Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Just Water? Means of Grace Event

My regular readers may have noticed that my posts for the past few months have been more serious and less program-oriented than this blog began. I'd like to go back to sharing some programming tips and options for church workers, but rather than sharing ideas for demographic-specific programs, these programs will be more in line with my constantly developing philosophy for family life ministry.

With this in mind, today I begin a new three-part series on how to cover the Means of Grace through family events. Topic one: Baptism!

Photo credit:
Objective: To teach the meaning of the sacrament of baptism through an intergenerational event themed around water

Advertising: Get the news out in whatever way works best for your congregation and community--and in as many ways as possible! Have a bulletin insert, put up flyers in the church and community, announce it during your worship service announcement times, and make sure your advertising begins several weeks in advance! Highlight the games and learning opportunities that will be provided. An advertisement could say, "Is baptism Just Water? What's the deal with it? Join us for a family fun and learning event filled with water games, a lesson, and small group discussion on baptism!"

Games and activities: Any water-based games and activities will do. You can host your event on congregational property, go to a public park, or rent a facility. Below are some options based on event size and finances, but feel free to mix and match based on your demographics and budget.
  • High budget/large group ($1000+ or 100+ attendees)
    • Rent out a pool, beach, or water park for a few hours/a day
    • Rent a dunk tank, inflatable water slide, and/or inflatable slip n' slide (prices may vary by location)
  • Medium budget/medium group ($500-999 or 50-99 attendees)
    • Sprinklers
    • Slip n' slide
    • Backyard pool party (only an option if someone in the congregation has a backyard pool they are willing to open for the event)
  • Low budget/small group (Less than $500, less than 50 attendees)
    • Water balloon toss
    • Leaking bucket relay (video example here)
    • Water limbo (instead of a bar, use a hose!)
Lesson planning tips:
  • Should be led by a respected and theologically-trained member of the congregation--ideally an ordained or commissioned staff member (Ex. Pastor, Director of Christian Education, Director of Family Life Ministries, commissioned teachers, etc.)
  • Should be understandable for your youngest listeners but not so juvenile as to lose the interest of teens and adults. To this end,
    • Use concrete examples whenever possible
    • Consider incorporating humor
  • Should not exceed fifteen minutes in length (young children will probably lose focus after the first five minutes)
  • Some Scripture options include:
    • 1 Peter 3:21
    • Mark 16:16
    • Romans 6:1-10
    • John 3:1-5
  • Luther's Small Catechism is a great guide for directing your lesson plan
Small group discussion:
  • Choose the demographics you would like your small groups to be. You can separate the groups by
    • Families
    • Ages
    • Gender
    • Random assignment
  • Assign each group a leader. These leaders should have training on the issue, be old enough to teach (I recommend 18+, at least), and be comfortable leading a group of potentially varied ages.
  • Provide each group leader with discussion questions based on the lesson.
  • Sample questions:
    • Is baptism a symbol? Why or why not?
    • What has to be used for a baptism?
    • Who can do a baptism?
    • Who should be baptized?
Keep in mind:
  • Be aware of attire regulations and ensure that these regulations are shared with attendees BEFORE the event. (You may also choose to provide swimsuit covers or t-shirts for attendees that come unprepared for the regulations.)
  • Consequences for inappropriate behavior should be determined ahead of time and shared at the beginning of the event.
  • Providing water and a shaded cool-down area will help prevent attendees from dehydrating and overheating.
  • Be aware of your church's insurance requirements, as well as the requirements of any outside facilities you may be using.
Sample schedule 1:
1:00 Opening, welcome, and prayer. Detail schedule, rules, and consequences. Separate into teams if desired.
1:10 Water balloon toss
1:30 Activity 2
1:45 Activity 3
2:00 Lesson
2:15 Small group discussion
2:30 Open activity time
3:00 Close

Sample schedule 2:
1:00 Opening, welcome, and prayer. Detail schedule, rules, and consequences.
1:10 Open activity time
2:30 Lesson
2:45 Small group discussion
3:00 Close

If you use the tips here, have other ideas, or want further clarification and assistance planning, let me know! I'd love to hear how your event went and what advice you'd give to others incorporating the same sort of program.

Next week will cover a similar event discussing Communion!

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