What would happen if you reimagined summer connections to focus on families? I experienced God blessing our faith community making it bigger, better, and stronger. When children’s pastors lean into God’s leading and follow the spirit, imagination, creativity, and new potential for growth are released.
Plus, children’s ministry closets and cabinets are stuffed with equipment and creative supplies that are just bursting to be unleashed with unlimited possibilities for your families. Together, we can reimagine summer connections with families at the forefront.
So let’s begin dreaming.
Dream Big (and Small)
When you shift the summer focus to family connections, you can target specific needs your congregation has expressed. There are so many possibilities, but here are just a few examples:
- Intentionally connecting dads and supporting them as primary faith leaders in their homes.
- Curating age-appropriate activities for families regarding social, emotional, physical, and spiritual skills.
- Providing a family camp opportunity that connects younger parents to seasoned mentors in the church.
- Targeting loving our neighbors through family connections.
So how do we begin? Pray. Ask God to lead you to conversations with families and volunteers about ways to expand your ministry to make family connections. You will likely discover that many families have been craving the opportunity to meet others and would jump on board to help.
I love summer ministry because it allows me to playfully explore building family connections at different levels. Think of a zero-entry swimming pool as the perfect image for summer connections. There is a variety of depths so you can venture in where you feel safe and secure.
Family Connection activities at that zero-entry depth should target getting all ages to gather and provide space for natural introductions and connections. Another rule of thumb is that families should be able to easily invite neighbors or guests and feel comfortable at the event.
Outdoor BBQ Yard Party
Fire up those grills with burgers and dogs. Toss out hula hoops, soccer balls, footballs, bag toss games, and other yard games and encourage play. Have nametags on the food table to help make connections and invite a few amateur photographers to come and snap pictures. After the event, put the photos on display in your ministry space to help remind people of who they met.
Pool / Park Party
Everyone loves being at the pool and the park in the summer. These are already natural connecting places, so be strategic. Rent out a pool or a park shelter for the evening. Provide special snacks and drinks for your guests. Consider planning a couple of large group games to get the connections started.
Host pool noodle games and a family-style pasta dinner. Pinterest is loaded with pool noodle activities, from racing to picking up the meatballs and spaghetti (beach balls and pool noodles), noodle limbo, long jumps, and more. Then, like a big Italian family, sit down to some fine dining, slurping up spaghetti and sauce.
The shallow end of the pool is for those growing in confidence. This is the perfect space to build age-appropriate themed events. At this level, you want to engage families to see and understand their connections around children in the same phase. These family connections can lead to ongoing emotional support and encouragement.
My team developed a variety of Phase Nights over the years that highlighted parents and kids making connections specifically around social, emotional, physical, and spiritual phases. Our goal was to build deeper relationships by understanding how their child was growing.
We also provided spiritual resources for our families, such as books, games, and music.
Infant / Crawler Phase Night
Since touch is the number one way a parent communicates at this stage, we brought in an infant massage specialist to train parents.
Pre-School Phase Night
Why, why, why? An evening where wonder and science experiments produce conversations and connections between adults and kids around “how?” and “why?” questions!
Upper Elementary Phase Night
An Escape Room with riddles, locks, and multiple levels of problems provide non-stop interaction and connections between fourth and fifth graders and their parents. Parents of this age group are often experiencing the dance between independence and dependency.
The variety of problems initiates the give-and-take of knowledge from everyone to be a success.
The deep-end experience involves trusting God enough to let go of any predetermined must-do programs or events of the past and moving forward where the spirit is leading. Imagine what can happen if you let go of your typical summer programming and say, “God, lead us. We will follow.”
He is the God of the unimaginable. He may lead you to the most incredible ministry revival for families this century.
- Exchange Kids Camp for Family Camp
- Swap Vacation Bible School for Family Week Experience
- Substitute Sunday Worship for Family Worship
Any idea you would consider a DEEP END needs to be communicated well to church leadership and families. Who could be on the team to reimagine this idea? How does this engage differently than what you’ve in the past? In what ways do you imagine growth? What connection impact would be the benefit of doing something fresh?
Daring, exciting, and bold. These words describe the brave children’s pastor who looks at the pool before them and wants to jump in and explore the depths. When we focus on meeting families’ needs at the church or at our event spaces, we create a dependency on ministry.
Imagine if you set families on a path to discover how to connect with their neighbors and friends. These new connections could impact the city’s neighborhoods, schools, and businesses.
Imagine if you equipped your church families’ homes to be the neighborhood houses where people felt known, cared for, and loved. Target mentoring a few households to host Zero-Entry Events on their driveways or in their backyards by inviting neighbors and friends to bring their families.
Your ministry could sponsor one of the following ideas.
- Saturday Morning Donuts on the Driveway
- Popsicles at the Park
- Hotdogs and Wiffleball
- Backyard Games Kits
- Glow Party
Summer Is the Time
Summer is the perfect time to be playful and purposefully connect your families by reimagining ministry. Imagine the connection opportunities you might have when your families are on mission for Christ together—deepening their friendships and faith.
Trust God’s lead. Take a chance this summer. Reimagine opportunities for families. And then share with us how you saw God show up!