Kid's ministry is a huge mixed bag of tasks, responsibilities, hardships, and joys. Sometimes it can feel like a giant whirlwind that leaves you saying, "We aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto."
There are many days when I sit down and write out a list of the things that need to be done, and I run out of room on the paper! Calls to make, volunteer holes to fill, crafts and props to get ready, music to plan, training to prepare, background checks to run, and, and, AND...All of which need to to be done yesterday!
After making my list, I'm already tired. BUT...there is one thing I always make time for. It's one of the most important things I do for every man, woman, boy, and girl in our Kid's Ministry.
BIRTHDAY CARDS -- That's right, birthday cards!
"Why?" you ask. For several reasons:
I don't know a single kid that doesn't like getting mail -- especially on their birthday. They LOVE it! They love it because it's FOR them on a day that's important TO them.
With the number of kids in our ministry, I would never be able to personally attend events, games, or concerts for every child. That's why we have small group leaders. But as the Kid's Pastor, I wanted a way to connect personally with every kid, and the best way to do that is with a birthday card.
A birthday card says to a child, "I know you" and "You are important to me!" What better message to say to a child on their birthday!
In order to keep costs down, I send a 4x6 postcard instead of the traditional card and envelop. It cost around $0.35 to mail, and they are typically cheaper on sites like Amazon.
I personalize the postcards even further by designing address-sized lables with my Bitmoji™. If you aren't familiar with Bitmojis™, it's a cartoon image of yourself that you can design to look and dress like you (or better). You can then download your image with tons of different messages, including several birthday options. I always put one of these fun stickers on the card as my signature. Kids love it!
To make writing so many postcards easier, I generally have two different messages I write on the cards, with only a few variations:
Kids 8 & Under: Happy [#] Birthday! I hope you have a SUPER-FUN day!
Kids 9 & Up: Happy [#] Birthday! I hope you have an absolutely AWESOME day!4
The message is not as important as the card itself. So whatever you choose to write...SENDING the card is vital!
I don't know many adults who talk about their upcoming birthday, but it is just as important to send a card to your teen/adult volunteers as it is to your kids.
Volunteers in your ministry want to know that you care about them more than just on Sundays. They want to feel valued and cared for.
Again, with so many volunteers (more than 100) it's hard to have a personal touch on each person's life. However, sending birthday cards to my volunteers has been a great investment for our ministry. I get to send a personal note of thanks and gratitude to each volunteer on a day that (whether they admit it or not) is important to them. Don't get me wrong...this is not the only way we show our thanks to volunteers, but it is a much more personal way.
We go a little more traditional for our volunteers and send a card in an envelope. You can buy any kind you like, but I get them on Amazon in bulk. They are colorful on the outside and blank on the inside.
In addition to the card, we put a $5 gift card to Starbucks or other local coffee place. Now, you may be thinking, "Woah. Doesn't that get expensive!?" The answer is yes. But it's an expense that we put into our budget because of it's importance.
We do have a coffee shop in our church, and could just give them a card for a free drink there. However, we felt it was better to send a gift they could use anytime they wanted, and not just on Sunday, when they are volunteering for us. If you can't afford the $5 cards, send a birthday card anyway! It's more important for them to know you care and are thinking about them.
STAYING THE COURSE
On the days when my "to-do" list is overwhelming, it's easy to think that birthday cards aren't worth the time and effort I put into them. Because BELIEVE ME...it takes time! But when I start thinking that way, I try think about the impact I'm having:
I remember times kids have come up to me on Sundays, with giant smiles, and said, "Thank you!" or "How did you know how old I was!?"
I think of the parents of those kids, who tell me "thanks" for remembering THEIR kid.
I think of the volunteers who tell me, "I was so nice to get a card for my birthday for a change!" or "It came at just the right time and made my day!"
There are many important things I do for every man, woman, boy and girl in our ministry.
This is one of the most important and most rewarding!