10 inspired ideas to celebrate God, family, and fun this summer
Summer evenings are unbeatable — kids and families can’t get enough of being outside together, enjoying the smell of fresh-cut grass, an impromptu touch football game, or a leisurely walk through the neighborhood. So why not capture the fun for ministry moments?
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We asked children’s ministers to share their favorite, tried-and-true ideas for summer evening fun to come up with a list of 10 fabulous ways to celebrate God and each other on a warm summer evening.
1. Father’s Day Car Show Celebrate Father’s Day with an outrageously fun car show guaranteed to draw dads. Sponsor a car show that showcases antique, collectors’, quirky, and modern cars in your church parking lot. Promote the show throughout your church and auto clubs in your area. Have participants and guests vote for best in show and other honors, and award trophies. Consider selling snacks and beverages to raise money for your ministry. An event like this is sure to draw tons of curious visitors, lots of cars, and lots of fun.
2. Night Sky Insight Contact a local conservatory or college and invite astronomy experts to bring telescopes to your ministry. Ask experts to provide insight into the summer night-time sky. Rarely do kids get to see the stars through a telescope, so give families a chance to look for stars and planets, and talk about what they see. After a presentation about the sky, hand out plastic telescopes (available at craft and hobby stores), and let kids decorate them with permanent markers. Tie your night-time viewing to Genesis 22:17 (Abraham’s descendants are as numerous as the stars) or Philippians 2:15 (God wants us to shine like stars).
3. Luminary Worship Create an outdoor worship space by placing glow sticks inside glass or plastic jars. Arrange the jars in a large worship circle, and create a lit pathway from your church to the circle. Provide chairs or blankets for families, and when it’s totally dark, use this circle for a devotion, songs, worship, and skits. 4. C.A.P.E.R. (Caring About People Encourages a Response) Invite families to come to your church for an evening of mysterious adventures. Organize service-oriented adventures that allow your families to care for others, such as dressing as clowns and delivering balloons to a nursing home or doing yardwork for seniors. Simply ask families to choose an event once they arrive. Provide all needed supplies, disposable cameras for fun photo opportunities, and a coordinator for each event, and set families loose to serve others.
5. Vegetable Garden Visit Visit a church member’s or neighbor’s vegetable garden for an evening tour. Ask the gardener to introduce families to all the plants growing and talk about what it takes to care for the garden. Let kids walk around the garden and identify various vegetables, pick weeds, hoe a small section, and perhaps even pick a few ripe vegetables if it’s okay with the gardener. Provide a variety of fresh vegetables for families to wash, slice, and taste after the tour. Talk about all the amazing things about the plants God created, such as how seeds make new plants for vegetables the following year.
6. Make Your Own Ice Cream Let family members make single-serving portions of ice cream. Supply premixed ice cream ingredients, one quart-size and one gallon-size resealable plastic bags, duct tape, rock salt, ice, and toppings. Making the ice cream is easy: Pour a cup or two of liquid ice cream mix in each quart-size bag and double-seal it with duct tape. Put this bag inside the gallon-size bag and pack it with ice and a spoonful of rock salt. Seal the larger bag with duct tape, and then shake and squeeze the bags until the ice cream sets. Provide towels in case the bags get too cold to handle. When the ice cream is ready, say a prayer of thanks, share the toppings, and enjoy. Here’s the “speedy” ice cream recipe.
7. Meet and Greet Gather your families and tons of ice cream treats, and head for your local parks and sports fields. Have families deliver treats to sports spectators and people enjoying the evening at the park. As families distribute the treats, they can introduce themselves and casually share about your church.
8. Missionary Mission Celebrate your denomination’s missionary families with this event. Get information about missionary families. Create trading-card size pieces of card stock so each family will have five. Let families decorate cards with a missionary family’s photo, names, birthdays, and country of service on one side. On the other side, include prayer requests and other details. Have families select one card to keep and trade the others with other families. Families can use their cards to pray for the missionaries. Finish with a movie about a foreign land and snacks from that country.
9. Beach or Park Cleanup After the day’s heat dwindles, gear families with safety gloves and trash bags, then embark on a cleanup blitz of a local beach, recreation area, or park. Once the work is done, celebrate with s’mores and toasted marshmallows over a grill.
10. Bonfire Bonanza Get your town’s permission first for this community outreach event. For your final summer-fun spree, hold a bonfire in a gravel parking lot (not asphalt or concrete). Collect discarded lumber from builders or ask your congregation for scrap lumber. Invite your entire community for snacks, songs, and information about your church. Ask your senior pastor to open with a prayer for kids and families as they prepare to return to school. For safety, you’ll need to keep people at least 15 feet (possibly more, depending on your local fire department’s requirements) from the bonfire. Make sure you abide by any requirements for fire personnel (such as having a fire truck and firefighters present) and water access. A large trash container works well for cleanup because you’ll need to dispose of large quantities of ash and any unburnt lumber.
The following creative children’s ministers contributed their ideas to this article: Shelley Chappell of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Courtney Wilson of Rockford, Illinois; Mary Davis of Montrose, Iowa; Nancy Ferguson of Richmond, Virginia; Gerri Baker of Port Isabel, Texas; Lisa Leonard of New Providence, New Jersey; and Lisa Stadler of San Diego, California.