The ABCs (and 123s!) of Planning a Fall Festival

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Planning a Fall Festival can be a major undertaking — but it
doesn’t have to be! Here are ideas to help make planning your Fall Festival simple and fun.

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Choose a director. It makes sense to have
one go-to person for the event. Be sure to choose someone
who can delegate tasks and lead a team. The director is responsible
for:

  • managing the budget (talk with your church leaders about money
    that’s available from an outreach budget and/or children’s
    ministries.),
  • asking for donations (have church members donate candy or
    supplies),
  • leading in recruitment, and
  • collecting supplies.

Form a leadership team. The director won’t be
acting alone. You’ll also need a leadership team for this event.
They’ll help with things such as:

  • Publicity — Let your church and community
    know your Fall Festival is coming, and that they’re invited.
  • Outreach — Prepare information about your
    church that you can give to visitors at the Fall Festival.
  • Creating Booths & Games — Brainstorm,
    create, and build the games for the event.
  • Follow-up — Make contact with the visitors
    who attended your Fall Festival. Be sure to invite them back to
    your church. And be sure to make them feel welcome when they
    do come back!
  • Evaluation — Once the event is over, come
    together with the leadership team and take careful notes on what
    went well and what to avoid next year.

As you plan your event, involve your leaders and volunteers in
the decision-making and brainstorming process. By asking the
leaders for feedback, ideas, and suggestions from the start, you’re
encouraging them to offer their input throughout the planning of
the event, and making yourself more approachable to them. Leaders
need to know you’re interested in what they have to say and that
you support what they do. In addition, encouraging your leaders to
share their feedback with you and allowing them to act on their own
ideas, builds confidence in them as they reach out to the kids they
interact with at your event. By giving your leaders freedom and
flexibility, you’re equipping and motivating them to change kids’
lives through your Fall Festival.

Recruit volunteers. Recruiting volunteers may
not be as hard as you might think. It may sound basic, but if you
want volunteers, you have to ask. Asking is the missing step in
most volunteer recruitment efforts. Sometimes we’ll announce a
need, create posters or bulletin boards, and post sign-up sheets,
but we don’t look potential volunteers in the eye and say, “Will
you help?”

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If you settle for publicizing your event in the hope that
publicity will generate volunteers, you’re going to be
disappointed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll find that
most people are eager to roll up their sleeves and work together to
serve the community with a fun, outreach event.

You may also be surprised at how few volunteers you’ll
need for a Fall Festival event. Depending on the size of
your church, you may only need a few volunteers to pull off a truly
dynamic event. One church had 800 kids at their Fall Festival and
only had a team of four leaders and approximately 20 volunteers to
run the booths and activities — and they pulled it off!

When recruiting volunteers, be sure to involve parents in your
event wherever possible. Parents play a significant role in kids’
spiritual lives.

There are a variety of ways to involve parents in a Fall Festival event. They can:

  • lead a game or assist at a booth.
  • donate candy or supplies.
  • invite (and encourage) families in their neighborhood
    to attend.
  • dress up in costume and be a greeter.
  • help during registration.

Remind volunteers what an honor it is to work for God. As
volunteers and leaders, you may be teaching and guiding kids, but
you’re also serving the Lord. You’ve been given an opportunity to
serve God in a special way. You’ll show kids who Jesus really is
and encourage them to follow him.

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Draw families from your community to an amazing fall fest event
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Focus on outreach. Reaching out to the
community and helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus
is what a Fall Festival is all about! And the benefits
are twofold. First, members of the church are blessed as they love
others and serve the community. Second, the members of the
community are blessed as they encounter Jesus in and through your
volunteers.

We want to equip and motivate children to reach out to others.
When kids share their Christian faith with others, they’re not only
strengthening their own faith, but they’re spreading the Good News
about Jesus to those who haven’t heard.

The most effective way to reach unchurched kids is by
encouraging your church kids to invite their unchurched friends to
your Fall Festival event. But keep in mind that
unchurched kids may not be attracted to the idea of a “Christian
program,” so be sure to emphasize the fun of your event — the
games, crafts, candy, and friendships!

Choose a theme. Be creative. Your theme can be
as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be, but be sure it’s
exciting for kids. Whatever theme you choose, you can build your
decorations and games around that theme. If you choose a beach
theme, decorate with beach umbrellas, sunglasses, and sand. If you
choose a Western theme, decorate with hay bales, wagon wheels, and
ropes. But be sure no matter what theme you choose you make clear
connections to God’s love throughout your event. Kids need to know
that Jesus loves them and wants to be their friend. You’re main
focus should be to bring kids and their families closer to
Jesus.

Also, keep in mind that kids from the community will
wear costumes that may or may not be in line with your theme — and
that’s OK! Encourage everyone to attend and share God’s love with
each person at your event. After all, that’s why you’re there.

Stretch your budget. If you’re worried about
pulling off a Fall Festival event on a tight budget, find
ways to cut costs or raise money. Consider the following ideas:

  • Ask parents to donate a bag of candy.
  • Ask for donations of supplies. (Be sure to let your church know
    what specific materials you’ll need to pull off this event.)
  • Charge a per-child registration fee. Consider offering
    discounts to families with more than one child.
  • Have church members sponsor a game booth by contributing or
    paying for specific supplies for that booth.
  • Have a carwash, bake sale, or other fundraising event.
    (Emphasize that the money raised will help reach out to kids and
    families in your community.)

Planning made easy. Group’s Slime Time, a new Fall Festival event, was built with all of
these things in mind. You’ll find Director and leader guides,
budget forms, publicity and outreach tools, game ideas, supply
lists, follow-up ideas, recruitment help, and a timeless theme –
all at your fingertips!

Slime Time is designed as a family outreach
event that emphasizes fun, discovering Jesus, and building
community. It plants Bible truths in kids’ hearts and minds in ways
that stick. Check out the thrilling adventure awaiting families at
http://outreach.group.com/fall-festivals.
It’s an unbeatable outreach event for the community, kids, and
their families.

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You’ll love these easy-to-pull-off outreach events with big
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laugh, play games, and hear about God’s love. And the proven
follow-up plans get families excited to come back!

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