Summer Outreach Ideas

Children’s pastors today have more resources than ever before to reach children who live in the shadows of the steeple. However, based on the stories I hear children’s pastors tell about their summer outreach, I get the feeling we are missing the mark by only reaching kids who are already attending another church.

There are 22.7 million[1] elementary children within the US. Certainly there are more children to reach than those who are already churched.

Since there is no shortage of “outreach” resources available at the local Christian bookstore, what’s missing? I’m glad you asked… It’s strategy.

Even the best outreach resources will fail at truly reaching the lost if a few key strategic questions are not answered.

 

  1. WHO do you want to reach?

If you want to do outreach, you need to know who you want to reach. Different events will attract different people. For instance, if you’re interested in attracting the local Muslim population, you’re best not hosting a pig roast. Just saying!

We are located in a university town, which means a huge percentage of our parent population is drooling at the thought of their 5 year old child one day receiving a sports scholarship…so in the past we have hosted a sports camp VBS and saw 350 kids attend.

Figure out WHO in your community you want to reach and decide where exactly those people are located. The more specific you are about who you want to reach, the more effective you can be at reaching them!

Keep in mind, that sometimes to reach the WHO in your strategy may mean you need to go to them instead of trying to get them to come to you.

 

  1. What are their NEEDS?

Once you identify your target, you need to get to know your target. Learn their population makeup, their routine, their likes, dislikes, wants and most importantly their NEEDS.

The greatest outreach you can do is one that meets a need. This past summer our church began a summer long kids feeding program in an especially under privileged part of town. Why? It was birthed out of a need. The local school has an extremely high percentage of kids on the free lunch program, so when summer hit the parents of those kids didn’t buy more food for their kids to eat lunch at home. Through that summer we would feed up to 60 kids a day.

By getting to know the people you want to reach, you can decipher what you can do to reach them effectively.

 

  1. What is being MISSED?

A good question to ask yourself in prayer is “What are the needs of kids in my community who are most overlooked?” Consider crafting a special outreach just for them. Find creative ways to show them the love of Jesus and build a relationship.

Sometimes I get the feeling that churches are in a bubble & are blinded to what is around them! It is important to understand what is already being offered for families when strategizing your summer outreach.

VBS is the most commonly used summer activity. While there is nothing wrong with a church doing a VBS, we often fall into a rut of doing the same activity each year simply because it’s known and easy.

I would challenge you to think about where the children are who truly need Jesus this summer and find ways to go to them, throw a party in their honor, and let them see just how much Jesus loves them.

 

  1. What comes NEXT?

If your outreach has been a success and children have made a profession of faith in Christ you will need to be ready for the next step — integration into your church family.

Don’t forget to think about what the child/family’s first service experience will be like. Will their outreach leader be there to greet them at the door? Will they need a ride? Who will go out of their way to ensure each and every child continues to feel special? What if they do not have a Bible, or a friend?

 

I could of written a blog full of ideas for you and your ministry, BUT without a strategy you won’t find your niche and you will never be truly effective at reaching the people your church are called to reach.

 

Now it’s your turn…what do you think? What have I missed? What has worked for you?

[1] http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/pop1.asp

BEING BEFORE DOING

I have been in America a month and already I have experienced so much. In a weeks time I will be in Indiana experiencing my my very first All American Thanksgiving. I’m sure it will prove to be a wonderful time but before it comes we have plenty to do!

Thanksgiving is a massive family celebration in America where food is at the center. Yet as I live in one of the most affluent nations of the World the sheer level of poverty continues to amaze me! In order to provide for the poorest area of our City, Stone Creek Church, set out to host a thanksgiving give away…The Big Give. We are aiming to provide thanksgiving meals for 1000 low income families; which would include a turkey and 1-2 bags of groceries.

Almost 800 families have signed up so far with a week to go and this past week I joined a team which hit the local estate to tell its known disabled residents that we would be personally delivering them groceries even though they hadn’t asked for them. People were so thankful and you could tell the small gesture would make a major difference to their holiday.

When we were signing up one woman she suddenly started to sob as she told us that it must have been God who brought us there at just that moment. She explained that her son had just visited and told her that his pregnant wife, who is 5 months gone, is facing complications over her pregnancy and considering abortion. She was devastated and shaken; and after a short chat we were able to pray for her.

I mention this to say that what Stone Creek Church is DOING is unbelievable but I am learning its easy to pass through life and just get caught up in the doing. But in life it’s important to focus on who your BEING not just what you DOING!

I was so focused on what I was DOING for God; that I almost forgot what I was meant to be BEING for God. I find that when we concentrate on BEING…we can’t help but be DOING! I love DOING social action; but I prefer to be DOING it as a product of my BEING! Otherwise you get so caught up in DOING that we miss the opportunities where we need to be BEING!