In your role as children ministries Coordinator, one of your tasks is to communicate regularly with ministry council members, your church board, parents, teachers and the children who attend your services and form your ministry.
A Children Ministries Coordinator’s job very often entails these communication tasks:
- create meeting agendas and chair meetings
- oversee the design and distribution of flyers and posters
- announce events
- send alerts to teachers
- parents and volunteers
- issue permission slips for children outings
- write Board proposals and schedules
- complete or review Sabbath School records
- source or prepare VBS and other ministry materials, and
- send numerous calls and text messages to parents and team members while coordinating other administrative activities
After months and years of regurgitating your communication messages using the tried and trusted tools in your communication tool box, it is likely they may start to lose their freshness and impact.
And truthfully, in many cases, the shine has long worn off of the overused church bulletins and announcements (now a cliché which church folks have been tuning out), and if your church has no office phone and you are using a mobile phone to make numerous calls, phone bills may also be drilling a hole in your pocket.
Retool, refurbish or reboot old tools
But these are only means I have and can afford, I hear you saying.
And you don’t have to stop using these methods. Why not refurbish your tool box?
Rework delivery styles and formats, so instead of, say, reading your announcement each week, you deliver the information as a powerpoint, game, Bible parody or drama presentation. Last Summer, for example, I used a mystery bag to promote my VBS.
What I am saying is at some stage (like now), you need to measure the effectiveness of your communication strategy and update your methods and channels to adapt to the needs of your present audience. Add some flair to the old methods and reboot.
Another approach is to simply search for and add new communication tools which require little effort and time investment and won’t drain you of personal cash.
In other words, as your children ministry population grows, you’ll be looking for not only effective but efficient ways to achieve your communication needs and bridge any gaps facing your ministry.
Some of my more tech-savvy and adventurous colleagues have been trying out new tactics like using social media — I see the evidence on your Facebook pages, group email, and the text messages. And what’s that latest app called that everyone’s been talking about? What’s app. (Let me pause to boast that the Sabbath School team at my church recently initiated a member accountability programme using the app a few weeks ago.)
Elsewhere, some children ministry leaders are also using Twitter and Pinterest, no doubt matching communication tools to the needs of their community.
Fact is, we live in a different age, a digital, visual, fast-paced one, and if we are going to connect with the people we lead, i.e. children and teens, children ministries leaders should seriously consider burying some of the the dinosaurian ways of communicating and finding new ways (new media) to engage and arrest the attention of this new breed of hyperactive, smart-phone toting, Face-book surfing, technology-literate digital citizens that sit before us from Sabbath to Sabbath.
Shocked that I’m referring to church kids that way? Well, my intention is not to broad-brush; it’s true that not all our kids are that obsessed, but a good proportion heavily use at least two of the new media tools and platforms mentioned before. Start observing your junior and earliteen class members. Certainly, you’ve seen the tablets, videogames and iPads making their appearance in your Sabbath school classroom and main church?
So, yes, our church kids have been baptised under the Web 2.0 surf of emerging communication technologies and are living the millennial lifestyle, whether we are ready for them or not.
Can we harness the technology for discipleship training? You bet we could, with a little bit of creativity and enterprise. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Or several ways, if you are prepared to look for them. A Google search of the latest education technology apps will turn up a whole slew of resources for children in the K-12 classrooms that can be adapted and harnessed for use in church ministries.
Many of them are platforms that are familiar to our kids, efficient and user-friendly for administrators, and accessible to most parents.
One such technology I want to share with you today is a text messaging tool which is being marketed to schools in the United States and elsewhere around the globe.
Communication statistics show that more than 90% of today’s student population own a mobile phone and use text messaging as a preferred activity. Lately a few technology developers have been leveraging this technology to create communication solutions in response to calls from school teachers and schools.
The tool I refer to is Remind. (https://www.remind.com/)
Generally, it’s a text messaging tool meant for schools, but I figured Sabbath School teachers, children ministry leaders and choir leaders can also use it to keep in touch about ministry activities; plus it’s safe and simple to use and totally free.
Here is some information to help you learn more about it.
1 million users
Used by nearly 1 million teachers at last check, Remind, previously known as Remind 101 is a one-way messaging app that enables teachers to connect with students and stay in touch with parents safely using text messaging. However, it’s functionality exceeds that of the regular text messaging system.
Here are the key features of the tool as highlighted by the website:
- All phone numbers are private.
- Students never see teachers phone numbers and teachers never see theirs.
- No 1:1 messaging. Parents don’t have to worry about teachers getting obnoxious with their children.
- Download your message history for administrative requests or audits
Simple. Signing up is simple and quick.
- Using any device, from Web to mobile, the company boasts that sign up takes only 15 seconds
- Once registration is complete you can start sharing instantly.
- Students and parents can join your class by email, web, or the mobile app.
- Available to teachers, students and parents at no cost
- Requires no classroom changes or committments
- You can sent a broadcast message to the entire class and get instant feedback using Stamps.
- Schedule ahead of time using the built-in calendar the tool affords.
- attach files, voice clips and photos to messages and send them directly to parents’ phones
How it works
Step 1. Visit Remind.com or download the mobile app on your iOs or Android device
- Register. Select your role: teacher or student
- Enter your full name, email address
- Create a password
Step 3: Once registered, add your class. The site says you can now register up to 20 classes.
- Mark whether there are any students under the age of 13
- Create a recognisable name for your class Eg. Miss Thompson’s Kindergarten or Salem Cornerstones
- Organize your class by subject level or audience group (students, parents or both).
- Invite students and parents to join your class by send them the unique code created for the class. You can do this by adding the email or phone number of each student or parent or sending download instructions. You can learn about additional ways at the website.
Step 4: From there start sharing your messages to build community and strengthen partnerships across the school community.
13 Cool Ways to use Remind in your classroom
So you’re all set up and ready to go. How are people using Remind? Using a couple of the site’s ideas shared by teachers in the field, I’ve modified the list to show how Bible teachers and children ministry leaders can use the tool to leverage their communication goals. Here are 13 ideas to get you started.
1. Send reminders to your older classes to study for an upcoming quiz at the start of Sabbath School class this weekend.
2. Raise your hand if you give your children home assignments. Maybe you ask them to read a chapter from a Bible source or Ellen G. White text referenced in the study guide, bring an object or illustration to represent the lesson, prepare a skit with other kids in the class or write a journal entry reflecting on the theme of the lesson? Help your students connect with God’s word during the course of the week with simple assignments. Use Remind to remind them of these homework deadlines in advance.
3. Keep parents updated on student’s performance and behaviour. After repeat offendors have overextended their three-warning limits, and there is no change, bring the matter to the parents’ attention. Don’t forget to use it to commend those who are doing well in your Sabbath School as well.
4. Remind parents of meetings and other upcoming events like Movie Night or Parents’ Night.
5. Use Remind to alert parents and students of any sudden change in your class or school calendar. Emergency meeting of the choir or change of date for a trip? Let parents know.
6. Attach permission slips and ask parents to sign and send back a printed form.
7. Send parents’ photographs of class trips, outreach outings, Children’s Sabbath, VBS and Thirteenth Sabbath recitals.
8. Use Remind’s Schedule ahead option to plan your lessons (if you teach a class), or the calendar of events for the entire quarter or year ahead of time.
9. Extend learning beyond the classroom by sending students’ preview questions on a topic you intend to teach in an upcoming Bible class or Sabbath School.
10. Send daily Bible trivia, Golden rules or a Scripture -a-day directly to students’ cell phones.
11. Attach PDFs, photos and other class files to your messages, view who has opened them and get instant feedback using the Stamps feature.
12. Use Voice Clips to send your class, students or colleagues personalised words of encouragement and motivation as a way to strengthen relationships. Wish them good luck for school meets and examinations or Church Bible Bee Championship and sports competitions. Choir leaders can also use Voice clips to send choir members clips of difficult song parts they are learning.. You’ll need to download the app to use voice clips, however. To learn how to record a voice clip, click this link for easy steps.
13. Remind is available in Spanish as well. If you live in a Spanish speaking country and are seeing this, test your students language comprehension and oral fluency with a voice message recorded in Spanish.
Teachers are also using the tool for professional development, training and team building. If you are a Children ministries leader, check out some ways here of how you can use the tool to reach out to your colleagues or staff.
Impact of Remind
Measuring the impact of the tool for classroom communication, Remind has cited data from the education field with teachers reporting significant changes in student engagement after they started using text messaging.
A Harvard study conducted with a Boston charter school in 2012 linked the following results after text messaging was added to the classroom communications at the school, notably a 40% increase in homework completion, 25% decrease in teacher redirection and a 15% increase in classroom participation.
In Remind‘s own field reports, the company cites data from teachers in K-12 classrooms who say they have observed a 50% increase in homework turn-in rates, and as much as 60% increase in parent involvement arising from the use of the Remind messaging tool.
They report that 1 in 5 teachers in the U.S. are now using the tool, with 90% of users being public school teachers.
Does this sound like a tool you could add to your ministry toolbox? Then go ahead and check it for yourself.
How do you see yourself using the Remind text messaging tool for children ministry? Make sure you share your reviews of the tool.