Actually I do care what you call it. Don’t call it “Rally Day;” that’s times-gone-by phraseology. Also skip using the word “meeting” in the title. ”Parents/youth meeting”-who wants to get excited about that?
I’m really on my soap box this week about the kick-off principle for small churches for the upcoming school year. I’ve spent a lot of time coaching smaller churches this summer (through Ministry Architects) and I know that most small churches have to dial things down a bit in summer programming. VBS is usually the BIG program of the summer and consumes a lot of the focused energy to pull it off. (I’m hearing WONDERFUL VBS reports out there from my small church friends, btw).
So the reason for a Fall Kick-Off? Let the church and community know the #uthmin is back in business for the school year. In fact, make it about both the #uthmin and #kidsmin. Generate excitement! Get people around your church thinking that something’s happening “over there” and they don’t want to miss it.
Ten Tips for a Long-Yardage Kick-Off:
1) Make it a Family-Thing: You want parents to attend for reasons below. You want kids to attend for different reasons below.
2) Include a Volunteer Sign-Up Fair: Get your volunteer needs for the year together and ask parents to sign up for at least three things.
3) Get Fresh Contact Info and Permission Slips: Use the yearly permission slip type forms. Gather new contact info to print a youth directory.
4) Hand Out 2013/2014 YM/CM calendars: Yes, that means you have to plan ahead. But it also means you’ll start seeing better numbers because parents know about key stuff farther in advance. They don’t like last minute.
5) Intro Next Summer’s Trips: Get parents and youth excited about the trips next summer…so they’ll get more invested in the fundraisers that have to happen beforehand.
7) Share the Teaching Themes Schedule: Parents either want to know (or need to learn that its important to know) what their youth are learning at church. How can they carry on the discussion if its a well-kept secret? (Or planned about 10 minutes before youth begins on a Sunday night?)
8) Have Games for the Children: Entertain the children at the kick-off. Its not just for “fun” sake; you want them to have a picture of why they want to be in the youth group when they get older. Churches are starting to lose kids in 3rd-5th grades.
9) Give Away Stuff: What if you had a drawing from all the families who brought their student’s trip deposits and the winner got their deposit back? Imagine how far ahead you’d be if fams were motivated to get the money in? Also, if you give away door prizes, its another way to get current contact info from “guest families” who might be hanging around checking out your ministries. Then you have info to follow up!
10) Make it Fun: Give it a theme! Decorate! Be sure the food fits the theme. Do some silly fashion show stuff that will attract people to come. Show videos of the past summer’s event. Make it a VBS reunion for all the guests you had. Let them see what your fall programming looks like and give them a reason to want to come back! Your best “go-to” for theme supplies is orientaltrading.com.
Want more details? Here’s the link to a full out Fall Kick-Off Game Plan: http://ymarchitects.com/137/samples