Guest Post by Jesse Joiner
On a Sunday morning when I was the Children’s Pastor at our church, two dads of kids in our children’s ministry bumped into each other in the foyer. Now, before I go on, let me say that at the time we were a medium sized church (about 450 people), so not everybody knew everybody else. But most “regular attenders” were familiar with one another.
“Who Are You?”
One of these two dads in the foyer had been regularly attending for over 5 years. The other, for at least a year. When they bumped into one another, they had never met before. I witnessed this interaction as they introduced themselves to each other for the first time. The 5-year guy even made the mistake of saying, “are you new here?” Then the 1-year guy had to say, “no, we’ve been coming for about a year now.”
I explained this predicament to my wife in the car ride home that afternoon and we brainstormed together about it. We decided there needed to be some way to connect families with one another. Parents need the friendship and support of other parents who are going through the similar life challenge of raising kids. But they can’t start that relationship if they don’t know one another.
So we came up with something called “Family Connect.” It is just a one-night event, so it is not designed to answer all the issues that parents need. It is simply an “entry-level” event to help families connect, have fun, and get to know one another. The goal is that relationships are fostered and will continue to grow further so families can minister to one another.
It went off as a super hit with our families. We expected 75 people and about 125 showed up (out of a church of 450). And the format was simple:
- We threw the party on a Friday night from 6:30pm-8:30pm.
- Families with kids from birth through 18 were invited.
- The event was completely free to all who attended.
- The party snacks were freshly popped popcorn (in one of those carnival machines), drinks, and ice cream sundaes (yes, we sugared them up).
- We organized an evening of DJ music and large group games led by a team of high-energy college-age kids (blue team versus red team). Not everyone had to participate in the group games, but you at least had to cheer on your team!
- We had giveaways throughout the night (I got a stack of free coupons from a local self-serve yogurt shop that wanted to support our Family Connect Night).
- We simply called it “Family Connect.”
Everyone spoke highly about the event and it seemed to do really well at helping people laugh, connect, and have fun together. Oh, and those two dads and their families know each other now….
Try it at your church in your family / children’s ministry department and let me know how it goes!