After attending last year’s Neighborhood Collective Gathering in Longmont, several of our staff came away with a desire to replace some of the labor intensive children’s programs with something more impactful and neighborhood oriented.

For many years we have had a Fall Fest right before Halloween. All the children stay after church for a lunch, lots of games and opportunities to “earn” candy. The staff was exhausted following the event. No friends of children came because, well, it was right after church.  No neighbors came because nobody specifically invited them. Parents weren’t particularly invested in it and admitted that they often threw away the candy because the kids had too much after all the parties and Trick or Treating.

This year we replaced the Fall Fest with: Trick or Treat for Those in Need.  The weekend before Halloween each child was encouraged to invite a neighborhood friend to come with them, grab a wagon, and collect non-perishables to be donated to a local food pantry.  They wore their costumes (dry run).  The kids were so excited it was difficult to get them to stop. Wagonloads were collected, neighbors gave generously. Results were remarkable!

Neighbors praised the children and said they were “doing a good thing.”

The children learned to put their energy into an activity for the benefit of others.

The children also commented on how kind and generous the neighbors were. They brought out bags full of food. (Well, how can you say “no” to super heroes and princesses?)

We gave out flyers explaining who we were and where the food was going – a great way to reveal our church’s values. And the Children’s Ministry Staff were rested.

 

Judy Jorden is the Director of Community Outreach, Family in Christ Church, Westminster, CO

Shifting Paradigms and Plans after Neighborhood Collective