Use these 4 amazing family ministry events to reach out to parents and equip them to be the primary faith influencers of their families.
1. Got Prayer?
This event helps make parents aware of their call to weave prayer into the fabric of their family’s everyday life.
Time: About three hours
You’ll need a large activity area, prayer resources parents can take home, a comfortable area for discussion, breakfast for your attendees, and various materials for the prayer stations. You’ll also need several volunteers to help families experience the stations.
Hosting the Event
We kick off this Saturday-morning event with a prayer of thanks led by our pastor and breakfast for everyone. Then we have kids move to one section of the room where they do crafts, activities, and games related to prayer.
While the kids are learning about prayer, we have a pastor from another church talk with parents about how and why to pray for their children. The pastor leads parents in experiential activities to help them learn about prayer and about the difference it makes in our lives. We give parents a chance to ask questions and also to experience a variety of prayers. Before the event, we collect prayer resources for parents, such as helpful articles (with reprint permission), samples of Christian parenting periodicals, our own tip sheet with appropriate Scriptures, and a booklet of ideas they can use. Parents are always interested and curious, and they willingly talk about their frustrations, fears, and joys when praying with their children.
For the second half of the event, we invite families to visit our developmentally appropriate prayer stations. Each station is for a specific age group and has instructions to guide the families’ prayer time. Here’s a sampling of our ideas.
Ages Birth to 2
We placed items on the floor toddlers could relate to, such as a large bandage, a photograph of a family, and a stuffed animal. We had parents use each item to prompt a prayer of thanks for things such as love, fixed boo-boos, family, and pets.
Ages 3 to 5
We created a “church” using cardboard boxes. Families crawled inside and wrote or drew their prayers on the walls of the cardboard box. Then the entire family discussed their prayers and closed by praying for each other.
Ages 6 to 9
We placed fire trucks and police cars on the floor. As kids played with the trucks, they said prayers for the special people who help protect us.
Ages 10 to 12
We set up a television playing nonstop news and placed newspapers on the floor. Kids and parents looked through the papers and chose a news item to pray about.
Overall, we had at least 10 stations. Families were welcome to visit as many as they liked.
This event has been a great success. It’s very moving to see moms, dads, and kids bowing together before God. Many parents tell us this event has helped ease their fears of praying with their children.
2. Memory Scavengers
Our ministry loves families, and our goal is to find unique ways to help them play together. This scavenger hunt idea is one of their favorites.
Time: This event works best when you meet for breakfast, distribute lists, and reconvene before lunch.
Before the event, you’ll need to create a Scripture-related scavenger list. You’ll also need to provide each family with a disposable camera and a Bible. Plan for a simple breakfast and lunch.
Hosting the Event
Depending on the size of your group, one family can form a team or you can create a team combining two families. Begin your scavenger challenge with a quick breakfast. Distribute a Bible and a disposable camera to each family, and then give them their scavenger list. Each item on the list should include a Scripture reference and an instruction, such as “Take a photo of the tallest person in your family standing next to a policeman.”
Other instructions might include, “Take a photograph of a 1977 penny in the city fountain,” or “Take a photo of the shortest person in your family asking a stranger what the capital of Peru is.” Each instruction should include a photograph as “proof.” Have families discuss the related Scriptures as they work to cross the next instruction off their list.
Families will need transportation (automobiles, bikes, in-line skates, or public transport) to achieve each instruction. The sillier the instruction, the better.
When families reconvene by your set time, have them all take a final photograph together. Then enjoy lunch as families compare their experiences.
Make this wacky scavenger hunt a fond memory by developing the photos, placing them in small albums with the instructions pasted below each photo, and distributing the albums to each family.
3. It’s Chili Here
Everyone loves Bingo, and almost everyone loves chili. Here’s an event your families will find delicious and delightful!
Time: About three hours
You’ll need a large activity area; access to a large kitchen; chili, cornbread, and salad supplies; Bingo supplies; and donated prizes from your community.
Before the event, contact your local businesses to see if they’ll donate prizes valued at $10 to $20 for your Bingo game. You’ll also need to borrow a Bingo kit (check with your local men’s and women’s clubs) and recruit a Bingo caller. Publicize the event in your community, and make a special point to invite the families in your church. (If you’d like to use the event as a fundraiser, sell tickets for $1 each and donate your proceeds to a shelter or charity.) Enlist the help of volunteers to make enough chili, cornbread, and salad to feed everyone.
Hosting the Event
Begin serving at 5 p.m., and start the Bingo game at 6. Play until all the prizes are claimed.
Use these ideas to keep your focus on families throughout the evening.
Cover the tables with butcher paper. Scatter crayons around the tables.
Place question cards on the tables that include a Scripture, a modern-day meaning, and thought-provoking questions.
Distribute helium-inflated balloons that contain a biblically based “challenge for tomorrow” on a strip of paper inside.
Play icebreaker games throughout the evening designed to help families get to know each other, such as “There’s something weird about Grandma” where kids must confess a quirky habit their grandmother has to another child.
Close the evening by inviting your pastor to pray for all the families in attendance and thanking God for time together.
4. Old World Family Festival
This unique festival idea can be adapted to fit any season, and it’s guaranteed to be one of the most memorable events your families attend.
Time: At least three hours
You’ll need access to your entire church building, plenty of decorating supplies, large cardboard boxes, costumes, props, and food.
Hosting the Event
Decorate for your Old World Family Festival by creating realistic-looking, Dickens-era cardboard storefronts for a variety of shops people can visit throughout your church building. Have your volunteers dress as shopkeepers, blacksmiths, innkeepers, bobbies (English policemen), and more.
As families arrive, have bobbies direct them to the village entrance. Inside the village have all the shops set up, costumed volunteers acting their parts, smells and scenes of the Old World, and loads of great activities and food.
Capture the essence of the Old World by emphasizing people’s faithfulness and facts about their religious practices and spiritual lives of the time.
Depending on the season, the Old World Festival can include a variety of activity stations. Here are ideas.
In winter set up a Christmas tree lot, a mock ice-skating pond (where kids use in-line skates or roller skates), and skits adapted from the Scrooge story. Offer a wintry backdrop or sleigh where families can have their photos taken.
Celebrate an Old World springtime by having families plant crops (seed window boxes), spin wool, and enjoy tea. Use your storefronts for photo backgrounds, or offer families the chance to dress in vintage clothing and pose for a memory-making snapshot.
In summer, offer fish ‘n’ chips snacks, play historical boardwalk games, and have families decorate their own maypoles. Offer a photo op for families in a field of flowers or against a backdrop of summer scenery.
During the autumn festival, have families take a hayride, sit by a bonfire, visit a candle-making shop, cook kettle corn, and watch or perform in outdoor skits.
St. Louis, Missouri
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