Principle #1 — Give families ways to build relationships with church members.
They’re more likely to encounter the gospel if they meet people and make friends. Pioneer Clubs gives you opportunities to make this happen. Try one of these ideas…
- Parent Pals – Have a couple of Parent Pals who greet parents when they bring their kids each week. The Parent Pals can chat, serve coffee and hand out reminders.
- Parent Party – Have a parent party during club time. Encourage church parents to reach out and chat with parents they may not know during the event. Include a time of introductions, by playing “Group and Regroup.” Call out a category. Players start calling out their answers and forming groups with people calling out the same answers. When groups are made, group members introduce themselves. Then call out a new category. Category ideas: birth month; toothpaste brand; favorite pizza topping; favorite soft drink; preference for hotels, tents or RVs; preference for chili dogs, corn dogs or cheese dogs.
- Help with Activity Awards – Ask parents about their interests and plug them in to help with activity awards. Someone who speaks another language could help with the International Fun award. Someone who camps could help with an outdoor award. As you plan together, parents will have friendly contact with you and the other club leaders. You could even plan at a coffee shop or a restaurant over dessert, keeping the focus on developing relationship and looking for natural opportunities to share the gospel.
- Pioneer Clubs Sunday – This special day for highlighting your club program is a nonthreatening way invite families into your church home. Parents love to see their kids perform. Have club members usher, sing, recite a memory verse, do a skit. For planning ideas, see Celebrate Your Club on Pioneer Clubs Sunday. Have snacks after the service, and encourage church families to invite un-churched families to sit with them.
Principle #2 — Get the message out in more ways than one.
The more positive contact you have with parents the more likely they are to become comfortable with you and more open to hearing the gospel. You want to create an environment where they know they are loved and accepted.
- Award Ceremonies – Invite parents to club award ceremonies. Pioneer Clubs suggests that you have an award celebration each month to give out each unit’s awards. This gives kids immediate feedback but also provides un-churched parents more opportunities to become comfortable in your church. Have a bigger award ceremony each quarter or twice a year to get parents into the sanctuary.
- Mailing List – Ask Pioneer Clubs families if they would like to be included in your church mailing list after they have had a chance to get to know people in your church.
- Personal Invitations – Personally invite families to upcoming Pioneer Clubs and church events. The personal touch goes a long way. You might even ask club families from the church to make the invitations.
- Pastor’s Contact – Have the pastor send a note to Pioneer Clubs families offering a free book on Christian parenting.
- Video – Send a Christian kids video to parents with a note about a positive quality you’ve been noticing in their child. Include a thank-you for letting their child come to club.
Principle #3 — Show a genuine interest in families and kids.
One Pioneer Clubs staffer found her new church when the people were so friendly that “they sucked me right in,” she says.
Parents can tell if you care about them, and it’s a very attractive quality. If you’re shy, pray for courage and remember that people appreciate being noticed. Ask friendly questions: “What did your family do for (holiday that’s just passed)?” “What’s Johnny’s favorite subject in school?” “What does your family like to do in (season that’s beginning)?”
Invite parents to sit with you during Pioneer Clubs Sunday. Offer rides to club or church. If you’re inviting families to a church dinner, ask them to sit with you. Introduce them around. Friendliness and kindness is hard to resist.
Many churches report that parents find their way into church because of their relationship with the people who run club ministry. With a little intentionality, your club could open a door that changes the lives of both parents and kids.