As the summer gears up, my mind is drifting toward how I can make the most of the opportunities I will have to interact with children and their parents this summer! My calendar likely looks very similar to yours—Sunday School will look different in some ways from the normal school year programming, and we will have VBS starting in a few weeks. Many families are heading out on vacations here and there, and in years past I have done less at church in a sort of one-way “non-compete clause.” Last fall, I heard from many families that they missed chances to be with other families outside of Sunday worship, and I got to thinking that perhaps summer is a unique time in a family’s year where outreach and evangelism can happen in fun, different ways than could be done in other seasons.
Here are a few of the ideas we are working on at my church!
Vacation Bible School
I know, this is NOT a new idea! We are in full swing preparation mode here, but we have added in three intentional pieces to the week that we hope will build some family connection time in fun ways! First, we send home an emailed newsletter with the focus of the Bible story, the important notes for the next day or week, and some fun group shots of kids participating in VBS that day. These aren’t as much face photos, but more group or action shots from the day. Parents LOVE to see what their kiddos have been up to, and I plan to end with some question stems for parents to ask their kids in order to engage their hearts about what they are learning and experiencing about God and the church community. Second, we are hosting a family hangout night Thursday night of VBS. We want the kids to extend the relationships they are building with other kids and with the small-group volunteers, and we also want parents to get to know one another! Our church staff (pastors and non-lead VBS people) will grill hot dogs, our VBS music will be playing over the speakers, and we have hired a game truck for the kids to play in while they have fun with their families. Lastly, our VBS ends right before Father’s Day, and as we consider having kids back to sing and worship with us, we are adding on a fun Father-child (or MVP-child) activity to add to the morning. We will have an easy snack, a craft for adults and kids to do together, and games to play. Our hope is that VBS is a springboard for families of terrific summer memories!
Our community has several fun parks, and one Saturday morning this summer we will gather up bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and lawn games, and we'll host a free event for parents of two- to five-year-olds. We will ask our church volunteers and older high school students to be on hand and play with families, while our leaders will facilitate conversations with families and introduce them to one another! This is something we have done in the spring, and it was such a hit we wanted to incorporate that into our summer outreach!
Concerts in the Park
Lastly, our elementary and middle school families will be invited to come to our community’s Concerts in the Park. This event is free, and many agencies partner with the city to sell food, promote their business through giveaways, and enjoy a fun night of cover band music as a family! Our church will keep it simple with Otter Pops and conversation—we really want families to get to know and begin to do life together, even off the church property! One of our church’s goals is to partner with families throughout the lifespan, and by showing up at a great event they might already be going to, we are able to encourage more relaxed conversations than we might have at a home visit, or even in between services.
Visit our Sunday School site for more information on the new Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum.