Head over to ChristianToday and you will find a helpful article about Holiday Clubs. Read it and you should feel affirmed if you are still recovering from running a Holiday Club . . . or, it will inspire and motivate you to make one happen. Read it here.
The article from Martin Saunders highlights four great reasons to do one – it’s accessible to the local community; it brings the body of the church together (all ages, which is great!); young people can get involved in serving (the backbone of clubs I’ve run!); it give you a great opportunity to tell children about Jesus.
All of that is superb.
I would make a plea though . . . don’t leave it there!
Making a children’s holiday club part of your mission plan (in fact, making anything part of your mission plan should be about developing and growing the church in a holistic way that seeks to engage people all year round – for something to be part of a plan, it needs to feed in to and be shaped by what you are already doing . . . but also where you want to be heading).
So, I’m just going to add a few observations from running my own holiday clubs and supporting churches who run them over the last couple of decades.
What is the usual diet of worship and engagement for children in your church? Stuff vaguely happens each Sunday morning via a rota of leaders the kids don’t really know. Then, suddenly (with 9 months of planning) a dedicated team who are well resourced with profile, equipment, budget and the full support of the church family leap in to action for a week.
The Holiday Club is exciting and dynamic, with worship, decent crafts, prayer, drama and great fun . . . this is our “mission week” for kids lets give it everything we have!
The Shock of “Church”.
WOW – look how we can engage with children when we really put our minds to it! The kids might be thinking, “I didn’t think church could be like this” .
They have so enjoyed meeting the team, other kids, having fun, getting stuck in with stuff they may never have done – praying for the first time, listening with interest to the good news Jesus brings.
They give your regular Junior church a try – and never come back.
30 Years and Still Going Strong.
St Ethel’s have a tiny weekly Junior Church, but faithfully run a Holiday Club for 80 – 100 children every year.
Imagine if your church had been running Alpha for 30 years (yep, back before it even started you were running a “discover Christianity” thing for adults) with – lets say, 60 on it each year. That’s pretty good. Now, what if over those 30 years of maybe working with well over 1000 people 2 or 3 had decided to join you regularly. Not 2 or 3 a year, but 2 or 3 in total. They don’t need to bother with pitching up regularly, because they know that you will run this great course introducing them to Jesus all over again next year . . .
I have supported some churches who have run holiday clubs for years – in fact, they could teach the publishers of Holiday Club material a thing or two about what works and doesn’t work – they know clubs inside out.
They are great at running Holiday clubs. For some, it IS their work with children.
So then – what to do? Well, let’s look at them again.
Challenge the Status Quo.
Our ministry to children should not lurch from “nothing much happens” to “pulling out all the stops” and back again. Filling the church with children, young people willing to serve and families coming along at an end of club celebration who we never normally see SHOULD make us ask some tough questions.
Why don’t we normally see kids this excited about being here?
Why can we get team for Holiday Club but not for weekly activities?
Why do we provide a great worship band with accessible songs for children and family at Holiday Club that we would never use in regular church services?
Why does it have to be like this?
It doesn’t. Allow the momentum of a great Holiday Club to spill over in to regular worship . . . what needs to be jettisoned to make what we do altogether more engaging? How can we be more inclusive to those who might visit? Allow the momentum of a great Holiday Club spill over in to how you think about recruiting team . . . how can we offer training and support to volunteers the way we do in Holiday Club all the time? Allow the momentum of a great Holiday Club to spill over in to who is involved in leading and serving . . . how can we see young people more involved in creating our worship services?
The Continuity of “Holiday Club.”
Having pulled out all the stops to create a WOW, don’t return to the normal “is this it?” stuff. You have expectant visitors who might turn up the Sunday after a Holiday Club looking for the great games, excitement, action and songs only to discover . . . something else.
What ONE thing from a Holiday Club could be incorporated in regular Sunday morning groups with children? How did the structure work – could you look at the shape of Sunday mornings and tweak the timings? It doesn’t need to be HUGE, but include something from the Holiday Club that will be a bit of familiarity for any visitors who got their first taste of Church from Holiday Club.
30 Years? Let’s start something!
It might be that you’ve been wanting to get a midweek kids club going for ages . . . but it has felt too challenging or impossible – but you have just pulled off an amazing Holiday Club and the atmosphere in the church has shifted. Maybe the church hasn’t had a vision for it, but now they’ve seen the church full of kids you’ve got their backing.
Regular is better than frequent – if frequent means exhausting hard-pressed volunteers and you end up doing a flop of a thing once a month. Maybe you could do something once a month? Maybe you could make it about families and not just children and kick off a Messy Church? What’s GREAT about that is all the associated resources and support you would get from – what is now – a near global movement.
If we are serious about mission with mission with children and families, it is not enough to run an annual Holiday Club and think “that’s it”.
So much more could be happening that transforms the church and its engagement with children and families in your community. That great Holiday Club you’ve just run could be the catalyst for change.