One of the most important things about any kids ministry I have been involved in is visitation. It's what will get you started, and keep you going. This mostly apply's to a kids outreach program, as we try to reach out to new people.
Going to talk to someone at their house can be very intimidating, after all, the most likely response is, "no thanks, I'm not interested." But I think I may have a solution. What we do is people always go visiting two by two. Never go alone. Next, one person is dressed in a big head costume or character costume. (Please see notes on Costumes and Characters Page.) I wouldn't recommend just an adult dressed up, with a little theatrical make up on. They're more likely to think you are a syco! By using a mascot type costume, it catches the interest of the people when you come to the door. It all of a sudden drops down most of their barriers. For example, a Disney World, most people probably wouldn't go up to a complete stranger and start chatting with them, but if "Mickey" was standing there, it would be quite acceptable to go give him a hug! The other atvantage of having someone dressed up in a costume is, you can use people who are shy! Know one can see who is in the costume. It takes away the many fears of "I don't know what to say", and "what if I know that person", "what will they think of me". It's a great way to begin to train new visitation people, and to use those very hyper teenagers for something good!
People can relate to a costume character fairly easily, not to mention kids love them! Kids peek out their livingroom window, then coming running to the door to shake "the elephant's" hand.
Once you have broken the ice a little, the person who is not dressed up can explain who they are, where they are from and why they are there. If it is your initial contact with the person, explain that their kids, or any kids they know, are invited to join them at this time....and place....for a kids program. Explain that there will be games, prizes, stories, and lots more fun!
Having a flyer in your hand would be helpful at this point. Most people will read the flyer, if you hand it to them in person, and explain what it's about. I have found that putting flyers in mailboxes has very little effect. By the way, make sure you flyer has all the basic information on it, "who, what, where, when" and some cartoony pictures! Pictures will catch their eye a lot faster than boring words.
The Second Visit
Once the kid comes to your program, you need to make sure they get a visit form someone in your program that week! You will know where they live from the information you collect when they register! I have found that if the person who is up front the most in the program goes to visit them, the kids recognizes who you are are where you are from a lot easier. In a few weeks, introduce the kid to "one of your friends" who will be their regular visitor.
Most of the time, the parent, or another adult is the one who answers the door. Introduce yourself, and where you are from. For the first few visits, I would probably bring my partner in a costume, to help ease the tension for the new family. (After all, you are still a stranger. They need to get to know you a bit.) Often kids come to the program, and the parent has no idea they are even going. This happens when friends bring friends. In some neighbourhoods kids just have to be home at a certain time, and what they do meanwhile is up to them.
On the second visit, the parent is given a "letter from the pastor". This is a very simple letter basically to say, "Thanks for letting your child come". "It was a pleasure to have them." That's it. Don't go into all the philosophys of your church right now. It will just confuse them. There is plenty of time for that later.
We ask the parent if the child is home, after all, we are here to see them too! If the child comes, greet them, chat for a few seconds, then give them a flyer that tells what will be happening next week at kids club. That's all there is to it!
Some Other Hints:
After a few weeks, the kids, and the parents will recognize who you are. Most of the time, they don't see any harm in you talking with their kids. If you are really lucky, the kids will look forward to seeing someone from the kids club. You will no longer need the second person in your visitation team to dress in a costume. The novelty will wear off after a few weeks, and you don't want to wear out a good idea! The character can come out again for special occasions.
Keep visiting the kids everyweek, or at least two times a month. This reminds kids about the program, and keeps reminding them.
Another goal of visitation is to get to know the parents and for them to get to know you. Parents will often want to chat with you, and if they ever have a problem, or a crisis in their life, they know where there is a church who cares!
Don't forget, we are trying to minister to adults too, not just kids.
Don't think this is a job for one person. It will take team effort. Some people can be involved in the kids program itself, and others involved in the visitation part. Young and old alike are quite capable!
Keep track of the kids on your list and when their birthday is. The week of their birthday, bring them a card from the kids club. It will make their day. If you have people in you church who's ministry is baking, bring the kid a birthday cake! That will really make their day. Another idea is to premake a bunch of cupcakes and put them in the freezer. When a kids birthday comes along, pull a cupcake out of the freezer, stick a candle on it, and bring it to them! It's not all that hard or time consuming!