Easter Outreach: Searching for Jesus

0

This Easter, help families find more than just candy and plastic eggs hidden in the grass -- guide them toward the True Hope of the season with this outreach event.

Thousands of years ago people searched for the Savior, the promised Messiah. And every year Easter reveals the hopeful answer people sought then and still search for today.

You and I know the search begins and ends with Jesus. But for many who are searching, Easter is about bunnies, colored eggs, and baskets full of candy. How can you reach these families and help them discover the true hope of Easter?

Why not do it through the hearts--and tummies--of children? This Easter, make something old new again by reaching out to your community with an unforgettable Easter Egg Hunt that leaves people hungry for the message and hope of Easter.

Scout the Hunt

Location is everything, and the location you choose for your Easter Egg Hunt can make a significant difference in how many people attend. While hosting the event on your church property may be convenient and easy, consider a location that's more familiar to the community, such as a local school or sports park facility. A community setting is a neutral place to invite families who may feel uneasy or nervous about attending an event at a church they aren't familiar with. Obtain any necessary permits from your local government and be sure the location has access to water, electricity, restrooms, shade, and an area where it's okay to barbecue.

Prepare

Your Easter Egg Hunt offers great opportunities for people in your church and community to serve. Use these ideas for your outreach preparations.

• Ask for donations. Ask families in your church to donate plastic eggs and bags of individually wrapped candies for the hunt. Local businesses may be willing to donate these items if you make the request in writing on ministry letterhead.

Also contact local businesses to donate gifts for your egg hunt, from large items such as bikes or filled Easter baskets to smaller items to place inside plastic eggs, such as coupons for free ice cream cones or stickers. Place gift vouchers for bigger items in the eggs so kids who find them can turn them in. Acknowledge all businesses that donate with a big thank you sign at the event entrance.

• Create special giveaways. Create themed Easter baskets to give away, such as a Home Movie Night (filled with a family-friendly DVD, microwave popcorn, and boxed candy), Outdoor Fun (filled with bubble solution, sidewalk chalk, a jump rope, and balls), or Beach Bum (filled with sand toys, a kid-friendly beach towel, and water goggles).

• Ask for extra hands. Getting the eggs ready for the hunt is the most time-consuming aspect of the event, and you'll need extra hands to do it. Filling eggs takes time, so tap all of these resources.

Senior Centers-Ask local senior citizen centers or senior organizations to join in the egg-stuffing venture. Drop off the eggs to the center during the week before and designate a pickup time.

Preteens-Host a fun night for preteens early in the week before Easter Sunday. Serve a meal and have preteens eat together in small groups with a leader for each group. Talk about the importance of loyalty and friendship, and let preteens discuss why they think Jesus wanted to share a special meal with his closest friends before he died. After the meal, give preteens a chance to serve by helping with last-minute egg hunt preparations, such as filling eggs, making signs, or preparing crafts. Then encourage preteens to invite a friend who doesn't attend church to attend the egg hunt with them.

Moms Groups-Ask your church's moms groups to stuff eggs at their next meeting while they talk and learn. Consider providing an hour of activities for children following the meeting so moms can stay to pitch in.

Advertise and Enhance

These extras will make your egg hunt extraordinary--while giving families a direct link to Jesus.

• Give meaning. Go beyond the typical egg hunt by infusing your event with the message of Jesus--including the eggs themselves. Create slips of paper with brief messages on them to pack inside the eggs. Just print your messages, cut out the slips, and include them with candy: "Jesus loves you," "You're precious to God," "God gave his only son," "Jesus is risen!"

• Emphasize family. Offer (and publicize) a safe event with age-appropriate activities so the entire family can participate.

• Beat the bushes. Go beyond a simple ad in the newspaper with your marketing efforts. Distribute fliers at elementary schools, preschools, day care facilities, recreation centers, and coffee shops. (Check beforehand to see whether you need permission before distributing information at public institutions.)

• Promote special surprises. Publicize the special gifts that businesses have donated. This is a great way to get businesses to donate larger items such as bicycles, gift certificates, or sporting event tickets-it's free publicity for them.

• Offer play areas and added features. To add an extra dimension of fun to your event, rent large inflatables such as bounce houses and slides or a train for kids to ride. Spring is the perfect time to sponsor a petting zoo for your event, full of baby farm critters that delight children. (When adding extras such as these, check with city or park ordinances and obtain appropriate permits if necessary, and check with your insurance company to verify if you need a temporary addition to your liability policy.)

• Set up an art zone. Offer art stations where kids can create a variety of Easter and springtime crafts to take home.

• Feed the masses. Bring barbecue grills and serve free lunch. Hot dogs, chips, baked beans, cookies, and lemonade are relatively inexpensive--and they give families another good reason to stick around and get to know people from your church. You may find a local caterer willing to donate the food and serve the meal. Say a prayer before you begin serving, thanking God for the families present and asking his blessings on them. Have multiple food lines so families can move through quickly, and station volunteers who can offer a helping hand.

• Take a picture. Offer a photo opportunity for families by setting up a springtime photo station. Decorate the photo area with spring flowers, plants, Easter lilies, or live bunnies or lambs. Ask a photographer to volunteer services and take photos of families or children. Give participants a claim number and tell them their free photos will be available at your Easter services. For an added prompt, upload the photos into an Easter invitation template and email them to families as a reminder to attend your Easter services.

Egg Hunters Safety

One of the biggest parent complaints at Easter egg hunts is the lack of safety for kids-especially younger children. Make sure your egg hunt is age-appropriate and allows for every child to gather eggs safely with these tips.• Set up age-specific hunt areas. Establish age-specific areas for ages 0 to 2, 3 to 5, 6 to 9, and 10 and up using rope or orange cones to designate perimeters. Place plenty of eggs in each area to guarantee every hunter's success. Keep the area for toddlers separate from the others and free of obstacles that could hinder little ones' hunting success or cause injury. Assign a volunteer to act as the designated host for the toddler area, and station plenty of others in each age area to help keep kids safe. (Plan for a ratio of approximately two adults for every 14 children under age 3, and two adults for every 20 children age 4 and up.) Also, have your team wear matching T-shirts so they're easily identifiable.

• Use staggered starts. Use a PA system to communicate the rules before the hunt begins. Don't start every group at the same time; begin with the toddlers and move up the ladder. Staggered starts keep younger children from becoming overwhelmed by throngs of older kids, and they help control what can be perceived by parents as mass chaos when every child present makes a mad dash for the field.

The Search Party

Give your egg hunt your ministry's fingerprints by ensuring that everyone has a good time and that the families who've ventured out feel noticed and appreciated. Use these tips to make your egg hunt unforgettable.

• Start with a message. Before the hunt, use your PA system to share a one-to-two minute explanation of Easter and what Jesus' sacrifice means to each of us.

• Recruit volunteer bunnies. Assign volunteers wearing bunny ears to each age area, armed with baskets of extra eggs. Train these volunteers to look for kids who gather few or no eggs during the hunt. Your volunteer bunnies can give these kids eggs for their basket so every one has a great time. For extra impact, ask kids from your ministry to be on the lookout for children left empty-handed and encourage them to share their eggs with these children.

• Engage your guests. Have several hosts from your ministry trained to talk with families. Encourage these people to participate in one of the after-hunt activities and to invite the families they meet to do the same. People are much more likely to stay and participate in activities when they get a personal invitation--even if it's on the spot--and they'll get to experience firsthand that your church is friendly and caring.

• Bag it. As families leave your event, give them a bag filled with information about upcoming children's ministry programming and events, your family ministry and special needs ministry, Easter services, and a page of Easter-themed ideas for families to do at home.

Relay the RulesUse these basic rules to keep kids safe and happy at your event:• No taking other kids' eggs.

• Do not come into physical contact with any other child during the hunt. (Holding hands is the exception.)

• No fighting over eggs; the child who touches an egg first gets it.

Art Station Ideas

Use these craft ideas at your art stations. Assign a volunteer to each craft table to welcome families and to provide craft guidance and conversation. Kids can choose which fun crafts they'd like to make and take with them after the egg hunt.

Jeweled Cross

What you'll need: craft foam or card stock crosses, colorful craft jewels, glue, a hole punch, and ribbon.

Creation instructions: Let kids glue jewels on the cross to create a colorful, stained-glass look. Use a hole punch on the top of the cross and ribbon to create an Easter ornament kids can hang in a window at home or use as a bookmark. Give kids the option to create an extra cross to give away.

Baby Chicks

What you'll need: yellow pompoms, small google eyes, small orange felt triangles, glue, plastic Easter eggs, and craft foam circles.

Creation instructions: This is a great way for kids to recycle the plastic eggs they've just collected. Have kids use one-half of the plastic egg to glue two, stacked yellow pompoms into the egg half. Use glue to secure two google eyes and an orange felt beak on the top pompom. Glue the bottom of the plastic egg to the craft foam circle for easy display.

Little Lambs

What you'll need: white card stock, cotton swabs, scissors, glue, small wooden spring clothespins, and markers.

Creation instructions: Pre-cut large ovals (for the lamb's body) and small ovals (for the lamb's head) from the card stock. Also pre-cut the cotton swab heads, leaving ½-inch of the stick on the swab. Have kids glue cotton swabs to the body, starting at the back, then layering them until they reach the opposite side. Use two swabs to form ears on the head and markers to draw a face. Glue the head to the body and two clothespins to the back of the body to form legs.

Carmen Kamrath is the associate editor for Children's Ministry Magazine and has been a children's minister for more than 15 years.

Share.

About Author

Children's Ministry Magazine

Leave A Reply