COST: Varies. $0.50–$1.00 per child served
DURATION: One-time or periodic
DIFFICULTY: Moderately easy
Randy is the first one to hear it. “The ice cream man is coming!” he yells for the world to hear. Kaylie, Andrew, Kevin, Rachel, and Randy go scrambling for the coins to purchase a frozen treat, wondering what their dollars will buy them.
As they gather around the ice cream truck, they don’t see any prices anywhere. Is he selling anything? They see the sign: “Free! One frozen pop or missile cone per child (ages 0-80).”
Free? Too good to be true. The ice cream man says, “I’m Bill. Here, have a kid’s pack each, too.” Each kid grabs a bag, discovering a small toy, a piece of gum, and a colorful flyer with some cool-looking cartoon kids on it. The header reads, “Discover Kids’ Church!”
Randy pipes in, “How come it’s free?”
Bill shoots back, “No catch! We’re into having fun at our church and want to get to know more kids. Tell your folks about us and ask if they’ll let you come to the Wednesday afternoon movie club.”
“Movie club?” Rachel asks. “What movies? When?”
Bill continues, “Lots of movies. This week, it’s Toy Story—with lots of popcorn. First, we have the Bible time puppet show. Then we watch the movie. But you can’t come without your folks’ permission, so be sure to ask!”
So the children’s ministry picks up steam. And it got jump-started with an ice cream blitz. The most potent summertime sound is probably that of the ice cream truck blaring its music. Why not turn that magical sound of summer into a children’s outreach?
Trinity Baptist Church in Vidor, Texas, converted their church van into an ice cream truck. Pastor Mike Richardson explains, “We attached a loudspeaker with a strong magnet on top of the van, piped children’s church songs through it, and placed two large magnet banners to the sides. We designed labels to glue to ice cream cups with the Gospel and information about our church. We go through each neighborhood on alternate Saturdays. We give out 30 to 50 ice creams in cups we purchase…or have donated each week. While we have them there, we share a little five-minute Gospel message. The kids who bring their empty cups to Sunday school the next day get a prize.”
The church promoted the blitz with flyers, free community ads on cable TV, word of mouth, and just plain driving the van around with the music blaring. It got the community’s attention! Previously, the church averaged seven children in Sunday school. Three weeks following the outreach efforts, attendance skyrocketed to over 70 children and is still growing. Some of the parents of these children have become involved with the outreach program as well!
- How effectively is our children’s ministry presently promoted?
- What event would be best to include on the ice cream invitations (children’s church, midweek club, Sunday school, VBS, special event, etc.)?
- What might be a creative way to involve our church kids themselves in each step of the process (and equip them as inviters)?
- What resources do we have that could be used to implement this idea (facility, people, money, programs, etc.)? Any additional resources needed?
- Who should be involved in making this idea a success?
- What obstacles do we foresee in implementing the idea?
- How will we define and measure the success of the idea?
- What timeline do we want to apply to implementing the idea?
- What specific prayer is required around this idea?
- Assess the best areas of the community to target with your ice cream blitz. Determine the best date/time of year for your event.
- Clearly outline the outreach objective and appoint a leader to manage the event.
- Gather a team who can manage the logistical and promotional details.
- Prepare materials that can be presented to the children and used to invite them to church. (These don’t necessarily have to present the Gospel formally—they can be of interest to kids and their needs and include an invitation to church.)
- Develop a detailed plan of all logistical and preparatory actions—location, purchase and storage of the ice cream, the method of delivery, the vehicle to be used, the loudspeakers and music needed, the roles of the various team members, etc. Consider having a training session with all involved beforehand so everyone knows what their role is (ice cream distributor, materials provider, clown, etc.)
- Promote the event creatively and thoroughly. Include promotion of the event in all church communications—worship bulletins, newsletters, e-mails, on your Web site, etc. Use a door-hanger campaign within your community. Consider a public service announcement on local TV and radio stations. Use flyers, verbal invitations, postcards, and even announcements through a stereo loudspeaker as the “ice cream truck” drives slowly through targeted neighborhoods.
- How many people involved themselves in this outreach project?
- What were some of the results from the ice cream blitz?
- How did we see God at work? How many new people have come to our church as a result of this idea? How many new people made a decision for Christ?
- Would we consider using this idea again? If not, why not?
- How could we improve on our implementation next time?
Excerpted from The Outreach Idea Kit, available at www.outreach.com. Used by permission.