FIRST-PERSON: An end-of-school party with a purpose
INDIANAPOLIS (BP) -- Hundreds of children at a school near your church are ready to celebrate summer vacation. What an opportunity! Plan a gigantic end-of-school party with an outreach purpose.
Invite the town with a huge outdoor sign. It might read:
"Free End of School Party for all Carmel students!
"High School Sand Volleyball Bash 7:30-9:30 p.m.
"Middle School Pizza Treasure Hunt 5-6:30 p.m.
"Elementary Kids Splash Party 2–3 p.m."
Create a Facebook invite, advertise in the local newspaper and print invitations for kids and teachers in your church to distribute.
Be creative with theme, snacks and decor. Make it as simple as "stop by for free ice cream after school" or as elaborate as a full-out summer carnival with inflatable games and water activities. It doesn't have to be long, but it should be upbeat and fun. Schedule the party on the last day of school, and make it specific to high schoolers, middle schoolers or elementary kids. Recruit plenty of adult volunteers to assure that every child is welcome, safe and happy.
Prepare a summer calendar of church activities for that age group. Include ongoing events such as Bible class, choir, drama team, Sunday worship service, church library hours, open gym times. List summer events, like Vacation Bible School, camp, all-church picnic, sports teams and family or youth mission trip. Other activities might include a family skate night, Olympic celebration or art day. Add the church website and phone/email contact information, and print the calendar on brightly colored paper. Attach a magnet for refrigerator hanging.
Here's the outreach element: Demonstrate Christian joy. Warmly invite those who don't have a church to come back for Sunday worship and other church activities. Be certain each person receives a calendar. Pray. Watch for opportunities to share Christ. Train student leaders to intentionally include newcomers. When parents arrive to retrieve their child, personally invite them to church.
As an alternative plan, your church could challenge parents of school-age children to host a party at their home for their child's class or grade, and provide the calendars so they can invite those quests to summer church activities.
Here's one extra idea: Before the high school party, ask church members if they need to employ students for the summer, and make a "summer jobs" display with applications or contact info.
Summertime's coming, and it's a great time to invite children to meet the Savior.
Diana Davis (www.keeponshining.com) is an author, speaker and wife of the North American Mission Board's vice president for the Midwest region, Steve Davis. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).