back up on the whiteboard and see how we re-imagine this in a way that is impactful for the kids, serves our families, and serves our leaders.

So what we do instead of VBS is our strategy is called Extreme Days. 

Using Orange Curriculum VBS, Margo and team created Extreme Days to make VBS last all summer.

And instead of it being an entire week of the summer, we take Tuesdays all summer long. So some benefits to this, by the way, our Tuesday program is nine to five. So it can function as a place for kids to go while mom and dad work or get a day off to themselves, which is great, right? As a parent, that's fantastic. The kids also have something to look forward to all summer long because we have an opportunity every Tuesday. And it let's say your family vacation happened to be on the same week as VBS with their traditional model. You may miss VBS that summer, but you would just miss one week of extreme days with us. Our leaders also love it because it is a very long day. Still, we have seven days to recover before we give the kids renewed energy and, uh, you know, best for that next week. And what we do during our day is we take care of all their meals, all their snacks, we teach them about Jesus. And then we have just a lot of fun, relational things that we do to help build relationships.

What have you found working with your Kids Ministry that didn't work as you progressed over the past six months?

I'm going to start with what stopped working. Initially, when we first shut down for COVID, we were doing many Zoom calls; we were with the kids to keep relationships and engagement. And we realized, you know, pretty soon into the process, especially when kids were doing school on Zoom, that kids got Zoomed out really fast. And so we took a step back from Zoom.

Playlister has been huge for us. All our Kids Ministry Curriculum it's literally all inside Playlister. So for me, what that looks like in my week-to-week life is that we have the same amount of in-person classes I prep for each week. Plus, we have two virtual courses that we prepare for each week. We provide an online curriculum through our website for early childhood. Then we have an older kids version that we market more to elementary and middle. One way that Playlister really served us well is it helps me get the message out to families. And that even dates back to a pre-COVID issue that was happening then that we just weren't really addressing it. 

Catalyst uses Playlister to connect to families

We recognize that there are ways to connect outside of Sunday mornings. And suppose you can't be here on Sundays. In that case, I absolutely want to make things as easy as possible for you to disciple your kids and keep them up to date with what we're learning in the classroom, wherever you're at with Playlister. 

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