My daughter's a cheerleader so I regularly attend local high
school sporting events. The crosstown rivalry football game is
always well-attended by the community and, as usual, I was present
in the stands. Just before kickoff, two boys from our church sat by
me, still excited about the recent corn maze trip they'd attended
with our preteen group. Before long, a small group of 4th and 5th
graders gathered to chat about school, the football game, and our
next event at church. Aside from the two boys, the kids' faces were
new to me, but all were intrigued that our church's next preteen
event was laser tag.
I ran to my car to grab flyers and invited the kids to join us.
And I made a mental note: Bring children's ministry info to
The game resulted in a win for my daughter's high school -- and
for our ministry. Two weeks later those preteens attended our laser
tag event. The following week they brought their parents to our
family worship service. Several of the families are now active
Making connections with people is what Jesus modeled -- he met
people where they were in life, he provided for their needs, and he
gave a living example of unconditional love. Your children's
ministry can also make connections with kids and families in your
community with these outreach opportunities.
By providing reputable services and programs in a safe and
friendly environment, you can reach out to families looking for
quality, family-friendly programs.
- Sports Leagues -- Many parents want athletic
opportunities for their children that'll also teach them good
sportsmanship and character values. So form sports teams that
compete in local competitions, and recruit quality coaches who
teach character along with athletic skills. Or host sports camps
and clinics for kids with local Christian high school and college
athletes providing instruction in skills and sportsmanship.
- Community Education Classes -- Parents want
help with parenting skills and financial management classes.
Parents also want classes they can attend with their child, such as
art or music. Offer interest-based children's classes, such as
knitting or weird science. Use class time to introduce a simple
faith concept that ties into the skill or topic instruction.
- Parents Night Out -- Finding a good sitter can
be tough for parents. So offer a fun and safe environment for kids
while their parents enjoy an evening out. Reach out to families
that have children with special needs by providing a respite
- Special Interest Groups -- Invite interested
children in and out of your church to join a children's musical
theater group that performs in your community. Offer field trips
and encourage your kids to invite friends. Sponsor discounts to
sporting events and local attractions to encourage church families
to invite friends to attend at a group rate.
Holidays and special events provide a unique opportunity for
your community to connect with your ministry. Celebrate festive
occasions with these community-friendly ideas.
- Traditional Christian Holidays -- Often the
only place to participate in holiday traditions associated with
Christmas and Easter is at church. Attract your community to your
church at Christmas time with a Main Street Christmas event,
including a live nativity, family-oriented Christmas crafts, and
strolling carolers. At Easter, open your church lawn to a community
egg hunt with invitations to your Easter morning church
- Holiday Alternatives -- Parents today are
concerned about kids on holidays such as Halloween. So invite
families to your church for a Halloween alternative program
complete with games, food, and giveaways. Check out Heroes
Unmasked an easy, ready-to-go Halloween Alternative with an
outreach emphasis. For Valentine's Day, offer a family sweetheart
experience such as a dinner and dance for girls and father figures.
On Independence Day, open your church property for families to view
fireworks, or offer a free shuttle from your parking lot to your
- The Party's Here -- Build a reputation in your
community as the "go-to" place for family fun. Sponsor
family-oriented concerts that are affordable and communicate
Christian values. Plan events -- such as pool parties, barbeques,
or skate nights at a local rink -- that make it easy for church
families to invite other families in your community.
Go outside your comfort zone to meet people in your community
where they're at. Making these connections tells others that you're
living your mission and you care about your community.
- Kids Clubs -- Send teams into local schools to
offer an after-school club program. Offer specialized clubs such as
ceramics or model cars, or have volunteers provide homework help
and snacks two days a week.
- Be a Volunteer -- Schools are often in the
same predicament as the church -- they rely heavily on volunteers
to get the job done. So volunteer to tutor, read to children, help
at field day, or cover as a lunch monitor. Kids in your ministry
will recognize you and you'll get to know your local school's staff
- Open the Door -- Many community clubs and
groups need a meeting place. If your Sunday school rooms sit vacant
during the week, offer the use of your facility free of charge.
Scouting programs, family support groups, and music teachers giving
group lessons all need a place to meet. Providing a room is a great
way to invite the community into your church to see what your
- Model Families -- Give back to your community
by providing opportunities for families to serve together. Involve
families in Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 28, by
cleaning up a local park or elderly resident's yard (for project
ideas in your area, go to www.usaweekend.com/diffday/index.html). Connect
church families with a needy family at Christmas by providing a
meal and gifts for the family. Or have families go caroling in
their neighborhoods with carts of hot cocoa for their
Carmen Kamrath is associate editor for Children's Ministry
Family to Family
The most powerful outreach tool in ministry is the personal
invitation. The top reason families visited our church is another
family invited them. And the invitation was usually to attend a
program or event outside of our regular church services. Help equip
your families to extend the welcome mat with these tips.
- Cast Vision -- Families need to know that you
value them as influential members of your community. Tell parents
the purpose of your outreach programs and events, and give them
examples of your target audience so they can think of families in
their neighborhood or social circle to invite.
- Advance Notice -- Advertise programs and
events that are community-focused well ahead. Provide families with
flyers or cards with the event, date, time, and phone number or Web
site for more information.
- Cheat Sheets -- Give families examples of how
to invite another family to an outreach opportunity. Conversation
starters and prompts can help nervous parents feel more confident
in a situation that may cause them to feel vulnerable.
- Give Perks -- Offer discounts on tickets to
families bringing another family for the first time, or host a
pre-event social with food or entertainment for families and their
- Share Celebrations -- Sometimes families
invite others and never hear whether their invitation bore fruit.
Send thank you notes to kids and families when a guest mentions
their friend invited them. Let families know if someone they
invited begins to attend church regularly. Families are motivated
to extend invitations when they hear success stories.
Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.