Hosting Harvest Festivals at your church can be a fun and strategic way to provide a safe place for kids of all ages to come and have fun. It is also a great alternative to celebrating Halloween for those churches who would rather steer away from any Halloween party. But what all goes into a Harvest Party or Harvest Festival? Why should we host one? Who puts it all together? What activities and games should there be? How do we show God’s love during this event? If these are questions that overwhelm you and inhibit you from hosting a gathering at your church, you can take a deep breath. It’s easier than it sounds, and you can do this!
Let’s start with the two main reasons to host a Harvest Festival.
Engage families in your church
Nearly every church wants their members to be more engaged. Hosting a harvest festival allows many different ways church families can get involved. Ask members to drop off bags of candy in the weeks leading up to the festival. This is the easiest way to stimulate engagement because it does not require a lot of time. Another way is to start asking around the church for names of people who may be crafty and then encourage those people to get involved. If someone were to address you and brag on your skills, you would be a lot more interested in helping rather than hearing that they need help from the pulpit. Other strategic ways include creating a sign up sheet for volunteers and visiting each class on Sunday mornings to make sure everyone is in the know about your event and volunteer opportunities. Perhaps even visit the children’s classes and ask them if they can help make decorations as a class. Creating scripture focused decorations can be a great opportunity for kids to not only learn scripture but also help with your Harvest Festival decorations too.
Engage families in your community
The point of a Harvest Festival is not just to have an alternative option for your church members to celebrate Halloween. The main purpose is to provide another way for people to encounter Jesus and experience his greatness and love. Creating an opportunity outside of a traditional Sunday morning for people to enter your Church doors is a strategic way to draw people in. Make it your mission to invite as many people in the community as possible to join you at your Harvest Festival. One way to increase the number of people coming through the doors is to provide each student with cards they can hand out to their friends to invite them to come. Another way is to challenge your church members to invite anyone and everyone to join in on the fun. Going even further, posting marketing messages across town is definitely a good idea to get the word out about your Harvest Festival, but is there anything else you can do to spark interest? Of course! Gather your church staff and begin praying over a specific ministry or organization in your community that you could donate money to. Once you identify and inform a ministry, start spreading the word that the money raised at your Harvest Festival will be donated to them. You can also reach out to local businesses to ask if they would want to help sponsor your event. This not only engages your local community but also helps with the financial piece of the festival. Not only will you have your church members spreading the word, you’ll also have the help of those you target in the community to help draw people to your festival.
Now that we have established the two important reasons to host a Harvest Festival, what are you supposed to do this night? Who puts it together? What activities should there be? How do you make sure people understand the purpose of this event is to show God’s love and not just to get candy and have fun? These are great questions to ask! Let’s tackle these one by one.
Who puts it together?
Before your brain spins in too many circles and you just call it quits, let me take a minute to make sure you know you do not have to do it all. Did you hear those words? You do not have to do it all! One or two people putting together a Harvest Festival for an entire community sounds exhausting. One way to alleviate this stress is to delegate to each ministry at your church. Inform each ministry that they are in charge of an activity station at your Harvest Festival. Each ministry should come up with an activity or game along with anything they might need to make it successful, even down to how many volunteers are needed. Some churches even make it a challenge between different ministries to see who can make the best activity. The night of the Harvest Festival, they will have a voting station so that attendees can vote on their favorite part of the night. The winning ministry can be rewarded with a prize of lunch, coffee or another fun way to encourage them to go big or go home. By entrusting each ministry to develop an activity or game, you not only provide an opportunity to have more activities for kids to do, but you also provide an easy way for people to get to know the various ministries in your church. Make sure each ministry has a way for people to learn more about what they do so they can easily get more involved. This is also a great way to spotlight what God’s been doing through those ministries too.
What activities should there be?
There should be activities for toddlers to 18-year-olds. For younger kids, you can put together climbing blocks, painting stations with safe paints, sticker booths, etc. When it comes to the older kids, more creativity can be implemented. Here are a few ideas:
- Apple bobbing station
- Life-size Jenga game
- Balloon dart throw
- Bean bag goss (or Corn Hole for those Midwesterners out there)
- Biblical scavenger hunt
- Potato sack race
- Egg carry competition
- Jewerly making station
- Human maze (Great idea if you have farmers in your congregation that could help supply hay bales or other items to make this happen!)
- Scripture memorizing contest
Whatever the activity you choose, make sure each activity has a way to incorporate the message of Jesus or scripture throughout. Even down to handing out a prize with a verse can be used by God in mighty ways.
How do you make sure people understand the purpose of this event is to show people God’s love and not just to get candy and have fun?
To answer this question simply, you can’t. But the good news is that God can. The only thing you can do in the weeks leading up to this festival and even the night of is to cover it with prayer, love well while people play games, be intentional with getting to know those who come, and provide various pieces throughout the night that people can take home and be reminded of the Lord’s goodness. Whether it be the Gospel laid out in a pamphlet form or even a craft a child made while attending the festival, God can use anything and everything to draw people to himself. We cannot save anyone, but God can save everyone. We are just servants who move faithfully forward trusting God as He leads the way.
Hopefully this has inspired you to plan a fun Harvest Festival for your church families and community. As you begin to make plans, remember the purpose behind hosting anything at your church is to create another opportunity for people to experience God. Even as you read this article, begin praying for those families who will enter the doors of your church and ask the Lord to show you how to love them well so that his glory can be seen.