The Ripple Effect

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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.

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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
upcoming games.

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
church members.

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.

Relevant Connections

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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
    night.
  • 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.

Festive Connections

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
    services.
  • 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
    community’s festivities.
  • 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.

Civic Connections

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
    and community.
  • 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
    ministry offers.
  • 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
    listeners.

Carmen Kamrath is associate editor for Children’s Ministry
Magazine.


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
    guests.
  • 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.

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