Holiday clubs – building faith through fun
For the past 10 years, Matt Beckett has worked for the Fountain of Life Church and Kidz Klub Mid Norfolk, in Ashill and has been involved in running their annual summertime holiday club. He shares his and others' experience of organising these fun faith-filled events.
I was eight-years-old when I had my first taste of a “holiday club”. It was the Easter holidays and I was at my grandparents’ house. The Rainbow Club was filled with games, prizes and a daily Bible story, and on the final day a make-your-own-clay-egg competition. The fried egg I cheekily made still resides in my parents’ house! Egg jokes aside, I lapped up every second, not knowing that one day I would be running clubs exactly like this one.
For five consecutive days in the summer holiday, we host children, from the schools we visit, for two hours of fun, games and laughter, as well as a thought or story from the Bible. We aim to make our mornings fast-paced and fun. Often the alternative for them is kids’ TV, so we try to emulate that wacky and messy style and bring a live-action fun that, simultaneously, entertains and engages.
Whilst the morning is filled with fun, games and craft we also make quieter times to help the children explore a biblical story or theme. Whilst even the wacky parts of the morning may point to our theme, we use these quiet times to help the children see how the Bible both applies and affects their lives today. In these more faith-focused parts of the morning, children can participate to a level that they are comfortable with. As we model worship and prayer, we often find children taking their first steps in their own faith journey.
You may have participated in something akin to the five-morning formula, with fun, games and a biblical heart. But maybe my morning doesn’t quite match your personality or strengths. Maybe adjectives like wacky and messy don’t fill you with as much excitement as it might for me!
Alison Ball, curate in the Chet Valley Benefice, has organised holiday clubs for over 12 years. Her clubs are similar in style to ours: one week in the summer holiday, advertised through schools and other ministries in the church, but that does not mean the content is the same. Included are activities like cooking and storytelling, playing to the strength of her team. Like myself, Alison believes that “Holiday club is a non-threatening way of introducing the Bible and its themes to those that attend.” The backbones and structure of our clubs look similar, but they differ due to the skill set of her team.
Another style of holiday club is borne out of the location a church finds itself in. Norfolk has a beautiful coastline and many churches using this natural resource for a special type of holiday club: a beach mission!
Simon Fenn, Head of Mission at Cromer Church, has run “typical” holiday clubs, but 2020 sees his team excited for “recapturing the classical beach mission approach!” Simon’s simple missional approach is “as people get to know us; they get to know God because Jesus lives in us.”
To that end, Simon desires to make this year’s beach mission as fun and frivolous as possible, not just for attendees, but for the team as well. Barriers, between the church and its local community, can be torn down with fun and laughter.
Across the Diocese of Norwich, there are great examples of churches supporting their communities, through effective missional activities, during school holidays. Anna Heydon is part of the team at St. Magdalene Church in Gorleston. During the summer holidays, they run Families at Mary Mag (FAM). She explains: “FAM provides a hot meal and activities for children, including sports and crafts.” Similar initiatives across Norfolk are providing food and community for many in-need families. Anna and the team have built many positive relationships in the community, by providing respite at a time that many families may struggle with the added financial pressure the holidays bring.
With so much variety for your church to explore, as summer approaches, let your location, skill set, and community give you insight into the right club to run. Remember there’s plenty of resources here to help you.
Scripture Union still produces wonderful holiday club materials that guide you in running a “traditional” holiday club. TLG’s Make Lunch programme can help you feed families in need and places like The Sports Factory could help inspire activities in your community.
And don’t forget, every school holiday you will find that Norwich Cathedral’s doors are open. They create places where families have fun together, based on an informal Christian background, while building relationships with the Cathedral team.
So what role are you going to play? With such a variety of holiday club styles being implemented so successfully across the Diocese, I would encourage you to ask yourself that question. Skillset, age, gender, there is no disqualifier from involvement in any form of holiday club. Whether on the floor with the children, in the kitchen cooking, bringing a specific talent to entertain the kids, all would be welcome to join in, because to reach a family we, as the church, need to act as a family. Holiday clubs were a building block in the journey that brought me to faith. You can help cement those blocks in the hearts of children this summer too.
5 TOP TIPS
- Be prepared – plan early! Invite team and guests in plenty of time.
- Build Relationships – holiday clubs can be building blocks for a family’s faith.
- Play to your strengths – use the skills your team has to provide a quality club.
- Serve your surroundings – are there specific community needs you can meet?
- Have Fun – if your team enjoys what they do so will your guests!
Contact Matt Beckett at Fountain of Life Church on 01760 441902 or email@example.com
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