Yippee! It’s the end of the school year! For many parents and children, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. Time to prepare to enjoy shorts, swimsuits, and sand. For the children’s minister, though, summer means a busier schedule. Playgrounds and popsicles, VBS, and the dreaded volunteer recruiting for the fall. So, here’s a summer treat for you: The gift of a Fall Kick-Off Guide so that you can easily plan a great event that’s sure to please any child when the dog days of summer come to an end.
1. Choose a theme for your Fall Kick-Off
Whether it’s a Back-to-School Splash (water games, water slides, water buckets and balloons – and more), a Back-to-School Sunday (built into your already-scheduled Sunday time frame), a Fall Kick-Off (football or soccer themed), a Children’s Ministry Fair (carnival themed with games and activities), or something completely different – choose an idea that will excite children and families and that fits your faith community.
2. Set a date
Look at the school calendars to find out when schools begin and plan your event for a time that takes into consideration all the families in your ministry. Some leaders avoid the weekends right before schools go back opting. Instead, they have their Fall Kick-Off a few weeks after schools begin. Whatever date you choose, be sure it’s on the church-wide calendar and your ministry calendar. Then, share it with families well in advance.
3. Spread the word about Fall Kick-Off… with style
Let your creative juices flow (or recruit someone else who can help). Design a graphic that includes the title of your event, a brief description, the date and time, the location, and who’s invited. The word free can be a big draw for some families! Then, use this graphic on postcards to send to kids (who love to get mail). Put up posters in local shops and around your church building. Finally, ensure that it’s posted on your church’s website and your ministry’s social media page or group.
4. Be prepared
A Fall Kick-Off is a great time to exchange important information with parents. Maybe this is a good opportunity to publish and share your ministry calendar for the new school year or fall semester. Perhaps setting up a station where families can complete new emergency forms and photo releases is a good idea. Or maybe you have a specific next event you want to be sure everyone is invited to, and you create take-home cards strategically for that next event. Whatever it is, don’t miss this opportunity to think ahead and prepare to engage parents beyond the present.
5. Choose a winner
Plan to do a drawing at your kickoff. By creating simple connection cards that collect a family’s names (parents and children), contact information, and children’s birthdates or current grades, you’re not only inviting them to stick around for something exciting – you’re updating your database. Set up a table with a themed basket (family movie night, family game night, make-your-own family t-shirts set, etc.), blank connection cards, pens, a sand bucket for families to place completed cards. At the end of your event, draw a card for the family that wins the basket.
6. Recruit volunteers for your Fall Kick-Off
This is the time to ask some of your behind-the-scenes people (or those who don’t want to serve with kids every week) to volunteer.
- Make a list of the areas you’ll need volunteers to serve in and determine how many volunteers / roles you’ll need in each area (e.g. setting up, serving snacks, greeting families, leading games, cleaning up, etc.)
- Build a list of potential volunteer names. This can include senior adults, youth, whole small groups, board members, anyone who can help to make the Fall Kick-Off a success.
- Have a mini job description ready when you prepare to ask someone to volunteer for the Fall Kick-Off. (As an example: Hey, friend. I know it’s only summer but I want to get this on your calendar sooner than later. I’m planning our Fall Kick-Off and I’d love for you to help [greet families] for a couple hours. It’s on [Sunday, August 21] from [2:00 PM – 4:00 PM]. Would you be willing to [sit at a table and help families fill out a welcome card?]
- Make the ask.
Need more help with recruiting for your ministry? Check out our FREE Volunteer Megaboard Tool!
7. Plan ahead
Make a list of the supplies you’ll need, where you’ll want to shop, and who can help with this preparation. Then, gather supplies at least a week or two ahead of the event.
8. Follow up after the Fall Kick-Off
After your kickoff, use the information from emergency forms and connection cards (from the drawing) to create or update your ministry database with children and family information. Use this information to invite families to attend regular programming and events and make plans to send birthday cards out to kids.
Now that your Fall Kick-Off is planned, it’s time to put your feet up and enjoy summer, knowing that the kick-off for Fall is ready to go.