If you’ve been in kid ministry there’s been an event that many churches are doing called a “family experience” or a “[insert your ministry’s name] experience”. I’ve written about it before.
The idea is simple. What if we got parents and kids in the same room and talked about what their kids are learning and vision behind why you do what you do in kidmin.
So if this is something you’ve tried to do or want to do, the question is… what makes an event an experience?
Dictionary.com defines an experience like this:
Experience: def: an event or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone.
I like that definition.
Because an experience should leave an impression.
So what takes another church event to the level of an experience?
Here are things we do to make an event an experience.
1. Show off your kids ministry. If it’s worth showing off.
Here’s what I mean by that because it can sound kind of… mean spirited. I firmly believe you should spend the bulk of your budget, time, and effort on your weekend service for kids. I talked to a church once who’s entire yearly kidmin budget was smaller than their budget for a week of VBS.
Do you see what’s wrong with that picture?
That same church was asking why their VBS wasn’t giving them the growth they expected.
The reason was, for one week their budget said they cared about kid ministry, and the other 51 weeks, it didn’t.
Our advice was to cut their VBS and make that their annual budget. Make every weekend a “VBS” experience.
Parents should get a glimpse of what their kids experience on a weekend. Show off your kids ministry, not in a prideful way, but in a way that communicates to your church and community, you care about kids. 52 weeks out of the year.
2. Engage the kids
Put simply if you want to create a family event that’s a family experience, it should be… FUN. That means surprises, giveaways, games, and simply fun.
Absolutely you need to share the Gospel and what you are teaching kids in their environments.
But hear me on this point, not as a pastor but as a dad, if my kids are bored at an event, I’m stressed at that event. (Boredom usually equals trouble)
3. Engage the parents
If you really want your event to rise to an experience, you should target the parents as well. This means 80’s and increasingly more, 90’s jokes.
Absolutely engage the kids, but work hard to make it fun for the adults in the room.
4. Share vision
The big win for us at our family experiences is to communicate to parents that we see them as THE spiritual leaders in their home.
We simply want to partner with them and share the practical tools we’ve been given from experience, research, and most importantly God’s Word.
We make sure to share this vision of parents leading their kids at every FX.
5. Inspire them.
This is close to the last one but slightly different. We don’t just want to share vision by having someone talk about it. We want to inspire parents to step up and lead their homes. We also want to celebrate what God is doing in our family ministry.
That’s why we actually incorporate our kid ministry baptism service into our family experience.
Do you have to do it that way?
But by doing so we celebrate what God is doing and we inspire many new parents and kids to take next steps in their faith. Whether it’s coming to church, spiritually leading their home, accepting Christ, or even taking the next step of baptism.
6. Ask them to do something practical or something fun.
Trust me when I tell you, your parents don’t need something else to do.
But an experience shouldn’t stay planted on the stage or auditorium. It should leave with them.
That’s why every FX we hand out a “widget” or something that can go home with the family.
It’s something they can do together to talk about what they are learning about faith.
7. Work as a team.
This is the last one but it may be the most important.
At our last FX we told the story of Creation and we literally had the entire room come to life with tons of interactive and exciting representations of Creation.
My biggest take away was, you can’t pull off an experience by yourself.
You need a team of dedicated and service minded people.
The youth pastor can be the comic host.
The worship pastor can lead a song.
Your preschool puppet can make an appearance.
Make it an experience. Work as a team.
At the end of the day you can apply these principles to any event.
Make it an experience worth sharing.
Engage your whole audience.
Invite them to be a part.
And assemble and use the best from everyone in your team.
If you do that any event will be an experience that leaves an impression.