Family-Friendly Outreach Events for Fall
Fall is a wonderful time of year, as we embrace a new season and look to reach and connect with families in and around our churches. Here are a few practical ideas for you to use – no matter the size of your church – in the hope of reaching and welcoming new families with young children into your faith community:
Park Play Date
Families with kids are always looking to hit up a playground or park to burn off some energy. Consider setting a date with an active family – or more if you have them – with the intention of each inviting a new family to come. You might make some fun flyers, share in a pulpit announcement, post on social media, or even purchase a Facebook or Instagram ad (which costs between $20-$50). A great tool for making a flyer is canva.com, but there are many other websites that offer free tools like this. Once you’ve got leaders invested in the event, and develop a publicity/marketing plan, then consider buying popsicles or making homemade cookies to share with the families. Invite your pastor to drop by and share what their upcoming sermon(s) will be about and invite everyone to your Sunday kids’ program.
Bring Your Bike and a Buddy Sunday
Designate a Sunday for everyone to bring their bikes and invite friends. You might also make it a potluck or picnic after worship as well. Set up a fun course for kids to ride their bikes through and invite some church leaders who enjoy tinkering to create a “bike mechanics station” to check on the nuts and bolts, air up their tires, helmet checks, and more. You might reach out to your local fire station, as many are happy to appear with one of their trucks, or your local police, who may even be willing to talk to the kids about safe biking in their neighborhoods. Provide a way to capture their information and email a thank you for coming with an invitation to upcoming events and worship series.
Costume Parade Sunday
On the weekend before Halloween invite all your kids to wear their costumes to church for a parade before or after service. Parents are always hoping to get the most out of their kids’ costumes. Invite leaders to be a panel of judges the parade passes by and give out some fun prizes. Invite your pastor or church leaders to dress up too and join in the fun.
Trunk or Treat
Of course, you may already do this, but if you don’t, invite members of your church to come and decorate their trunks for some spooky fun the week of Halloween. Provide candy (either purchased or donated) for everyone to hand out to the kids as they parade through the trunk or treat line. Consider a contest for “best decorated trunk” and add fun activity stations like bobbing for apples, face painting, or more. Spread the word in your community with flyers, social media posts or ads, and even invite the local school principal to share about the event in their parent email. Give out candied apples or homemade cookies with info about your church or an upcoming worship series or Christmas event.
These are just a few ideas, and if you invite some parents and grandparents to get together on a Kids Events Planning Team, you will discover even more great ideas to put into action. Invite their input and investment of time into these and other events to engage families with young children. At each event or gathering offer information about the next event or gathering with an invitation to invite other families to come. Greet everyone with a smile and let them know your church loves kids and wants them to know the love of Jesus. Create clean and safe environments for them to experience the fun at your church. And if they are fun moments for kids, you can bet the child will be asking when they are going back to the fun church that had popsicles or a pastor willing to wear a funny costume. Next thing you know, they are telling their friends about the kids’ events at your church!
Jason Gant is a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church and leads Resurrection’s ministry with children and families across all of our locations, including online. You will often find him dreaming of new ways to do effective ministry…or way out on a mountain stream fly fishing! He is married to Scharme, and they have two teenage daughters.