With the first hint of crisp cool air, while most people are longing for hoodies and football, Children’s Pastors everywhere are gearing up for one of the busiest seasons of ministry. The Fall harvest can last from September through November, depending on where you live, so gathering ideas early becomes key. Below we look at some ideas for connecting with the families by hosting Fall Festival fun inside, and outside, the four walls of your church.
A Trip to the Pumpkin Farm
One way to serve families this time of year is with a trip to the local Pumpkin Farm. Although this isn’t the traditional activity of bringing families inside the church, it does offer some unique ways to connect with your families. While serving in children’s ministry, Children’s Pastors become a point of connection for the parents and caregivers. Because the families are placing their trust in you to care for their children, there is also a layer of trust that we are given to speak into their lives. That space offers opportunities to engage with the spiritual tone of the whole family. However, the time before and after services is often limited. A group trip to a place like a pumpkin farm allows time for deeper connection. It is so valuable to see how your families interact with each other and what their family dynamics are. It also offers you opportunities to create “teachable moments” through Biblical topics such as seeds, harvest, and patience. Showing parents how to integrate spiritual lessons into everyday activities becomes a valuable lesson that will help parents guide their children towards spiritual growth. Although formal events with gospel messages are important, our ministry can’t stop there. God calls us to not just make converts, but disciples.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 NIV
Part of discipleship is teaching parents how to disciple their kids throughout the week.
Pumpkin Painting Fun
Creativity and artistic expression are valuable ways to connect to the heart of a child. As children engage with both parts of their brain, art can help them lower their guard and soften their hearts. When that happens, it can be a great way to connect a gospel message to what’s in front of them. Regardless of how beautiful the pumpkin looks on the outside, the inside is full of a mess, until someone cleans it out. Our hearts are like that too, until we allow Jesus in to clean us up. This simple message can serve as a fun way to connect the image of the pumpkin to our own need to know Jesus. If individual pumpkins are not in the budget due to group size, a printout of a pumpkin can work, using one pumpkin as an example to show the kids. Often local farms or stores will donate less than perfect pumpkins to churches and organizations to help keep the cost of this activity low.
Trunk or Treat
The fall season can sometimes bring with it some hesitancy for churches to respond to Halloween, even with Fall Festivals. However, God has given us clear directions on how we are to handle the darkness in our world.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)
By offering Fall Festivals and community outreach events, it enables us to not only have some family-friendly fun but to also reach our communities with the hope of the gospel. The reality is that people will be out, engaging in Halloween activities, regardless if we are doing a Fall Festival or not. Why not take advantage of the missional opportunity we have to point them to Jesus? Adding a Trunk or Treat to your Fall Festival can be a great way to draw families from the community to your church. While they are there, they can experience the love and generosity of your church. One of the reasons Jesus was so attractive to those around Him was because of the way He loved people, even before they knew Him. We can share that same love, as we show people in our community the love that we have because of Jesus.
To make the event extra fun for the families of your church, prizes can be given for the best decorated trunks in various categories, creating an opportunity for families to work together.
If your Fall Festival does not fall on a trick or treat night, there is an extra opportunity for you to reach your community by offering a giveaway. This can be something the children make at the festival itself, or it can be something you send home with them to distribute in their neighborhoods. Church invite cards, branded merchandise, or even gospel-message-themed children’s CDs or download cards can be handed out to help families learn about your church. Some of the popular children’s ministry artists that you use in your classrooms likely have resources like this available. A budget-friendly option could include a heartfelt note written by the children. Never underestimate how God can use the words of His kids.
As we approach the fall season, let’s realize the opportunity we have to make an eternal impact with our children’s ministries. Beyond the fun, faith can translate into increasing your church’s impact both inside and outside the four walls.
Rachael Groll is a Missionary with Children of the Nations, taking the light of the gospel to children across the globe. You can keep up with her on her blog at Shehears.org
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