One of the tips I think Children’s Ministries can take from schools is throwing an Open House. I think there’s something cool about families being able to come and check out your ministry, meet you and their kid’s leaders, without the normal rushing of check-in and check out. Our team did our first Open House a few months ago and really liked it. Here’s what we did to make it a great experience for us and our church’s families:
Make it for the whole family
The big win for us was making it a night for the family. Whether you had a 2-year-old or a 20-year-old we made it open to the whole family. This wasn’t just for mom and dad. Kids brought their parents, brothers, sisters, and some even their grandparents. It was a great time for us to meet the entire family and for the entire family to meet us.
Do it right after schools do theirs
We did ours a few weeks after most of our local schools did theirs. We did this to keep the “Back to School” momentum that comes with fall. A lot of our families tend to check out during summer, so for some of them August & September can become “Back to School & Church.” As a pastor I’m not always super jazzed about that, but that seems to be how it is. So we try to leverage that to help families get connected.
Make it light on program and heavy on relationships
Our Open House was just that: Open. Families could come and go anytime between 5 – 7pm. There was no message. No skits. Just our staff and volunteers hanging out to talk and brag on parents’ kids. It was very simple and laid back. Our families liked that A LOT.
Have food and something fun for kids to do
We didn’t provide dinner but we did have free desserts, drinks, and snacks for everyone. We also had some activities families could do together and kids could do on their own while parents were talking with their child’s leaders.
Get as many leaders there as possible
Like with everything else we do we couldn’t get all of our leaders there. And that’s OK. We did make sure to get a good portion of our leaders there. Some parents were frustrated by this, but most seemed to understand. There were still other staff they could talk to and ask questions of as well as some other things they could check out, that I’ll talk more about later.
I’ll post Part 2 in my next post. In the mean time I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve ever done something like this what did you do that worked well? What did you do that didn’t work so well?