The Holy Grail of parent (and kid) communication
"How do you do it?" That's what my wife said to me a few months ago while we were driving in the minivan. "Do what?" I said back. "Tune them out." In the back of the van, our 3 kids were causing their usual ruckus: "How much longer?" "Quit touching me!" "Can we get a slushy?" "It's a gift," I tell her like a zen master, unaware of the chaos behind me. In actuality, though, it's not just a gift. It's a skill that I've been honing with many years of practice. And it's not unique to me. Parents have been learning how to tune out noise probably since Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain. It's a survival skill. But we don't just use it on our kids. We use it on a lot of other "noise" too. Emails get ignored. Flyers land in the trash unread. Even text messages can slip through the crack. So how do you cut through the noise when you really want to be heard by parents and kids alike? There's one method that will get you just about 100% engagement: A card in the mail. It's so old-school that it's now becoming revolutionary. Personal cards that are sent in the mail are pretty much the holy grail of communication. Even the most cynical person loves getting a card in the mail. They can't be ignored and even after you've read them, it's almost impossible to throw them away without proudly displaying them for at least a week. I still have cards on my desk that I got 6 months ago. But you have to use them the right way. Obviously, you can't send a card every week to every parent telling them what their kid learned at church and how to continue the conversation at home. You should do that with a combination of social media, text messaging (which I wrote about here,) and a well designed take home sheet (which I wrote about here.)
So here's what you do instead:
Send a card to every new family that visits your church. This is a great way to slow down the revolving door of visitors coming through your KidMin. If you want to keep it simple, have a stack of greeting cards on hand, then write a personal note when a new kid visits and send it out that week. If you want to have more fun with it, though, try using a service like Send Out Cards. You can create a card that's customized to your KidMin and include a message written with your own digitally created handwriting. You could even take a fun picture of the visiting kid with you or their new friends at church and print it on the card. When the card is ready to go, they'll send it for you. This might be a good option for a bigger church because once you have created a template and a message, you can send a lot of cards quickly. Send a card on "special" occasions. Put a variety of different cards in each of your KidMin rooms. You might have some that say "Happy Birthday," or "Way to go!" or "I missed you." If you want to print your own, my friend Brittany created a bunch of KidMin postcards that you can download for free. You can find them here. Get your volunteers into the habit of writing one card to one kid each week at the end of service. When they're finished, they can leave the cards with you so that you can address and send them. Personal cards are too expensive and difficult to send to everyone all the time, but if you send them to the right people at the right time, they can have a HUGE impact on your KidMin!