Group management is hands down one of the hardest parts of running a children’s ministry room. Here are three tips on managing your room well.
Empower Your Volunteers
I had a nightmare service. I was the room coordinator and, on this particular weekend, the large group communicator. I also had the perfect storm of kiddos. You know what I’m talking about. Three or four kids that are fantastic when they’re on their own, but when you throw them all together in the same service it’s a disaster. They were causing chaos throughout the entire service – and not a single volunteer did a thing about it. I had to interrupt the large group portion to send one kid to the back wall and separated the others throughout the room.
I was so frustrated with my volunteers for not handling the situation because it meant I had to break the flow of the lesson for all of the children that were engaged. But then I realized I had never really empowered them. I was the staff leader. I wielded the authority. I dealt with any and every problem. So, when we had unruly children, they looked to me to handle it – even when I was otherwise occupied.
The next week, our entire huddle time was devoted to group management. I told them that I needed their help. I told them they weren’t just small group leaders. They were leaders. From the beginning of the service to the end of the service. And I needed them to lead. I needed them to discipline. I needed them to go sit right next to or in-between the kiddos that were distracting everyone else from the lesson.
They were great. They just needed to feel like they could intervene, and I had apparently not given them that permission. Give your volunteers that permission!
Implement a Three Strike Rule
I had a three-strike rule – and I rehearsed it with the children in my room every service. We made it fun and light, so it never felt heavy-handed. But they knew the rules. They knew the consequences.
The first strike was just a warning. I was firm but not stern. It just let them know they were on my radar.
The second strike meant they sat against the back wall until I told them they could rejoin the large or small group.
The third strike meant I called their parents out of “big church.” I could count on one hand the number of times I actually had to do that – mostly because I went and talked with every child who got a second strike to make sure they understood why they were sitting against the back wall and communicated that if they continued their behavior, I’d have no choice but to call in their parents. They did not want that (neither did I) and, almost miraculously, their behavior improved for the rest of the service.
Give Them Responsibility
I had a little boy named Luke who ended up against the back wall almost every service. His parents were dedicated weekly volunteers in other ministries, so Luke was often in my room for two identical services in a row. He really was not a bad kid. I actually loved having Luke around. But by the second service he’d get restless and start causing trouble.
So, I started giving Luke jobs – even when he was in kindergarten. He’d help me reset for large group. He’d help me check all the small group bins. If we needed more supplies, I’d take him with me to get them and let him fill up the bins. If we had a new kid, I’d ask Luke to show them around. Luke and I became best buddies and his behavioral issues all but evaporated. He never lost his mischievousness, but I wasn’t trying to beat that out of him. I loved his fiery spirit. I just didn’t want him distracting the other children. And, over time, he didn’t.
If you have a child that you just can’t seem to contain, put them to work! Give them ownership. Don’t just make them feel like they’re making a difference – let them actually make a difference. If they’re invested, they’re far less likely to sabotage your service by being disruptive because they’ve been a part of making it happen.
Group management doesn’t need to be hard. There are simple ways to make it far easier. I hope these three tips feel doable! We’d love to hear your tops ways of handling group management so send us an email or leave a comment!