Thursday, September 8, 2011

Show Your Community You Care . . . Offer Free Family Fun Events!

Churches used to be the center of community life - families went to church on Sunday, children went to church for school all week and the community used the church for gatherings and special events. In far too many cases, today our churches are viewed as places for "church people", not places for the community. Let's think about how we can "throw open the doors of our churches" this Fall, welcome our community in and see if we can re-establish our churches as the place where everyone goes and finds the center of their community life!

Consider some of the following "door-opening" ideas and see if any of them would "fit" your church and community!

  • Saturday Picnics at the Church - if your church has a nice yard and the weather is nice, this is a great and natural way to invite your community to experience your church in a non-threatening way. Even if you are a city church, without a yard, set up portable carports for shade and use foam core to make "trees" complete with Fall-colored leaves - place these around your parking lot and "create" your own "park/yard"! Promote throughout your community and invite families to join you on Saturdays throughout the Fall for a picnic lunch, games and just a time of fellowship and fun! Always bring extra sandwiches, bags of chip, lemonade and cookies to share with anyone who shows up without a lunch - you could ask church families to bring enough for their family and to share with another family. As people see your picnic each Saturday, it will generate interest and curiosity and by the end of the Fall, there is no telling how many community people may join in on the fun! (Move your picnic inside on rainy Saturdays)
  • Monday Morning - Pick-Me-Up! - Involve your church "early-birds" in this opportunity to provide coffee for people in your community who are on their way to work! Promote throughout your community and invite people to swing by your church on their way to work for a free cup of coffee. You could even set up a small "cafe'" in your foyer for any who want to sit and enjoy their coffee, but for most if you have a table with a coffee pot, cups and lids you will be all set to hand out a cup of coffee with a smile and warm greeting to any who stop by!
  • Family Movie Night - Choose one month of the Fall and then promote your church as "the" place to be each Friday evening for Family Movie Night! Ask families to bring lawn chairs and blankets - have extras for anyone who shows up without them - set up a projector and show the movie on the side of your church as soon as it gets dark! Provide popcorn and lemonade and you have an opportunity for the entire community to come together for family fun! Be sure to get a license to show videos by contacting Swank Motion Pictures - 1.800.876.5577 for info on how to get this license for your church.
  • Chili Cook-Off or Cookie Bake-Off! - Open the doors to your kitchen and invite families in and out of your church to prepare their best chili recipe in your cook-off! Provide a prize, trophy or ribbon for first, second and third place and plan for a lot of fun! Bring in chips, corn bread and chili toppings for a huge dinner/picnic after the cook-off . . . after all, you have to do something with all that chili! :-) You could have a simultaneous Cookie Bake-Off in your church kitchen - provide a prize, trophy or ribbon for this, too and then the cookies will be able to serve as the desert for your dinner/picnic!
  • Plan a Fall Festival - bob for apples, pin-the-hat-on-the-scarecrow, provide game booths, plan to paint faces, set up a photo booth and allow families to dress up for a photo, make a maze in a classroom or out in your parking lot - use your imagination and have fun!
These are just a few ideas for ways to make your church the center of community life this Fall in your town. Get a team of creative people together and see if any of these - or something you come up with on your own - might "fit" your church and be a way for you to show your community you care!

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