Sometimes the best way to help people is to answer their questions with questions.
That is what I did when I was asked about planning a mid-week children’s program.
Basic questions that need to be asked are:
1) What is your purpose?
Notice I asked what your purpose “is” not what it should be. Be honest because your actions and attitudes will eventually betray or underscore what “is.”
If your purpose is no greater than having something to do with the children while adults are meeting, you will find little motivation to put much into a mid-week program. When babysitting or crowd control become objectives, even though it might not be communicated that way, it is easy to take an “anything will do” approach.
If, however, your purpose is truly to utilize all the opportunities you have to reach children for Jesus and to help disciple them to love and follow the Lord, you will be energized to make it the best you can with the resources you have.
Of course, the second “if” above is more in line with what your purpose should be. What can you do to work toward a more impacting purpose?
2) What structure will best accomplish that purpose and fit your situation?
Structure should be an outgrowth of your purpose and realistically guided by your resources … available teachers/workers, time, facilities, etc.
If you adapt a structure simply because it is a pre-fab plan and easy to use, you might be missing the mark on what God wants to do in and through you.
If you tailor a structure that best meets your needs, you will have more potential of lining up with God’s desires and intent to work in and through you.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use somebody else’s plan or structure. Nor does it mean that you must start from scratch and “reinvent the wheel.” What it does mean is that you will invest much prayer and objective assessment into it. If a pre-fab program best fits your purpose and resources, then that is what should be used. Or, perhaps you will need to take an existing program and make some tweaks. Maybe you will need to develop your own plan but if that is the case, then God will provide the person(s) equipped to do so.
3) What curriculum will fit the structure?
Often the pre-fab programs mentioned under the second question above come with the curriculum for you to use. I am listing this as a separate question, however, because too often we let the curriculum determine the structure.
If you let the curriculum determine the structure then you might find yourself frustrated as you try to make something work that doesn’t fit your resources.
If you let the structure determine the curriculum then you should be doing something that works for your situation.
A mid-week program should be a little more fun and fast-moving than a typical Sunday School or Children’s Church program. Some churches have used Sunday School or Children’s Church curriculum for their mid-week program but if not careful, it can feel too much like school for the kids which they have been in all day prior to going to church on Wednesday evening.
Some churches use curriculum from publishing companies that use a large/small group approach. You would need less high commitment – preparation teachers and more lower commitment - preparation small group leaders.
Some churches use VBS curriculum, using a lesson per week. Often these types of curriculum rotate children through a number of learning stations.
The question is: What type of curriculum will best fit your purpose, the structure that grows out of it, and works with your situation?
From there it is a matter of implementation — ordering materials, recruiting teachers and workers, training them, scheduling, organizing, etc.