Easter Outreach: Searching for Jesus

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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 SafetyOne 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.

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