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How to run an evangelistic holiday club

By its broadest definition, an evangelistic holiday club is an event (hopefully fun and action packed!) held within the school holidays that allows you to share the gospel with children and young people. Beyond this, the size, duration, activities and teaching can be tailored to your individual circumstances.

First things first…

Prayer: This is the first place to start the planning and preparation of your evangelistic holiday club. Incorporate this into the very heart of your planning and during each day of the holiday club itself. Consider putting together a prayer diary or prayer room during the holiday club for those who are not directly involved. Remember that ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’ (Psalm 127:1).

‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’

It is an old cliché, but so true when planning an event of this nature. A large part of the smoothness of the week and the enjoyment of the kids and volunteers rests on good planning. Planning such an evangelistic holiday club can be daunting, so you might consider gathering a couple of people to help you coordinate the planning and delivery of the event.

The aim: Before launching into the planning and delivery of a holiday club, it is essential to begin your preparation by asking what it is you are seeking to achieve. Is it a one-off event or will it be followed up with a weekly club during the rest of the year? Are you intending to make new contacts in your community or build on existing ones? Answering these key questions will influence the content of your club and how it is run as well as helping you to plan, evaluate and follow up your holiday club.

The basics: Decide who the holiday club is aimed at: pre-school, primary or secondary-aged kids? If you have the resources, go for the whole lot! When will the holiday club take place? Setting the date well in advance enables ample time to pray, recruit volunteers who might need to book annual leave and promote the event. Where will the event be held: in your church, on the local housing estate, in a local community centre? How long will it run for?

The team: Recruiting leaders is imperative in making your holiday club happen. Start this process as soon as possible as this alone can be an arduous task. All volunteers will need to have a DBS check if they haven’t already had one. Consider asking people who are not usually involved in your children/youth programme. It is worth noting down people’s gifting and interests when they sign up, as this will help later on when delegating roles and responsibilities.

The teaching: An evangelistic holiday club will have a time where the Bible is explained through storytelling, drama, etc. Choose your passage, story or theme (Parables of Jesus, the ‘I Am’s’ of Jesus or the Salvation story are good ones) and plan fun ways of teaching your children/youth. It is worth doing any up-front teaching in the middle of the day as this allows leaders the chance to follow up on any questions the kids may have afterwards.

The activities: It may sound obvious but, when planning your activities, think of things the children and young people will like to do. This can range from football to a trip to a local beach. Think as creatively as you can using the space and team you have. It is great if you are able to reinforce your teaching through the activities of drama, craft, cooking and games. You might want to delegate the planning of activities to other people/teams so that you have a specific person(s) leading craft, cooking, etc.

The training: Volunteers need to know what is expected of them. Arrange a training day to go through the programme, any policies you may have (child protection, health and safety) as well as practical pointers on handling difficult behaviour and starting evangelistic conversations with kids and parents. If you choose to put people into activity teams i.e. sport, arts and craft, etc. then take the opportunity to do it at this point. Everyone should leave the training day knowing what they are doing and what is expected of them.

Some tips…

If you have not run an evangelistic event before, it can be hard to imagine what the actual event will look like. There are some tips to help you plan your event. Resources may mean you are not able to achieve all of these things so please adapt and adjust to your own specific situation. This is meant to kick-start your own ideas.

Separation: It does prove beneficial to separate children into older (secondary) and younger (primary) groups. This means that activities and talks can be targeted to specific age groups and is likely to reduce the big kids dominating activities. It might be that you have primary children upstairs and secondary children downstairs or primary children on-site and secondary children off-site. Also, you may want to consider separating boys and girls. This will depend on resources but may be worthwhile, especially if working with Muslim children.

Daily timetable: Having a set timetable of the day helps everyone know what is happening and when. Consider something like the one below:

9:15–10:00 Prayer, Praise and Planning

10:00–10:30 Activity team meetings and set-up

10:30–12:00 Activities (e.g. sport, cooking, singing, dance)

12:00–12:30 Bible talk

12:30–1:30 Lunch for volunteers

1:30–2:00 Activity team meetings and set-up

2:00–4:00 Activities (sport, craft, workshops)

4:00–4:30 Pack away

4:30–5:00 Debrief and prayer

Show some love: Be under no illusions as to just how rewarding yet tiring an evangelistic holiday club can be for those volunteering. Make sure you show volunteers how appreciated they are. Kind words, a nice lunch, good cake and an ice pop go a long way when volunteers are tired or have had a frazzled session.

Jenny Bollans

This article was originally published in 2010 for A Passion For Life’s Ideas for Mission.