For clubs in churches across the country the details that go into getting ready for a new club year are starting to settle into place. Volunteers are being recruited, club materials are beginning to arrive, the club start date is on the calendar and excitement is building. And of course, church members have signed up to be Pals—or have they? Maybe your club hasn’t even considered having a Pals program. If so, it’s not too late to start!

A Pal is a Christian adult from church (not a club leader) who is matched with one or more club members for prayer and friendship. Pals pray for club members regularly, attend special Pal events and remember club members in other ways—phone calls, visits, and cards, etc. Christian adults can serve as positive role models and children will benefit from their positive, caring attention. This has been a highly impacting part of many clubs through the year. Many leaders are still friends and encouraged by the Pals they had when they were young. Perhaps this is the year when you could start a program like this at your church.

Here are some ideas for tailoring your Pal program to fit your church’s needs. Ideas:

  • One-on-One-Pals – Assign one adult to one or two club members.
  • Club Pals – Assign one or two adults to a whole club age-group. Some clubs even recruit seniors to be club grandparents. This is a good idea if you don’t have enough Pal volunteers to assign one to each club member.
  • Parents – Parents can serve as Pals for younger club members like Skippers, Scooters and Voyagers.
  • Pal Couples – Assign a husband and wife to be Pals to a club member or two, especially siblings. This option is beneficial for club members from single-parent families or from outside your church.
  • Pal Families – A whole family could “adopt” a club member or two or an age-group and coordinate activities with them through club.

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll need to recruit Pals. You can begin by asking parents, church members, former leaders and former club members. Seniors and “empty-nesters” are also great candidates to recruit as Pals. When Pals are recruited and assigned, they will need ways to get to know their club member(s). Try these ideas:

  • Get acquainted activity – Have Pals come to part of a club meeting or a special event near the beginning of the club year. Have club members and adult Pals fill out the “This is Your Pal” form before the event. This helps Pals learn things about each other like favorite foods, books and activities. Give copies to assigned Pals before your event.
  • Club visits – Invite Pals to visit and find ways to involve them in club meetings.
  • Pal parties – Hold special events during club time. Invite Pals to come and spend time with their club members. Try having a picnic, Christmas party, Easter event, board game/video game event, etc.
  • Help in club – When you need a little extra help in club, consider asking Pals. This provides a great opportunity for Pals to see what happens in club and to spend some time getting to know their club members better.

Overall, the purpose of Pioneer Clubs is to help kids build healthy relationships with caring Christian adults, peers, and most importantly, with Christ. The Pal program supports this purpose. It can significantly enhance your Pioneer Clubs ministry, provide opportunities for outreach and is a great way to connect church members with club.