I didn’t want to do this, not really. My selfish thoughts ran more along the lines simply being present and lending a helping hand once in a while, not to leading the entire program. I wasn’t looking to organize, I was looking to receive. (sigh) The Lord, on the other hand, had an entirely different plan.
Five years ago, the Lord pushed (and I do mean pushed) me into starting a Keepers at Home group. There were very few in our area and my girls had specific ideas about what they were looking for. With a lot of prayer and a great deal of planning, we started out. As it turns out, this is a great deal of fun! We’ve had such a blast and we’ve enjoyed so many special moments!
Since then, I’ve been asked several times how we did it. What helped us get things organized and what did we learn along the way? For those considering their own KOF group, perhaps some of these tips might come in handy:
Pray!: (Notice the exclamation point.) Our first step was to do a lot of praying. I wanted to make sure this really was God’s calling and not me jumping the gun. Any ministry which is taken on out of selfish gain or pride, is not of the Lord. Pray that He would give you direction, guide your steps, and make clear what He would have you to learn.
Define Your Purpose: Before you can really get down to brass tacks, you need to determine what you (and/or your child) want to get out of this group. Are you hoping to merely socialize or learn more specific skills? I would highly recommend picking a mission verse and statement to help you; this removes guess-work and makes it easier to share your goal with others who might like to join in.
Time Manage: Organizing a group is much easier when you have a predetermined time and date set in place. Decide how often you want to meet and how long you would like each meeting to last. This will help you plan out which activities are feasible or which might need several weeks worth of work. (Our group meets the first and third Tuesday of each month, from 3-5p.m.) Find out what works best for you (as you are going to have to lead and be present for each meeting) and then go with it!
Outline Activities: Now that you know which days you are meeting, write those down for the duration of your “year” and start plugging in activities you’d like to cover. You can use activities from a book, online inspiration, personal projects you wish to tackle, or even Pinterest. Our group attempts to cover one new subject each month, with a patch earned for each one. Don’t feel you need to move as quickly though! Do one per quarter or one per semester; whichever works best for your group or family.
“But all things should be done decently and in order.” – I Corinthians 14:40
Cash Flow: You have all your ideas tentatively set into place, now comes the practical portion of the planning. Do you plan to collect dues to cover expenses and how much will you need to cover all of the materials? Would you prefer each girl to bring her own materials instead and pay nothing? Honestly, the best method is to determine how much money will be needed on a monthly average and charge dues. You will not need to worry about girls forgetting materials or not being prepared. You can have everything ready to go and meetings run more smoothly. Take into account how much families can afford to pay, especially if they have multiple children. Is fifteen dollars per month too much? Is five too little to cover expenses? Go back over your outline and get a feel for the money flow. If you find some activities might be too costly, you might wish to switch to another or perhaps make it a long-term project, where finances can be stretched out over several months to accommodate it. Collect dues at the beginning of each month, this way the girls become familiar with the pattern.
Note: I would suggest your first month of meetings be on a social level, with no materials being needed. This allows you to build up a treasury, without having to “pay yourself back” right from the get-go. Your first month’s dues will fund your second month’s activities and so forth; no paying yourself back for money paid out-of-pocket!
Prep Work: Okay, one last time…. Go back over your outline and determine if any of these activities require too much prep time on your behalf. The purpose of this group is for the children to do the work; not you!! Don’t overwork yourself with prep, which can be time-consuming and take away from your own family time. If any of your activities require a great deal of prep time, consider making that one meeting in-and-of itself, with the girls doing all the prep. If that is not an option, wait until the girls are bigger to go with that activity; unless, of course, you are willing to spend hours getting materials ready to go. That is completely up to you!
Additional Activities: Hooray! You know what the purpose of this group is and you have your activity outline. Now, it is time to start putting in the finer details. Do you want to include a short devotion at the beginning of each meeting? If so, where do you plan to get your devotion and who will be giving it each week? Do you want to include a snack time? Who should provide snack and what type? If you plan to pass out awards/patches, at what time would that work into your routine and where do you plan to obtain those awards?
(As an example, our group meets from 3-5p.m. We start with ten minutes of free time, then have devotion for twenty minutes, do our activity for an hour, have snack for fifteen, clean up for ten, and then finish with awards/patches; closing in prayer. Our devotions are currently being given by myself, but we have had other mothers step up and teach as well. Snacks are provided by the girls; one girl signs up each week and brings a homemade dish which she prepared herself.)
Determine Involvement: One thing you need to take into account with any new group, is how much involvement you would like to receive. Determine how many children you will allow into the group before capping it off. Decide the age group which may participate. (I’ve had mothers of four-year olds who want to join ours, which is a bit too young.) Also, be firm about parental involvement. Is it an option for parents to leave or do they need to stay? If you are starting a group specifically for girls or boys, be clear about which gender of parent may attend the meeting with them.
Registration/Insurance: I would love to tell you that all will run smoothly with your group and all the parents will be actively involved; that, unfortunately, is not always the case. For your own safety, have a registration form for all participating kids. This form should not only have an emergency contact number, in case parents don’t stay, but an insurance release portion. In the event of emergency, you will not be held liable for anything which happens to other children. This might also be a good time to determine if any children have an allergy issue, like peanuts, which might need to be accommodated.
Be Flexible: No group runs smoothly from the get-go. Test out a few meetings with close friends and start to refine your routine. Don’t get discouraged if things are a little bumpy at first, work with the group and figure out what works best for you.
Keep in Touch: Groups work best when everyone stays informed and communication is open. Use emails to keep your group informed of upcoming meetings, materials they might need to bring (such as an apron), reminders of who is bringing snack, or other pertinent information. Your group will appreciate it and it will make your life that much easier.
Seek Permission: If you are planning on running this group through your church, this is the last step you ought to take. After all your organizing is accomplished, go talk with your pastor’s wife or whomever is in charge. It is always a good idea to keep your church informed of internal goings on, especially if you plan to invite other members of the body. This is a great opportunity for them to impart wisdom, offer assistance, and simply pray with you. If not, no worries then; you are free to get busy and have some fun!
Wow! Was that an eye-full or what? Who knew there was so much involved in organizing a KOF group?
Please keep in mind, all of this is completely optional. You can, and ought, to run your own group in the manner God leads. As I mentioned from the beginning; pray! Allow Christ to lead your group; with Him in charge, you can’t go wrong!
Okay, KOF leaders…. What helpful advice would you give to new groups, just starting out?
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live… Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good…..” – Titus 2:3-8