10 Tips for a Great Back-to-School Sunday

It's been a busy summer for most children's ministry leaders.  VBS.  Camps.  Outdoor activities.  Mission trips.   And perhaps even vacation mixed in there somewhere. 

For many of you, you're just coming out of those events and activities.  And it's still like a gazillion degrees outside.  Seems like summer is here to stay.

But it's not.  In just a few short weeks, kids will be returning to school.  Cooler temps will return.  Families will return to their routines.  Many will start attending church more regularly.  And this means you have a great opportunity to grow and expand your children's ministry. 

Let's look at some tips that will help you set up a "Back-to-School" Sunday and enable you to see lots of spiritual fruit this fall.

Promote it heavily.   Start a minimum of a month out.  Start announcing it.  Put it in the bulletin.  Put up posters about it.  Get kids excited about it.

Have every child write down the name of at least one unchurched friend they can bring with them. Take time to pray for the children they will be inviting.

Provide invite cards for the kids to pass out.  Provide invite cards that they can use to invite their friends. You will be amazed at how God uses the invites the kids give out.  I remember one year we had a lady show up at church for the first time.  We asked how she heard about the church.  She told us she was a school crossing guard and one of the kids had handed her an invite. 

Help kids see the power of the ask and how God will use them if they invite people.

Do the event 1 to 2 weeks after school starts.  This gives kids time to get to know the kids they are going to invite.  It also gives families a couple of weeks to get settled back in their routine before you invite them.

Give kids ideas for bringing their friends.   Have a sleepover and bring all the kids with you to church the next day.  Take their guests to a fun place to eat afterwards.  Take the child and their guest to a movie after the service is over.  Invite your sports team.  Invite your class from school. 

Give a free gift to every child who attends.  It doesn't have to be something big that breaks your budget.  Head over www.orientaltrading.com and you can find lots of ideas that will fit any size budget.

Give away a grand prize for the child who brings the most guests.  An idea is to give away a free pizza party at a place like Chuck E. Cheeses.  They can invite their church guests to come with them. This can be a huge win as it provides you the opportunity to spend more time with the new guests and their families outside of the four walls of the church.  I once had a child bring 26 guests for this.

You will have lots of unchurched guests that day.  Share a clear Gospel presentation.  Invite those who raise their hand to come to a class (with their parents) where the Gospel is shared again with parents present.  You can find out more about this approach by checking out the Starting Point class at this link.  This process will empower you to reach parents and their children with the Gospel.

Start an awesome series the week after and invite guests to return.  Show some previews and get them excited about coming.  Here are some ideas.

Let each guest know they will receive a free gift the next time they return.  A t-shirt with your children's ministry logo on it is a great item to give kids on their second visit.  If that won't fit your budget, then find something else that will.  Again, Oriental Trading is a great place to find small, fun gifts for kids.

(bonus idea below)

Make it fun.  Ensure that kids have a blast.  Play lots of crazy, messy games.  Have fun, engaging worship songs.  Make sure each child feels loved, special and important.  Small group leaders are great at this. 

If you haven't started planning a back-to-school Sunday, now is the time to do so.  It is one of the most fruitful things you can do coming out of summer.