4 Valentine's Day Outreach Ideas to TurboCharge Your Children's Ministry
Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated on the ides of February, the 14th, and first celebrated in the United States through an exchange of '“valentines” in the mid-1700’s. It’s history dates all the way back to the days of the Roman Empire, in which several theories abound as to who and why the day was originally recognize. One of the agreed upon components of the story is that the holiday was first sanctioned by Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. Since then, it has been celebrated amongst Christians as a romantic time for lovers.
However, its institution also paved the way for an opportunity to give an alternative to a similar pagan holiday celebrated at the same time to help women who struggled with infertility within the Roman Empire. Today, this holiday is marked by greeting card companies, jewelry companies, and chocolate. Romance, sensuality, and a clearly defined expectation to be with the one we love the most has defined mid-February.
One of the aspects of this holiday that is incredibly valuable in Children’s Ministry happens to be the fact that it centers on one of the most important and unique aspects of the Christian faith. Love! I was thinking through some of the ideas that could be used to spread love through local children’s ministries that would have low cost and serve as great opportunities to teach our children how to love others. Here are some fun ideas to think about for your local church.
Write Cards to Shut-Ins and Widow/ers within the church, or in a local Nursing Facility.
My mom works in an assisted living facility and talks about the impact that any act of love, or kindness has on the population. She talks about how a local elementary school took time in the fall to write to the residents and the overflow of gratitude that came as a result. Many of these individuals are forgotten people in our society as well as within their own family structures. I am the chaplain at one such facility and I hear the story of pain and hurt from these folks as they talk about how their family abandoned them.
Because of this, partnering with a facility, or working with the care ministry in your own church would be an awesome opportunity to show love to people who need it the most. The idea is simple. Small group leaders, or Sunday school teachers can have older children write a note to the person they are given. They can either be given a specific person they are writing to, or they can be large batch notes written that are given to individuals. The younger children, or kids who are uncomfortable with writing a note can illustrate the cards. This is a great way to combat a felt need that directly impacts a great group of people.
2. Children’s offering during the month of February being donated to a local women’s shelter.
This is another population of individuals that is largely forgotten and unfortunately even at times ridiculed. Most churches collect within their Children’s Ministry an offering that is used for different things. Sometimes the offering is used to sponsor a child through Compassion, or another similar organization. Others use their offering to sponsor specific missionaries that are associated with the church. Still others have their offering go to the general ministries fund for the church. All of these are appropriate and good uses for the offering. However, this is an incredibly powerful and special way to teach children about how we give and help others who need our help. Also, giving to the poor, widow, and orphan is an incredibly biblical idea!
Roll out of this program is simple. Obviously, you will want to secure buy in from your senior leadership as well as from your finance committee, or person/group leading the finances for the church. Once you have secured buy-in, contact a local women’s shelter or a preferred ministry supporting woman in need. Children can write cards, families can send extra gifts if they so choose, and most importantly the love of Christ can be shared through little people.
3. Service Day for Families to Help the local school
One of my favorite relationships to foster within a community is with the local school district. While the church has children in their building on Wednesdays and Sundays, school have children Monday-Friday and sometimes even Saturdays for extra curricular events. This will be one of the most important relationships that can be fostered for a Children’s Ministry in a local church. One of my favorite ways to express love is to give others gifts. This is a way that as a church, you can meet a felt need immediately.
One way of doing this is to put together care bags for families that can be given out, at the schools discretion, to folks who need certain items. The service day can be put at the end of the month and the entire month can be spent collecting canned goods, toiletries, personal care items, school supplies, and anything else that the local school might suggest that are needs. Then, the children along with their families can put the bags together and deliver them to the school. This is a great project to love on your local school.
4. Write encouragement cards to families within the church who are adoption and foster families for children.
This is one of the most sensitive subjects within many local church ministries. How do we effectively minister to and provide support for families that are foster homes for children, or for parents who are in the process of adopting a child? This is a question that haunts many churches and what many times ends up happening is that we ignore either intentionally, or unintentionally these special families and people.
Perhaps the number one thing I hear from families such as these is that the most important thing they need are prayers and encouragement. So, allowing the children in our ministries to love them through cards seemed like a great way to show God’s love. Coordinating with your leadership will be incredibly helpful with this activity as they often know who these families are and will be able to help you tactfully navigate without offending families, or the children within your ministry. You do not want to embarrass anyone with this idea.
I can’t wait to see what many of you come up with for outreach opportunities within your local context. Valentine’s Day is a great holiday to show children what expressing tangible love to others can look like. Tag me in pictures on social media, or email me pictures of what you accomplished at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to see what happens this Valentine’s Day!