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"Travel Checklist: Last Minute Items to Check before Launching Club this Fall”

When my family and I go on vacation or long road trip, we make a “travel checklist.” We don’t pull out of the garage and hit the road until everything on this list is seen, located and checked off, because there is nothing worse than getting part way through a trip and realizing that something was missed or forgotten.

After reading “The Road Best Traveled,” you may know what your church is doing this fall to serve your kids and how you’re going to do it. You can’t wait to start your Awana clubs and make resilient disciples! We’re excited for you, but before you start on your journey and take the route God has called you to travel, here is a checklist to make sure you have everything you need before launching club this fall.

1) Leaders and Volunteers

As you look toward your start date, it’s important to make sure you have all the leaders you need, and that they know what is required of them. With the bumps and detours of Covid-19, it is important to consider how these detours might change the number of volunteers you need as well as the tasks and responsibilities they might have. For example, if you are running an in-person/socially distanced ministry, you may need extra volunteers to sanitize and clean, or you might need to add these responsibilities to specific leaders who are able and willing. If you are running a virtual ministry, you will need to verify that your teachers have the equipment needed to stream and record lessons and are up to the task of going virtual. If you are adopting an at-home model for ministry, then maybe the leaders you have will change to a more supporting or encouraging role for parents. Whatever road your ministry takes, reevaluating the number of leaders needed and the changes that might come to their roles are important to check off your list.

2) Resources and Training

Once you have checked the number of leaders needed and their responsibilities, the next items you need to check are resources and training. After all, if your ministry is going virtual, then it is important to confirm whether your leaders have the equipment needed and if they know how to use it. If your church’s ministry is meeting in person, then verification of supplies is crucial. Are masks being required? If so, do you have enough and are they readily available? Do you have guidelines in place to ensure kids stay socially distanced? Do you have the space and equipment needed to run safe, socially-distanced games? For those who are having parents use Awana at home, do the parents have everything they need to work through the curriculum comfortably? Do they need leader guides? Do they need videos sent to them from “Awana Plus?” As you talk with your leaders and parents, make sure they have the resources and training needed to minister to their kids effectively.

3) Communications and Schedules

Once you verify the leaders needed and the training required, the next boxes to check off your list are communication and schedules. Church members and parents need to be made aware of the changes happening in your ministry through clear and consistent communication. If you are going virtual, let kids and parents know ahead of time which apps or online platforms will be used and the steps you are taking to ensure their security. If you are going in-person, put up signs and clearly communicate what procedures and guidelines will be in place to keep kids safe and healthy. If you are taking your ministry to the home, then consistently check in with parents/guardians to make sure they feel equipped and encouraged. Call, text or email them frequently to keep them motivated and inspired.

Perhaps your game plan is short term. Many of you may start virtually in the fall, then move to in-person ministry at the beginning of the following year. Some of you might be delaying your usual start time by a few weeks or even a month, while others of you are stretching the ministry year out to compensate for changes. Whatever variations you might have to your schedule, be sure to get it down on paper, post it online and get the word out. Some of you may need to add more space in your budget for mailing and advertising than needed in previous years. Others of you may need to ask for longer commitments from leaders, or rotate leaders in and out to adjust for longer/altered schedules. Consider the needs and changes, and communicate them well.

4) Prayer and Grace

As you get to the bottom of your check list, you may feel overwhelmed. You might worry about your leaders’ abilities to adapt and groan at the extra time and energy required for the coming journey. Before you pull out of the garage and get on the road of ministry this fall, take your hands off the wheel and pray to the One who is in control. You don’t have to travel on this journey alone. God not only knows the variables on the road and the detours that lie ahead, but He also knows your heart and cares about you deeply. Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your Faith, is the true navigator that will lead your ministry where it needs to go. In the stresses of checking off our lists and getting on the road, it can be easy to forget the One who alone can bring our ministries to their destinations. In the busyness of ministry, prayer is often the box most overlooked, yet it is the box that needs to be checked the most. Without it, we can lose heart, get lost and run out of gas. Prayer is the fuel that keeps our ministries vibrant and trusting. Prayer should run through every turn of ministry. For leaders. For parents. For clubbers. For you.

Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your Faith, is the true navigator that will lead your ministry where it needs to go.

As you prayerfully begin your ministry journey, remind yourself of God’s grace. He knows the road is difficult and the trek is long. He has grace for you, and if the God of the world has grace for you and your leaders, then you can have grace for your ministry and for yourself as well. During this season of pandemic, things won’t go perfectly, and that’s ok. The success of your journey won’t be defined by how many times you slowed down or got turned around. It will be defined by your faithfulness and resiliency to lead your kids to their destination. When you keep this in mind, then you are set to check off your list and begin your journey. Happy travels!

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