Our CM programs are age-based

Your Question:

“Our children go to age or grade-based areas.  We would like to shift to a large-group format.  How can we make the transition from grade-based programming to a large group format?”

The Issues:

Traditionally, CM programs have been established with age-based classrooms. Smaller churches would group several ages or grades together if they didn’t have enough CM team members to divide the children into more specific groups. In the last few years, it has become more challenging to recruit new CM volunteers.  Because of this, many churches are shifting from the age-based groupings to large-group programs.  Large-group programs can be operated with fewer CM team members.  The issue is that developing relationships with and among the children is more challenging in large-group programs.

Scripture Foundation:

“Then Jesus directed them to have the people sit in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, Jesus spoke a blessing and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to set before the people. And He divided the two fish among them all…and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. And there were five thousand men who had eaten the loaves.”  Mark 6: 39-43

Short Answer:

Shifting from age-based groups to large groups is a significant step.  Before you do this, you must prayerfully consider all the “ripples” that this decision might cause.  A CM change is like throwing a stone into a lake.  As a CM leader, you must consider the effects of the ripples that come from the initial “splash” of the change. These “ripples,” if ignored, can lead to significant challenges for a long time. When planning to shift from age-based to large group program settings, you must discuss the possible “ripples” with your supervising pastor and the CM leaders long before you announce your plans.  Make sure the senior pastor is in favor with the change.  You must consider the safety of children first; then, you can consider the procedure changes.  All of these considerations must be connected to the CM team.  How will the change effect the CM team?  If you must shift CM team members around to make the change, how and when will those shifts be made? Since you’ll be combining several age-based rooms into one large one, the check-in process will also be affected.  How will you accomplish those changes?  How and when will you communicate the shift to the parents?  How will you answer the questions from the parents?  How will you support the shift in light of the CM vision?  You must advertise the launch date well in advance of the changes (at least 2 months ahead). Also, communicate the plans and launch date with the church ushers and security personnel so they know how to respond to parent questions.  In a large group program, you should plan for small-group interaction at some point in the program.  These small groups will satisfy the need to develop relationships between the CM leaders and the children themselves. The shift from age-based to large group will also affect your worship or audio-visual needs.  In a large group setting, you should have a time of worship. Who will conduct that time?  You could use video-based worship songs if you don’t have worship leaders.  In large group settings, you should also consider the “ripple” of needing to show videos or amplify the sound from the “stage.”  It would be good for you to do a “dry run” or “mental walk-through” long before the shift happens.  This mental exercise will identify more “ripples” that need attention. For more help, click on the links below.

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