This month marks the fifth year I’ve been the lead MOPS coordinator at our local church! If you’re not familiar with MOPS, it’s an international organization for Mothers of Preschoolers (and younger). We meet together for friendship, support, and to hear a guest speaker. I’m excited to lead our group into the next year of MOPS, but as I reflect on the past five years, I realize I’ve learned a lot about being an effective coordinator.
1. Keep the main thing the main thing
When I first stepped into this role, my oldest was two and my youngest was just six months. I could have easily become overwhelmed looking at what all the other MOPS groups were doing: the decor, the crafts, the door prizes, the extra events. But the coordinator who came before me stressed the importance of the two main things: childcare, and coffee.
Because of the age of my kids, I had to keep things so simple that first year or two. I made sure we had childcare, and I made sure we had plenty of coffee on hand. I didn’t stress about coordinating sign ups for hot breakfasts, and I didn’t even bother planning crafts. My main job was to pave the way for moms to connect with each other. When I focused on keeping the main thing the main thing, every meeting was successful, even if we didn’t look like all the other MOPS groups.
2. Don’t take it personally
As my kids got older, I started adding more and more. First play dates, then Mom’s Night Out once a month, then a book club. Some events were well attended, and some fell flat. If only one other mom showed up at the restaurant for Mom’s Night Out, I didn’t take it personally. We just joked about our hot mom date and proceeded to have great one-on-one time! Instead of feeling bad that more moms couldn’t join us, I took the opportunity to invest in the mom that was there. Sometimes a smaller crowd is a blessing in disguise!
So take heart: if everyone bails on you at the last minute, resist the urge to cancel. The one mom that shows up may really need your listening ear!
3. The power of delegating
I have a tendency to do it all on my own. I have a vision for how something should be, and I convince myself I’m the only one who can handle it. It’s been a gift to realize that there are moms who are capable and willing to take over. We recently threw together a succulent planting party. I knew this was something I wanted to do, but I quickly started to drown in the details. Thankfully, a good friend took over the hardest part and provided all the succulents for us (for free!)
When moms are empowered to help, not only does it lighten my load, but it allows them to take ownership of the group and become more invested in its success.
4. Just ask
I’ve learned to be bold in my requests. I’ve asked older church members if they’d be willing to sponsor a MOPS mom and pay her yearly dues (quite a few said Yes!) I’ve asked businesses for donations and have been pleasantly surprised at their generosity. I’ve asked our host church for a bigger meeting space and another childcare room. We would have received none of these blessings had we not asked!
5. Communicate with Guest Speakers
Living in southern California, we have a wonderful pool of guest speakers to draw from. Every year, I end up booking two or three new-to-us speakers. Most do a great job, but some flop. I’ve learned that communicating with a new guest speaker beforehand is crucial to their success. Now, I make sure to let the speaker know about the unique make up of our group, and the purpose of our ministry. Even if the speaker has a great topic and lots of experience, her message may fall flat unless I share about our particular audience (ex: education level, marital status, number of church-goers, specific trauma/triggers.)
6. Listening is key
Every year, I survey the moms to find out what worked and what could work better. I ask for topic suggestions for our guest speakers. I ask about their childcare experience. I ask about their interest in meeting outside of our MOPS group. And then I keep those answers in mind when I’m planning for the following year!
The temptation is to keep doing what I’ve always done, because it has worked for me. But if I continued to do that, this group would turn into a little kingdom over which I got to reign as queen. It’s important to take the time at the end of each year to reflect, evaluate, and make changes as necessary.