Summer 2020 we were shooting from the hip when it came to family ministry programming. While everyone was trying to figure out what in the world was going to happen next, we were throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick so that our families did not grow accustomed to doing life without us. Not even focused on content, we were focused on connection. Not even focused on the delivery, we were focused on a reliable and consistent weekly celebration of Jesus, no matter what, which was developmentally appropriate for littles and worth leaving air-conditioning for adults. With all the safety protocols and boundaries given, we rolled out a weekly drive-in service for littles with bigs in the vehicle. Families are the ultimate small group, so we gave them tools and practice to lead their littles in the holy habits of prayer, Bible reading, sacred conversation, and play. It was crazy fun, memory sticky, and fruitful in growing our reach to our community with multiple new families now part of our church family. Insert the confetti cannons!

When it came time to plan for Summer 2021 we chose to continue riding the wave of fruitful connection and revisit the weekly drive-ins. We had time to plan and make deeper connections into the other ministries of the church. 

Updates, edits, and ‘jacking it up’ looks like this:

Visual elements to resemble a VBS-look and feel
* Car lot vinyl balloons lining the parking lot ‘stage’ (it’s a sidewalk) and “Welcome” feather flags in blue and red lining the main road, all assembled by a small group of retired engineers. Lightweight enough so that the 4th & 5th grade Ambassadors could safely set up.
* Wild blue air dancer found in the consignment sale closet.
* Winshape-Camp-welcome for extreme hospitality with hula hoops, pool noodles, people, noise, and signs.
* Tshirts and McEachern Kids aprons for everyone serving.

Bold Follow-up
Registration forms are on paper asking for family name, how many in the vehicle, and an email address. We roll around a huge trash can/basketball net for kids to wad up their forms and toss them in before they depart which is another opportunity for personal interaction. If we get the form, we get the email. If we get the email, we get an invite to communicate. We will communicate the next morning by asking questions and trying to make a new friend. The Walk to Emmaus teaches ‘make a friend, be a friend, introduce a friend to Christ.’ Especially in this season of post-covid, people are looking for new friends so I’m looking to make new friends. Friends share life and know their kids by name. We’ll chat almost weekly because that’s what new friends do.

Entire summer theme: We Are Family
Yep, think Sister Sledge which is our ‘everyone assume your positions, we’re starting’ song. Each week we’ll honor and recognize a member of the family with a ministry connection taking place within the next two weeks for a ‘check us out’ opportunity.

First week we honored the girls and women in our families. The Bible story was Baby Moses who had his mama Jochebed who trusted the Lord, his sister Miriam who was brave, and the Pharaoh’s daughter who showed compassion. We chalked the parking lot with the names of the amazing girls and women in our families. We also scheduled a Paint & Praise Party to take place the following Tuesday evening for any little person who brings a big person with them. Not a drop off, but rather a true ‘let’s paint and praise the Lord together’ event for all ages. 

The second week drive-in we will honor our senior saints so we invited our senior saints choir (who would’ve been singing at nursing homes, but can’t) to lead our music. Just heard from them they’ll be at the drive-ins all summer long…because they want to sing and they want to be together. Because we’ve already set the song list with YouTube videos with motions, those have been shared with all the members of our Joyful Singers.

It poured down rain during our first service. Our team still showed up and showed off in hospitality, dance, and story from the covered Gaga Ball pit and in the rain. Families still came. The second service was dry and we played games with beach balls and laundry baskets because families working together can accomplish anything. Families still came.  More than fifty in attendance…in the rain!

With the goals of connection and reliable celebration, we practice being a family of faith. We laugh. And we dance!

What are your goals for the summer?

“He said to the crowd: ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does.'” Luke 12:54