Author Archive for Jenni Carter

The Work (Involve the Guest in Group Ministry)

Nothing makes someone feel more a part of a group than being involved in shared experiences.  Ministering to others should be part of your group’s mission, but a great byproduct is helping a guest feel more connected.  Make sure the guest is aware of opportunities to serve and all the details.  Have a member offer to drive the guest to the ministry location or offer to meet them at a specific spot.

Ask staff members what needs there may be in the church.  Your group could organize, restock, and refurbish a Children’s Resource Room or other Children’s Space.  You could help with Senior Adult Ministry or offer child-care for a Young Adult Event.  Have your members make cards that can be used in multiple ministries.

Look outside the church for ways to minister as well. Is there a local food bank where you could go to help pack boxes or an Assisted Living Home where you could go to sing hymns, play games, or just sit and talk with the residents?  Find homeless shelters and offer to minister or talk with a local high school and offer to work the concession stand so that parents can watch their own children play at athletic events.  Offer to build wheel-chair ramps to those who may suddenly need them.

Simply gathering items to be given to a ministry doesn’t help a guest be a part of a shared experience so be sure you’re truly ministering and not just “gathering” items so that someone else can minister. Use the ministry as an opportunity to have gospel conversations with those you encounter.

Jenni Carter is a State Missionary at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

An Untapped Field: Enroll VBS Families in Sunday School

vbsWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Every year at VBS there are lots of children and families that aren’t members of your church, but once VBS is over, they are no longer there.

WHAT TO DO? Try these ideas:

  1. Educate adult classes before VBS that one of the main purposes is to connect families to the church. Ask classes to make sure they are at the Family Celebration to connect with families.
  2. Implement a plan to connect the new families with those who would be in their class.   Look for common interests in the children to help them connect.
  3. Provide packets for church members pick up and take to prospective families.  The packets should include information about Sunday School and other ministries provided by the church.
  4. Have one of the child’s VBS leaders team up with an adult leader to deliver a craft or picture the child made.  This will help the family feel more comfortable as they see the familiar face and ease them into the invitation to the Sunday School class.
  5. Plan to have a new class begin the Sunday after VBS.  If parents know that they will not be the only “newcomers” to a class they may feel more comfortable joining.  This class could begin with a Parenting Class.
  6. Invite the families to class and to special events such as a Back-to-School Bash or Fall Festival sponsored by the church or by the Sunday School class.
  7. As members contact families, they may discover needs and be able to help meet those needs.  This will help draw the family to the church as they realize the church cares about them.

The Three Best Things to Improve Your Preschool Classroom


When a new young family visits your church, one of the first areas they notice is the Preschool Classroom.  What does the class say to these guests – Cluttered and Neglected or Clean and Inviting?


1 – Declutter!  Declutter!  Declutter!  Every Preschool leader knows we need a lot of “stuff” to teach.  However, we don’t need it all at once.  The only things that need to be out or on the walls are those that relate to the lesson that day.  Take some time to clean up and make use of your Resource Room to put away items that you don’t use each week.

2 – Use color wisely.  Paint the walls a neutral color and consider having one focal wall painted a jewel tone.  You might also consider painting the door frame the same color as the focal wall to give some visual interest in the hall.  Too much color can lead to hyperactivity, too little color may make the area seem too institutional or uninviting.

3 – Have a happy, smiling face greeting families at the Preschool classroom door.  The Preschool teacher sets the tone for the class.  The teacher should be calm, smiling, and consistent.  Preschoolers and their parents need to know that the Preschool leaders will be in the classroom waiting for the child.  The leader needs to be on time, consistent, prepared, and ready to lead the session.


Jenni Carter serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and is a Kids Groups and Faith Development Consultant.  Visit their website at for more information and other resources.  You can also connect with Mrs. Carter at  Jenni’s email address is


Discovering Preschool and Children’s Class Leaders


As a Children’s Ministry Leader, do you find that your best friends start avoiding you and people begin to suddenly duck into classrooms when they see you walking down the hall?  You may be guilty of asking the same people to lead Preschool and Children’s classes year after year.


One of the best places to discover new leaders is at VBS.  Look for VBS leaders that plan and prepare, enjoy what they’re doing, and lead great sessions.  Also look at those who serve on a monthly rotation during your Extended Teaching Care or Kids Worship Hours.  There may be someone who would be willing to begin serving on a weekly basis.  Always watch for individuals that have a natural rapport with children and that children are drawn to be around.  You can pair these people with some of your best teachers so that they can be mentored while they serve together.  Make a point to get away from the Children’s Area occasionally so that you can get to know people who aren’t already serving there.  Become acquainted with parents of the children, but also consider grandparents, singles, or married couples who don’t have children.  Always pray that God will guide you to those He is calling to serve in Children’s Ministry.

Begin casting a vision for Children’s Ministry through testimonies, videos, and pictures.  Individuals don’t want to simply fill a time slot, but they are more drawn to make a difference in a child’s life.  Always remember to follow the church’s plan for safety by running background checks and other safety measures when enlisting leaders.


Jenni Carter is a state missionary specializing in childhood ministries at the Georgia Baptist Convention

What To Do With The Kids…

youth_smlOne of the advantages to Sunday morning groups that meet at the church building is that Preschool and Children’s age-graded Sunday School are offered at the same time.  For churches that choose to have groups in homes there are many options to consider for “what to do with the kids.”

Option 1 – Classes for children can be offered at the church building.  Parents drop off their kids at the building and then go to the home where their small group meets.  This option works well when all the small groups meet on the same evening and are in close proximity to the church.

Option 2 – Each family arranges their own child-care at their home while they go to small group.  Many churches reimburse families for this expense.  One of the advantages for this option is that families can choose their own “sitter” and the kids stay in their normal evening and bedtime routines.

Option 3 – A small group hires “sitters” to keep their children at the same home where the small group meets but in another room (think basement or playroom).

Option 4 – Members of the small group rotate and take turns taking care of the children each week.  One of the advantages to options 3 & 4 is that the children are onsite in case the parents are needed.

Option 5 – Small groups work together so that members of one group take care of kids from another small group and then they swap roles later in the week.  One of the advantages of this option is that there is no cost involved, just extra coordination between groups.

There are several other thoughts to remember when planning “what to do with the kids.”

1 – Remember that it’s not just young adult groups that may need these services as many grandparents are raising their grandchildren in their homes.  Therefore, they may need child-care.

2 – Remember to use safe and secure practices when considering children’s activities.  Whether or not children are at the church building, churches and small groups need to adhere to the two-adult rule, background checks, and other security measures the church has adopted in their Safety and Security Policies.

3 – Remember to make the children’s time an intentional part of the overall programming.  Rather than having just sitters or child-care, let it be an intentional time of Bible study or discipleship for the kids as well as the adults.  There are several different Children’s Bible Study plans that could be used.  For older children there are great bible skills activities the kids would enjoy.  At the very least families can download Bible study apps on their electronic devices so that the children can learn or build on what they have already learned.  When churches are intentional to meet the needs of the children through quality Bible study while the parents are meeting more families will be attracted to the small group.

One final thought – look around your community to find unchurched families.  It may be an ethnic group, a subdivision, an apartment complex, or mobile home area.  Why not start a Backyard Kids Club that meets once a week?  As you attract the children you may find the nucleus for a new Adult Small Group.

Whatever choice you make for the kids – be sure you are intentional in making sure their needs are met and that you are reaching out to your community.

Jenni Carter is a state Sunday School/Small Group missionary for the Georgia Baptist Convention, specializing in children’s ministry.