21 Outreach Ideas for Kids
By Selma Johnson, Mark von Ehrenkrook
At a recent children’s outreach retreat, one of our visiting children decided to follow Christ. His parents came to church the next Sunday. They said, “Our son came home so changed that we wanted to find out why.”
That’s what outreach is all about-reaching out to people who’d normally not come to your church. Listed below are ideas to help your churched kids reach out to their unchurched friends and families.
Take the time and effort to plan and organize well. Make sure kids understand that you want them to invite their unchurched friends. It won’t be hard to convince them. When you provide fun events, kids will eagerly let their friends know.
SPECIAL DAYS: Kids of all ages will enjoy these days.
• Art Day — Invite a local artist to teach cartooning, color and line, and perspective. Have kids make masks or learn how to mix colors.
• Gym Day — Rent or borrow a gym if you don’t have one on your church campus. Invite a local sports figure to offer a clinic for your kids. Ask a local grocery for free drinks and give a sponsor’s award in return with your thanks.
• Game Day — Have kids bring their favorite table games. Hold a tournament and give prizes in each age category. Or make your own games. How about a huge Twister using various colored paper plates taped to the floor?
• Sidewalk Circus — Have children make puppets and create a puppet show. Take your puppet team to the city park and hold a sidewalk circus. You can also have circus-type acts, clowns, and balloons. Invite visiting children to come to your church on Sunday.
• Music Day — Have kids bring their own instruments for a band. Or have a kazoo marching band.
• Ecology Day — Teach about reuse, reduce, and recycle. Have kids plant trees in your community or coordinate a paper drive. Communicate the ecology message from the standpoint that God created the world and gave us authority over it.
• Kite Day — Fly high in the spring. After morning worship, supply kite-making materials. Serve families pizza or hot dogs for lunch. After everyone has eaten and made a kite, enjoy flying the kites.
• Celebrate Friend Day — Encourage each child to bring a friend to Sunday school. Honor friends by having children give their guests a special name tag and a helium balloon.
• Cookie Bake-Off — With plenty of adult supervision, have children bake cookies. Use simple, pictorial recipes and premeasure all ingredients. After the cookie party, have kids seal the extra cookies in plastic bags. Take children to give the cookies to a shut-in, nursing home resident, or sick child.
• Animal Crackers — How about a petting zoo or a parade of your favorite stuffed animals? Maybe a live pet show? Kids could pretend to be animals in the zoo. Or you could re-enact Noah’s collection of animals. Set up in a neighborhood on Saturday morning and watch kids flock to you.
• Children’s Day — Use this special day to recognize children. Focus all the music and events around children. Decorate with helium balloon bouquets. Have children assist adult ushers and lead in prayer. Invite parents so they can be ministered to as they see how much your church values their children.
• S.O.K. (Summer Outing for Kids) — This is a special day in the summer. Charge a nominal fee for these days and encourage kids to invite friends. You can do any of the following:
* Go to the zoo, a children’s museum, or a farm.
* Have a cooking day where kids prepare and cook their own lunch.
* Hold a day camp with planned activities such as crafts, cooking, games, and stories.
• Kinder Kamp — Get an address list of unchurched preschoolers by asking young mothers for names of unchurched mothers of preschoolers they know. On the Saturday before preschoolers are promoted to their new Sunday school class, invite churched and unchurched preschoolers and their parents to Kinder Kamp. Have them come to their new Sunday school departments, meet their new teachers, and see what they’ll be doing. Serve refreshments and give each child a school box and pencil. Children and parents will be more excited about Sunday school after Kinder Kamp.
PARTIES: You won’t have to coerce kids to invite their friends to these fun events.
• Design a T-Shirt Party — Do this activity at the beginning of the summer and have kids design a theme shirt for the summer. Provide fabric paint and have kids bring T-shirts to decorate. Then set kids free to create.
• Pizza Party — Set up a topping bar and have kids make their own pizzas on English muffins. Combine this food-fest with a Frisbee golf tournament on the lawn. You could call this one “Par Wars and the Pepperoni Strikes Back”!
• Movie Party — Rent a movie with permission to show the movie to a group. Pop plenty of popcorn. Have kids make this a “drive-in movie” by making cars out of boxes before the movie starts. Kids can sit in their “cars” and watch the show.
• Make-a-Movie Extravaganza — Use Bible themes and re-enact biblical stories, or create your own theme. Give plastic “Oscar” awards after the screening.
• Game Shows — Run your own game show. It’s fun! Game versions of shows such as Double Dare are available at toy outlets. Or you can make your own Wheel of Fortune game.
• Gong Show — This is an amateur program based on TV’s The Gong Show. Kids can show off their talents and have a great time. Plan silly adult talent acts for gonging. Use a hanging metal trash can lid for gonging.
EXTENDED EVENTS: During longer events, there are greater opportunities for churched kids to share their faith with their unchurched friends.
• Snow J-A-M (Jesus and Me) — You can call this retreat for third- through sixth-graders anything you want-as long as you keep the J-A-M for “Jesus and Me.” It’s Snow J-A-M in our church because it’s held in January and there’s snow on the ground!
Plan this retreat away from the church on a Friday night or an all-day Saturday. And encourage kids to invite other kids. Invite a speaker to address topics such as friendship, self-image, and relationship with Jesus.
• Rainbow River Camp — This four-day camp has recreation, Bible stories, games, and worship for kids. Provide enough adult supervision for quality one-on-one time for each child at some time during the camp. You’ll have best outreach results if you have this in a city park.
This article “21 Outreach Ideas For Kids” by Selma Johnson and Mark von Ehrenkrook is excerpted from Children’s Ministry Magazine, July 2008.