Ideas for Planning Family Church Events

by Amanda Graber

Many churches hold special events for families throughout the year, but no two churches’ events are exactly alike. While there are some key components to be considered, tailoring activities to meet the specific needs of a church and congregation can help create a memorable event for families.

Purpose

Naturally, family church events are meant for families, but choosing a specific objective can add focus to the planning stage. Some family events might be filled with nonsensical family-friendly fun, while other events are meant to be an extension of a Sunday sermon and provide teaching activities. Biblical charades is a fun way to reinforce what kids are learning in Sunday School. Meanwhile, squirt gun fights and water balloon wars might not count as educational activities, but they will offer participants a unique fellowship opportunity. Family events meant to celebrate a specific occasion or season might have a built-in set of ideas. A Mother’s Day event might feature a pancake brunch, while a fall festival might include hayrides and pumpkin painting. Any family event can help families bond together. Relays with different stations can help families work as a team, but also make use of each other’s individual strengths. Activities that give families a common goal, like solving a challenge, allow family members to learn to cooperate.

Location

When planning a family event, an important consideration is the location. Holding an event outdoors leaves activities subject to weather. Indoor locations may have space restrictions or layouts that won’t accommodate a large group; a sanctuary may seat the entire congregation, but a large room with fixed pews might not suit family events with high-energy activities. Tailor activities to suit the space in which they will be held. In limited spaces, plan activities that don’t require a lot of movement, like watching a movie or creating a storybook where each family member contributes pages to build the story. In large open spaces, plan activities that take advantage of the space, like charades or scavenger hunts.

Timing

Also consider when an activity will be held. Planning a mud-run immediately after a Sunday morning service might not be the best idea, but holding a tailgating-themed party in the church parking lot, complete with grills and sports-related games, might be a great family event for a summer afternoon. Consider any holidays that fall near the scheduled date of a family event. Activities for an event near Thanksgiving could include decorating potholders, and an event near Christmas could feature ornament decorating. Events can complement the time of year or offer a welcome contrast; for example, a beach-themed party in January, complete with fresh fruit and Hawaiian shirts, might offer a nice break from the snow outside.

Theme

Don’t underestimate the power of a theme. While choosing a theme for family events might seem to limit potential activities, it actually can help bolster creative brainstorming. A theme can give an event much-needed focus. Choosing a campout theme, for example, can inspire all sorts of ideas. The event could be held in the evening, and families could bring tents, cook s’mores and sing silly songs or listen to stories around the campfire. A county fair theme can inspire volunteers to create individual booths where families can participate in activities like face-painting, creating crafts and playing games.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

Amanda Graber has been a writer and editor since 2009. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications. As an editor, she has worked for both a commercial magazine and a children's literary agency. Graber holds a master's degree in writing and publishing from DePaul University.