A Ripe Harvest: Reaching Kids Through Outreach
On April 15, 1912, Baptist preacher John Harper died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean. Even in the midst of that serious situation, the amazing fact about this man was that he never stopped preaching the Gospel until he perished that cold night. He even offered his seat on the rescue boat, saying to someone else, “You need it more than I do.”
In today´s world, in these difficult times when evil and necessity are on the rise, Christians are feeling the urgency of the Gospel more than ever. We may feel very comfortable within the four walls of our church, with our “eternal life insurance” intact. But one thing is certain: it is not as easy as it used to be to get families to come to church and reach kids for Christ.
Let´s face it! Children are a unique group of individuals. So, meet Generation Alpha:
- They are born between 2010 and 2025
- They’ve been immersed in technology since birth
- They seek advice online
- They’re often addicted to the internet and video games
- They are concerned about current issues like global warming and saving the planet
- They tend to have few connections with others, but long for personal relationships
So, not only do children’s ministries have to step up to the arduous task of attracting these kids (with their short attention spans, confusion about their sexual identity, and fear of the future), but their parents often have shallow religious beliefs, as well as little or no connection to a local church. For that reason, it may be time to reach out to today´s generation with some alternative programs to Sunday school and children´s church.
What are some alternatives to traditional children´s ministry?
Kid´s Cell Groups/Clubs
During the summer months in your community, create a short-term club (no more than 3 months) in your home for unreached children. Hand out invitations to unsaved families in your neighborhood. Talk to their parents about the activities you plan to have. Keep the focus on fun, but make sure there is a Gospel message in all you do.
Offer a free community picnic, where you organize exciting kid´s water games in the summer or harvest games in the fall. With good publicity, it could be an innovative way to invite families to church.
Around the world, there are natural disasters happening with many children among the victims. In Ecuador, in April 2017, we experienced a 7.8 earthquake on the Richter scale that destroyed cities in less than a minute. That Christmas, we organized “Operation Teddy Bear” and were able to minister to 1,000 people in one event.
Kid´s Camp and Retreats
Let´s get kids away from technology with an outdoor adventure that they will never forget. The goal is to remove kids from non-Christian home situations and bad neighborhoods to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and transform their lives.
As an alternative to a Halloween Celebration, many churches opt to sponsor harvest parties in October with fun games and prizes. They encourage children to dress up in their favorite Biblical costume and receive candy in a safe environment.
In your neighborhood (in a non-church facility if possible), offer a free monthly Christian movie night with all the popcorn you can eat. Promote it online and by personal invitation to your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors. Invite them to receive the Lord at the end of the presentation or to another event in your church.
Foreign Missions Projects and Trips
Teach the children in your congregation the importance of winning the lost abroad. Involve them in a fund-raising project that will directly help missionaries to evangelize the unsaved. Also consider the possibility of organizing a mission trip for Christian families and their children.
-By Theri Santos, Child Evangelist and Trainer, Ecuador
Theri is the President of the New Generation International Foundation and has served as a missionary in Ecuador for 22 years. She is a sought-after speaker of Christian Education and author of more than 20 manuals for teachers.
Called to Begin an Outreach Ministry for Kids? Start here:
- Pray for the community. Ask God to open your eyes to unmet needs. Ask Him to bring awareness of ways these needs could be met so that the lost are won to Jesus Christ. “Prayer walk” around the area asking God to prepare the hearts of the children and families to receive the message of the Gospel.
- Share the vision for the outreach ministry with your pastor. Make sure that your pastor is supportive before launching any ministry. If he is not supportive, wait. Continue praying until you have the pastor’s support or until God shows you another strategy for outreach that is acceptable to him.
- Begin developing relationships with people in the community—merchants, teachers, police officers, and others who can help you better understand the needs of the community.
- Determine what need(s) the outreach ministry will address. Consider the resources available to you (team members’ interests and abilities, time available, finances, etc.). Make sure that you will be able to address the need(s) consistently and faithfully.
- Cooperate with existing outreach ministries. Perhaps there are already outreach ministries in the community addressing the same needs as you feel God wants you to address. Meet with their leadership and discuss ways you can partner together.
- After determining what need(s) your outreach ministry will address, go back to your pastor, leadership, and volunteers to inform them of the purpose(s) of the outreach ministry. Again, gather support before proceeding.
- Structure your outreach around this purpose. For example, if your purpose is to help children excel in school, your structure would probably include an after-school tutoring program.