4 Low-Key Summer Ministry Ideas

Easing Back into Being Together

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Phew. We made it to the summer break!

But, now what?

As a parent and a children’s ministry coordinator, the last thing I want to do is ask more of myself and others when we’re at a low ebb. Yet, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to reconnect with our church families now that we have time and weather on our side!

Jesus did most of his ministry outdoors – along the roads, in the fields, and even on the beaches. Proximity created the opportunity for teaching, encouragement, and correction. There was no army of event-planners. He just showed up somewhere, and the people came to see him and hear what he had to say. Similarly, pop-up activities are low-commitment opportunities for families to reengage in community at their own pace and foster deeper relationships. These low-risk ideas all take place outdoors and even allow extra room for those of us who need more personal space than we did in 2019. Whether you’re a parent looking to reconnect with your church friends, or a children’s ministry leader, these ideas can be scaled up or down to meet your needs. Let us take full advantage of all our green spaces have to offer!

  • Park pop-ups: Let your families know the date, the playground, and the time – and they can come and go as they please. When selecting a park, consider if it is barrier-free, has open washrooms, and a splash pad. If your church is spread out geographically, select parks in different areas of the city. Try to choose one or two dates on a weekend to accommodate work schedules. Don’t be surprised if you have families asking to have these park pop-ups on a weekly basis. They tick all the boxes for a low-key summer activity.
  • Hike: Choose a trail or walking path, date, and time and get moving! This is a great weekend activity to allow families to spend time outdoors together. Again, consider accessibility and access to washrooms. Trail hikes might not be accessible to families with mobility issues or who rely on public transit, so try to plan at least one hike on a paved walking path in town.
  • Fun day at local beach or provincial park: You are just one Doodle Poll away from having a great beach day with your church family! Again, select a location and time slot but poll your families to see which date is the best option (www.doodle.com). Encourage families to bring picnic blankets and their own food for lunch or dinner. Bring along diverse activities and enjoy the day!
  • Local outdoor activity: It could be mini putt, a petting zoo, berry picking, an outdoor municipal pool, or anything in between. See what your city has to offer and get creative! Consider cost and potential subsidies, as well as accessibility, access to public transit and washrooms.

Tip: Remind parents in your email or post that public health guidelines should be followed for public spaces and using playground equipment. It’s also a good idea to always have hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray and extra bottles of water available.

The beauty of these events is they create both the proximity needed for relationships to flourish and the flexibility for families to transition into gatherings on their own terms. The diversity of activities, locations, dates, and times makes sure there is a variety of options, even if every activity isn’t feasible or close to the bus stop. So, what are you waiting for? If you plan it, they will come.

Darcie Dow is the Kidmax Coordinator at The Meeting House Ottawa. She is married to Keith, and homeschooling mom to Isaiah, Lucia, and Charity.