3 Reasons You Should Use Checklists & 2 New Ministry Guides

When I first started serving in children’s ministry at Sojourn, we’d put all of our training materials into manuals. We had a 40-page policy book that included our vision, general procedures, and safety policies. Then a young intern serving in the children’s ministry suggested that we transition our policy book into a series of checklists. Using checklists has had the advantage of making our training more individual and personal as well as more efficient. Now I’m excited to offer a couple of our best checklists as Sojourn Network field guides.

Here are 3 reasons to use a training checklist in addition to (or even in place of) a training manual:

  1. Simplicity.

    • An ideal checklist is one page with text on the front and back. If you are going to keep your checklist to that size, you have to state your policies and procedures simply. Checklist brevity means minimal explanation and digestible chunks. Instead of saying everything there is to say, checklists communicate the minimum and depend on the trainee's personal relationship with the trainer to fill in the gaps. This kind of simplicity encourages questions and interaction when training instead of information overload. In other words, it encourages engagement and true learning.

  2. Portability.

    • Before the checklists, our training was primarily event-based. We'd invite our entire Kids team into large training gatherings. We'd take time to print large booklets before the gatherings so we could work through all of our policies carefully. As our church grew, we found these kinds of trainings were ineffective. It's rare that everyone can come. So how can we ensure all volunteers have been trained on the policies? Enter the checklists. Checklists are easily printed, and they are highly portable. They've allowed our leadership team to add an individual and personal element to our training. I can quickly print a checklist, pull aside a new volunteer on Sunday, and walk through it before or after a service. A service coordinator or deacon can meet a new volunteer for coffee and work through the checklist. It's quick and easy.

  3. Accountability.

    • If you download the two checklists below, you’ll see a signature line at the bottom of the training. This is a place for both the trainer and trainee to sign off that training has been completed. Because the checklist is brief, the signed document doesn't take up much filing space. That is true whether you're using a filing cabinet or a digital file. One idea is to upload and attach a scanned copy of the completed training checklist to each volunteer's profile on your church management software. This service is available with both Fellowship One and Church Community Builder. Doing so allows your leadership team to see both that a volunteer has completed training and what version of the training they received (because policies are updated and change over time). It allows our leaders to track when a training update is needed on an individual basis. 

FREE Training Checklists!

You can also find these free resources on our downloads page.

General Policies and Procedures Checklist

This one covers the essential policies and procedures we want every volunteer who serves in children's ministry to be aware of. These are the most basic things that you don't want to leave out of your training: check-in and check-out procedures, food policies and allergy precautions, the two-person rule, sickness policy, a no photography rule, policies for diapering and toileting, and rules for cleanliness and sanitation. Here is the free sample checklist of general policies and procedures.

Keeping Kids Safe from Abuse and Neglect Checklist

We put this second checklist together several years ago with help from a social worker in our congregation and information I heard from Deepak Reju's presentation at the 2009 Children's Desiring God conference. Deepak has since updated our checklist and made it even better. It appears as one of the many really helpful appendices in his book, On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church (New Growth Press, 2014). I corresponded with Deepak, and he gave me permission to post the training checklist here. 

Please download these resources and use them free of charge in your children’s ministry. They have been tremendously helpful for us, and we pray they prove to be the same for you.

Jared Kennedy is the husband to Megan and the father of three girls—Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He leads SojournKids as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church—Midtown in Louisville, KY. He co-authored the PROOF Pirates: Finding the Treasure of God's Amazing Grace VBS (New Growth Press, 2015), and he serves as a Children's and Family Ministry Strategist for Sojourn Network. Jared blogs regularly at gospelcenteredfamily.com. You can follow him on Twitter @jaredskennedy.