At the outset, I feel I should be open and honest – to me holiday clubs are all about evangelism.
I think they’re a brilliant opportunity for the local church to share how God wants to be in relationship with each and every one of us. I understand holiday clubs can be key moments in the lives of children who already know Jesus. But I’ll always view holiday clubs as first and foremost a vehicle to share the truth of who Jesus is and the invitation for all to follow him.
When thinking about how to make a holiday club more evangelistic, the foundational place to begin is how you view the purpose of the holiday club. The key foundation is to see the primary purpose of the holiday club as helping children discover who Jesus is. This needs to impact and inform everything else – from the planning and preparation through to delivery and follow up.
In terms of specific tips, the list is endless but here are the top five things I’d consider to begin with:
The team, whether up front, leading music, involved in drama or sorting the refreshments need to be prepared. Be clear about the evangelistic rationale behind the delivery of your holiday club. Everyone involved needs to have this shared with them. They need to be prepared to be able to have conversations with children in their groups who may have never engaged with church, the Bible or God in any way before. Think about what training might be required and build in this into your preparation.
It’s easy to use loads of different words and phrases that we might know and understand but for many children who haven’t grown up in the church, they won’t have a clue what half of it means.
Bear this in mind both in terms of the delivery of the holiday club as you work amongst the children, but also in terms of any publicity or communication to parents/guardians. The means and manner in which you publicise your holiday club is so important. It needs to be clear, honest and creative – answering as many of the questions that may be asked as possible.
A holiday club should be exciting and having a fun theme that will engage and draw in the children is important. But it’s not only about being exciting and fun, the content needs to be chosen carefully as it needs to cover the basic building blocks that will enable children to discover Jesus.
Over the course of your holiday club, the children will no doubt gather various things they make, possibly some activity sheets and one or two other things besides. All this stuff is great, they can be tools to help the children continue to explore what has been shared during the club, spark further thought and enable future conversations to take place.
But consider how much of it will end up in the bin within a couple of days of being brought home. I’d encourage doing one craft really well, creating something that the children will want to take home and keep.
5) Follow up
This should be a no-brainer, but often it’s only thought about during the delivery of a holiday club. Follow up is not just key, it is essential. As you begin planning your holiday club it should be part of the preparation from the off. It needs to be manageable and it needs to be appropriate. If the holiday club gatherings have a different feel to the regular Sunday meetings for example, ask yourself if inviting children along to the next Sunday is the right step? Don’t promise things you can’t sustain, but how will you get in touch with those who came, will you be able to do house visits or could there be a Christmas reunion party?
In all the holiday clubs and evangelistic children events I’ve been involved in, I think it’s important that children have an amazing time! I always hope they go away wanting more, having enjoyed themselves to the extreme. As well though, I also hope they have gone away having heard and seen something of the truth of the love of Jesus for them personally and the difference knowing him can make.
Sometimes it’s worked better than others, sometimes the crazy ideas and chaotic fun have taken centre stage more than they should. But that’s when you re-group after each exhausting week and reflect on what went well and what can we do even better next time, as we seek to play a part in Jesus impacting their lives.