The holiday club after-life
It’s July, and if you’re doing a holiday club this summer, it might only be days away. You’ve probably been planning for months: gathering together volunteers, assigning people roles, collecting materials for construction and games, going through the DBS process, risk assessing your venue, casting the vision to your congregation, buying the vats of squash and the mountain of biscuits needed… The list of preparation is long and arduous, but the holiday club itself will be worth it.
Often a holiday club is the biggest outreach a church (or group of churches) does with children. It’s a prime time for children and families to meet Jesus for the very first time. It’s an excellent way of getting new volunteers involved in children’s work. It’s a significant moment in the discipleship of children already part of your community. But what comes next?
The effort of putting on a holiday club can often be so draining that to think of what happens next can make us feel queasy. However, by not doing so means that we could be doing holiday-club children a massive disservice. Relationships with children and their families have been started, children have heard about (and hopefully got excited by) Jesus, the good news has been proclaimed, and we need to make sure that children and families can carry on that connection with us, and with Jesus. So what can you do?
You might be able to invite children to join your existing groups. That is providing the groups meet at times that these new children and families can make and that they’re geared to accepting newcomers. Taking this course means that new children and families can quickly become part of your community.
It might be more appropriate to create a new group for children who become part of your community through a holiday club. A Messy Church group, meeting on a weekend afternoon could be a good place to start, as could a midweek after-school club (either based in your church building or at a local primary school, if you are already part of the life of the school). A new group allows you to tailor your sessions to the needs of your new members, rather than try to change the direction of an existing group.
You could put together a programme of one-off events – what festivals or local celebrations can you link in with? Bonfire night, Christmas and Easter are fairly obvious suggestions, but what might you do at Halloween or during half-terms? Are there local fairs or carnivals that you can get involved in? Use your imagination to create sessions or events that are fun, inviting for holiday club children and families and allow space for families from your church community and those on the fringes to mix naturally.
You needn’t use the same team of volunteers for your follow-up plans, but if there is a core of people wanting to carry on volunteering, that would really help children and families continue relationships started at a holiday club. Indeed this is the key – relationships. If a child and their family feel welcomed, and continue to feel welcome, in your church community, then they see Jesus at work and are going to keep coming back.
When the shaving foam has been wiped up, the scenery stored away and the final biscuits eaten, don’t call it a day. Keep the ministry going. Keep on welcoming, chatting, showing Jesus, supporting and fostering faith – through these small steps, we’re going to change the world!
(Image credit: "Danish butter cookies in container with wrappers, December 2009" by Constantin Barbu – originally posted to Flickr as Cookies. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)