Summer will be winding down soon and, before we know it, the back-to-school season and Fall will be here. This is the time of year that most churches start up a whole new curriculum and begin a more structured program in children’s ministry. Summertime is full of fun and family adventures, with quite possibly the least amount of church attendance. But as families come back from vacations and are looking for a bit more regularity in their lives again, it is great to be able to introduce what the plans for children’s ministry will be.
Now for a list of some exciting ways to kick off this new season!
Plan a Sunday at the end of Summer for a Family Service. There will be no children’s ministry classes that week, but this is a great opportunity to introduce what the ministry will be doing and any volunteer opportunities. The following are some ideas to try:
- Interview some of the kids over the summer (with parent permission) and create a video. Ask some open-ended questions like, “What do you like most about church?” or “What’s something you would change if you were the leader of this ministry?” etc. Play into the funnier answers and give the parents some entertainment to enjoy and laugh about.
- Do a big thank you song from the kids to the teachers/volunteers. Plan a practice and have them perform at the beginning of the service. Announce what needs you have and invite others to volunteer to help.
- Interview volunteers from last year on stage or ahead of time by video. Ask questions like, “What is your favorite part about serving?” and “What are some fun memories from last year?” Invite the congregation to help in children’s ministry.
- Ask the kids to stand and pray for their upcoming school year ahead. Introduce what the new program will be for the year by video, images, or even bringing some props up on stage!
- Prepare a funny skit to engage both the parents and the kids. Give some hints about what they can expect this year and some exciting events planned.
Host an event and invite the community to join!
- Have a free End of Summer Pool Party at a local pool. Provide drinks and snacks. This is a great way for kids to get to know one another and for parents to have a chance to meet other parents. Provide fliers at the party that invites everyone to the children’s ministry program for the Fall. Share your theme and any helpful links to church sign-ups etc.
- Host a Family Baseball Game at a local field. Involve all willing parents and children in the game. Provide hotdogs, drinks, and snacks. Play some fun songs like “Take me out to the Ball Game.” Invite families to your Sunday ministry and to the next family or kids event.
- Have an Apple Festival at the church. Ask volunteers to make apple treats like pies, fritters, caramel apples, and more. Provide games like bobbing for apples, a seed spitting contest, and an apple field hockey relay race (where you use an apple instead of a ball). Be creative and do as many “apple” things as you can think of, such as using red and green apples in a giant game of tic tac toe! Hand out fliers about the kid’s program at the event.
- Host a community outreach where the church collects school supplies for kids in need, used books for the local library, or the church goes out into the community to volunteer. When it is a church wide event you can spread out through most of the community and have a lot of opportunities for evangelism and invitations to visit the church.
Get your volunteers ready:
- Provide a “Thank you Ahead of Time” lunch and present a video of the new curriculum for the volunteers. Show them why you picked it and what exciting things they can look forward to teaching and helping out with this coming season. You can also invite those who are just checking things out and are possibly interested in helping.
- Invite volunteers to a fun Ropes Course Day! Ask a local camp to provide a program that involves practice in working as a team and trusting one another. Ask volunteers to pack their own lunch. If possible, treat your volunteers on the way home to an ice cream or Italian ice as a thank you.
Make a great impression on the first day of the Fall kickoff by:
- Go all out and decorate for the new curriculum or children’s program theme. Make it look like the kids are stepping into another world. Involve all of the volunteers so that everyone is dressed up and “in character”. Provide easy dress-up handouts for the kids to feel included such as hats, necklaces, plastic glasses, or whatever ties into your theme.
- Combine all of the elementary students and have a Kid’s Only Welcome Carnival for the first half of the service. Ask the volunteers to each prepare and run a game, fun craft, face painting, or more. Provide bags for kids to collect their small prizes in. Finish off the second half with a few large group games and end with a Bible Lesson and a few interactive kid’s worship music videos.
- Hand out goody bags for the kids to take home after the first day of the new program. Be sure to include a fun theme-related toy, a new memory verse, a treat, and a letter to the parents inviting their family back again. Provide a schedule of upcoming events as well as ways to get involved in the church on the back of the letter.
Involve parents on the first day. Especially for those new to the church, this will give them a chance to see what the children’s ministry is like and feel more comfortable dropping their kids off in future weeks. Below are a few more detailed descriptions of Fall Kickoffs you could try:
- Invite parents to attend for the first 30 minutes of the service. Provide a fun scavenger hunt for kids to do with their parents. Give fun clues and have volunteers around to give hints when necessary. Design the hunt so that not everyone is going to the same place at once, with clues in different orders. Help the children and parents become familiar with their surroundings by creating clues that lead them to classrooms and gathering places where kids will be on a regular Sunday. Be sure to make a final clue that leads everyone to the same place where there is a fun prize for the parent and their kid. Some ideas for prizes are matching parent/kid plastic sunglasses, matching bracelets, or a tasty treat for everyone.
- Begin by having parents sign their kids in and then invite them to watch their kids “RACE TO THE START KICKOFF” where their child will join in a fun backward race. The parents can cheer their kids on as they begin the race at the “Finish Line of Summer” and race to the “Start of the New School Year.” Clearly label the finish and start lines and add balloons and streamers for an exciting effect. Provide a chance for parents to take pictures of their kids at the “Start of the New School Year!” sign.
- Create a welcoming atmosphere with round tables and chairs, coffee, tea, cookies, and juice. Invited parents and kids to enjoy the treats and sit down and chat with one another. Do a short welcome and provide instructions on how pick-up and drop-off will work while kids are invited into a fun large group game. After the game, invite children to join the large group lesson and encourage parents to stay and observe as long as they would like or to go to the main service and pick their kids up at the end. Be sure to have the parents sign their children in before they leave.
Kicking off the Fall season in children’s ministry involves engaging the kids, making families feel welcome, recruiting and equipping volunteers, and being sure to send an invitation out to the community around you. As you look toward this upcoming season, picture yourself as a new child visiting or a new parent checking the ministry out. What would you look for? What would make you feel welcome and eager to join in? These 17 ideas are just a few examples of what your church could construct! Let your creativity flow and have a blast with it!