Making the Most of Summer—

Spring has sprung, which means summer is around the corner. Soon, the busy hustle and bustle of the school year will make way for a more relaxed pace—more free squares on the calendar and fewer demands from school and extra-curricular activities.  This “extra” time allows for more opportunities to intentionally connect with our children and families, helping them know Jesus, make memories, grow friendships, and build a sense of  belonging in the church.

VBS, camps, Summer Sunday School, story-times, parks and popsicles, neighborhood meet ups, water game nights, family Olympics—the ideas are endless. And with each idea comes opportunity to connect children and families with each other, to the Word, and to the church. Fun summer events—big or small—provide space and time for our church family to extend the welcoming grace we have received to children and families within the congregation as well as the outside community. For every fun event, for every meal shared, for every silly song, skit, or story makes a connection and an opportunity for sharing the gospel and Jesus’s love.

What do these connections look and sound like?  They are the smiles and laughter of all ages playing together, voices singing while doing motions to songs about Jesus, the sticky fingers and grins of popsicle-stained  faces, the beat of bare feet running towards a favorite VBS leader, and even the little eyes.

These are the sights and sounds of summer. These are the small moments that happen during summer events, summer events—big or small—that you and your volunteers prayerfully and intentionally plan to invite children and families to know Jesus, make memories, grow friendships, and build the sense of belonging in the church.

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7).

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing for planning intentional summer events.

Vacation Bible School … Plug for Reach Out Adventures kits have everything you need!

Summers Camps …. Think of a theme: like artsy, sporty, water, missions.

Themed Story Times … Make it fun, encourage dress up, or and a have craft or and a snack that to go with the story.

Father/Son Evening … Host a campfire with s’mores and have a speaker share on a topic for boys/dads or think of an activity that would resonate with the men and boys in your church.

Mother/Daughter Evening … Create an art project, maybe painting, sculpture, or with paper. Plan to have a speaker to share on a topic that would edify moms and daughters.

Afternoon Adventure Days … Start with a service project in the morning with a local mission partner or around the church, and then head out for an adventure! Go bowling, to a splash pad, laser tag, jumpy park, state park for hikes, or set up slip n’ slides, or and rent bounce houses/water slides.

Family Movie Nights … Encourage families to bring their own take-out or order pizzas and you provide popcorn and candy. (The children love to turn in tickets for candy.) This can be indoors or outdoors depending on your space. You could even send home some take home questions about the movie that help point families to ways of talking about the gospel.

Family Scavenger Hunt … Create clues for families to pick up, and then send them off around the church or the nearby area. The last clue brings them back to the church or a park for pizza or ice cream.

Family Competitions … Host an Olympics, Cake Decorating, Water Night, or Game Night.

Park Meet-Ups … Plan a few times to meet up with families at the park to encourage fellowship over the summer.

Mommy & Me Bible Study or Family Bible Study … Encourage everyone to bring a picnic lunch or dinner and start with fellowship. Then have a short Bible study with a complementary study for children. Topics could be the names of God, parables, or Jesus’s miracles. Send home suggestions to continue the discussion and develop family devotions.

Hymn Sing … Plan an outdoor or indoor family worship night.

Sundae Sundays …. Gather everyone to make sundaes on a Sunday evening. If done on a regular basis, you could add training on biblical topics to encourage and engage the families you serve.

Laura Tucker is the Children’s Ministry Director at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. Laura grew up in the church and spent many summers there and at camp preparing her for a children’s ministry full of fun activities and time in God’s Word. Laura served as the nursery director before her role over preschool and elementary students. She is married and has three children who keep her involved in volunteer ministry to the youth as well. She enjoys time at the lake, playing tennis and cheering on the Dawgs.