Making the Community Connection
Imagine that there is a door you must go through to enter the Kingdom of God. You enter that door. You move through the rooms. You find a group of people who are much like you. You feel safe, secure. As you become more engaged with the people in the room, you move further away from the door.
Very few people stand near the door to say “hello” to those who walk by, to listen to their stories, to invite them in. It’s difficult to stand at the door. You meet people who question your beliefs. You encounter much suffering—poverty, loneliness, abuse, despair. Yet, if no one stands at the door, who will invite these people into the kingdom?
Where does your children’s ministry stand? Are you standing at the door inviting children and their families to come into the kingdom? Or have you retreated into the inner rooms of ministry to churched kids only?
This issue of the Children’s Ministry Newsletter provides you with ideas for standing at the door. It gives you very practical ways of opening the door of the Kingdom to a community of families and kids who may have never been invited in.
IDEAS YOU CAN USE!
Get Into the Community
Take VBS on the road! Early in the year recruit families who are willing to host a VBS in their yard. Challenge each host family to recruit prayer support and begin praying NOW for the VBS to impact the community for Christ. Begin building teams to conduct these traveling VBS’s. Plan a simple VBS schedule that requires a minimum number of team players—songs, Scripture memorization, Bible lesson, Bible learning activities, and games. The host family will make sure all promotional materials reaches every family in the community, provide refreshments, and help with follow up.
CM in the Park!
Take your large group children’s worship service to a nearby park or parking lot. Advertise in the local newspaper, community flyers, radio, and ask church families to pass out brochures in their neighborhoods. Plan a great promotion that will appeal to kids and families such as free food, a special guest, and great giveaways.
Be sure to prepare each of the following aspects thoroughly—
- Prayer team
- Do everything BIG. Use full-body puppets; huge posters and banners.
- Go techno. Have Christian DVD’s kids love playing before the program begins and after it has ended. Use Powerpoint for rules, Scripture verses, words of songs, etc.
- Keep it moving. Be sure not to bore the kids. Keep segments as short as 3-5 minutes.
- Share a simple gospel message. Have volunteers ready to pass out a children’s salvation tract to every child. If the opportunity arises they might pray with a child or his family.
- Food and fun. After the program has ended have activities for the children and families to participate in—food, games, information tables. Encourage members of your congregation to move through the crowd getting to know children and their families.
- Follow up. To get contact information of kids and families who attend have a grand prize drawing. Follow up with a mailing (letter and brochure of your ministry) and phone call.
Here’s a great idea from a church that is reaching out to families and kids in an inner city. RBI (Return Baseball to the Inner City) is a free five-week baseball camp for boys and girls ages 8-13. Most participants are children from neighboring areas who would otherwise be left at home alone. An RBI day begins with a gathering and devotional, followed by organized sandlot baseball, and concludes with a lunch provided and delivered by church members. RBI is followed by Extra Innings Day Camp (EI) at the church for three weeks. EI days include Bible study, music, service projects, arts and crafts, and city-wide field trips.
UPWARDS is a sports program that can be hosted by an individual church or by a group of churches within a community. The program offers the following—
- Equal playing time with separate leagues for boys and girls
- One hour practice sessions
- Games each week of the season
- An evaluation process to provide equal opportunity for improvement
- A reversible Upward jersey and t-shirt
- Individual awards after each practice and game
- An end of the year award.
For more information check out our Resource Review at the end of this newsletter.
Clothes to Go!
Ask members and friends of your local church to bring in clean, gently used children’s clothing items as well as strollers, cribs, walkers, etc. You might also want to contact local clothing stores to donate end of the season items.
Recruit a team for set up, distribution, and clean up. The set up team will come on a scheduled day before the event to organize clothing and other items according to size, gender, and type. Tables should be labeled accordingly to make shopping quick and easy.
Members of the distribution team will greet customers, gather contact information and provide information about your children’s ministry. Others will help customers shop for needed items.
The clean up team will take unclaimed items to a local charity and return the room to its original set up.
Kids’ Yard Sale
Sponsor a yard sale that’s just for kids. Several weeks before the sale, have kids collect slightly used toys and gadgets they’d like to donate to the sale. Explain to kids that the toys they donate will be sold—not returned—and that they’ll donate the earnings to a worthy charity for kids. Take a vote to decide which charity or organization will receive the proceeds from the sale.
Begin publicizing the event at your church and around your community two weeks before the big day—and emphasize that the sale is for kids and by kids. Enlist several kid volunteers to help price items, with nothing over $1.
On the day of the sale, have kids rotate responsibilities—setting up, cashiering, welcoming, organizing, and cleaning up. Offer free lemonade, cookies, and information about your children’s ministry. After the sale, have kids count the money and congratulate them on their efforts. Choose a day when kids can collectively go to the local charity to present the money.
(Taken from Children’s Ministry Magazine, March-April, 2005)
What are some of the issues facing parents in your community? Provide support groups that meet those needs. Support groups usually meet weekly to share. An appropriate curriculum might be used or special guests might speak occasionally. Provide childcare for infants and toddlers and a planned program for preschool and school age children.
Ideas for support groups: parents and kids experiencing divorce; parents and kids who have just moved into the community; parents and kids with special needs (ADHD, autistic, handicapped); parents and kids who have a spouse in prison or in the military. Assess the needs of parents and kids in your community. Find a lead person who is passionate about meeting that need. Uncover resources to help you develop and lead that specific support group. Inform the community of the support groups being offered.
As a local church adopt a nearby elementary school. Provide volunteers to tutor at the school. Sponsor a project that will benefit the school such as donating books to the library, planting shrubs and flowers, or providing a piece of needed equipment. Bless the teachers occasionally with appreciation cards, needed supplies, or snacks for breaks.
As I drive by the elementary school in our community I notice on the school’s sign that this month’s character word is honesty. Schools throughout the nation are focusing on character and that is an open door for children’s ministry. Why not develop a fast-paced, action-packed children’s program that focuses on building character? Use puppets, music, games, illusions, and giveaways to grab your audience of kids. And soon schools around your community will be opening their doors to your children’s ministry team. At the close of the program invite the kids to come to your church and leave brochures in the office for interested parents.
Established in 1995, Upward Sports is the world’s largest Christian youth sports provider. Upward Sports is the only organization that offers the 360 Progression™, a uniquely designed total sports experience that adapts and expands as players grow in their personal athletic journeys. The 360 Progression develops total athletes mentally, athletically, spiritually, and socially – producing players who excel both on and off the field.
The mission of Upward Sports is to promote the discovery of Jesus through sports.
For more information, check out their website: http://www.upward.org
LifeWay VBS – Backyard Kids Club
Check out LifeWay VBS if you or your ministry is interested in hosting local backyard ministries within your community. LifeWay offers several different Backyard VBS kits at an affordable price of only $39.99 each. For more information, visit: https://vbs.lifeway.com/backyard-kids-club/
Originally printed as the Volume 9, Issue 12 of the CM Newsletter, December 2005, Contributing Editor: Kathy Creasy