Family Night Idea for Your Church: “Family Connect”

On a Sunday morning when I was the Children’s Pastor at our church, two dads of kids in our children’s ministry bumped into each other in the foyer.  Now, before I go on, let me say that at the time we were a medium sized church (about 450 people), so not everybody knew everybody else.  But most “regular attenders” were familiar with one another.

“Who Are You?”

One of these two dads in the foyer had been regularly attending for over 5 years.  The other, for at least a year.  When they bumped into one another, they had never met before.  I witnessed this interaction as they introduced themselves to each other for the first time.  The 5-year guy even made the mistake of saying, “are you new here?”  Then the 1-year guy had to say, “no, we’ve been coming for about a year now.”

The Predicament

I explained this predicament to my wife in the car ride home that afternoon and we brainstormed together about it.  We decided there needed to be some way to connect families with one another.  Parents need the friendship and support of other parents who are going through the similar life challenge of raising kids.  But they can’t start that relationship if they don’t know one another.

“Family Connect”

So we came up with something called “Family Connect.”  It is just a one-night event, so it is not designed to answer all the issues that parents need.  It is simply an “entry-level” event to help families connect, have fun, and get to know one another.  The goal is that relationships are fostered and will continue to grow further so families can minister to one another.

It went off as a super hit with our families.  We expected 75 people and about 125 showed up (out of a church of 450).  And the format was simple:

  • We threw the party on a Friday night from 6:30pm-8:30pm.
  • Families with kids from birth through 18 were invited.
  • The event was completely free to all who attended.
  • The party snacks were freshly popped popcorn (in one of those carnival machines), drinks, and ice cream sundaes (yes, we sugared them up).
  • We organized an evening of DJ music and large group games led by a team of high-energy college-age kids (blue team versus red team).  Not everyone had to participate in the group games, but you at least had to cheer on your team!
  • We had giveaways throughout the night (I got a stack of free coupons from a local self-serve yogurt shop that wanted to support our Family Connect Night).
  • We simply called it “Family Connect.”

Everyone spoke highly about the event and it seemed to do really well at helping people laugh, connect, and have fun together.  Oh, and those two dads and their families know each other now….

Try it at your church in your family / children’s ministry department and let me know how it goes!

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.

4 thoughts on “Family Night Idea for Your Church: “Family Connect””

  1. Jesse, I like this idea and I think I will try to pitch it to Michelle at the church (she was the lady who played the piano) and I think I will try to do a Karaoke night for the church and for them to get to know one another. If you have any suggestions let me know.
    Love Ya Nephew,

  2. Great idea Jesse! We’ve done a parent date night where we provide free childcare while the parents go on a date. Parents connect as they pick up their kids. There is something special that happens when parents connect with each other outside of Sunday mornings. This event is probably one of our most well attended and it strengthens marriages.

  3. What kind of large group games did your families participate in? I’m trying to come up with some family events, but am struggling with fun game ideas.

    1. Kevin,

      One great game that is good for all ages and large groups at the same time is called “Bring Me This”. I have another post that describes it here

      We split the large group up into red team and blue team. The red team was families with last names A-J and the blue team was families with last names K-Z. If you find that the numbers are off a little with your group, then just move a few families around to make it even. This made it fun to have two large teams competing against one another.

      Another large group game you can do with two large teams of all ages is the hula hoop pass-through. Each team must make a circle by holding hands. Then you start a hula hoop in between two people holding hands and the teams race to see which team can get the hula hoop around the circle before the other team. You are not allowed to let go of the hands of the people next to you, so moving the hula hoop requires a little wiggling and creative maneuvering.

      I hope those two ideas help. Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a great family night!


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