01 September 2017
By Jo Fletcher, Children and Family Worker, Bramhall Methodist Church
After another action-packed Summer term, have you found time for a relaxing break so far this holiday? Or have you been busy with planning and activities -has that all too familiar feeling of Fun Club madness set in once again?!
For many churches around the country, at this time of year we find ourselves pooling vast amounts of time and effort into hosting an annual holiday club for children from our own church as well as the local community. The clubs vary in size and form but there is one thing of which I have no doubt…they are all a huge amount of work!
I'm not sure what your stories look like but for the past few years our Fun Club has been on quite a journey, having swung from being a very popular and oversubscribed event with a well-established team of organisers, to one where each July we were starting to wonder whether we would have enough children to warrant its existence. The huge team of helpers which are required to run these events and the hours of work which go into planning the theme, messages, Bible stories, activities, safeguarding requirements and wellbeing of the children certainly poses a few interesting and challenging questions…
So why do we put ourselves through Fun Club madness each year for something that often ends up feeling like just a cheap babysitting service for our local communities? Is it possible that there may be more value to our annual Fun Club than we give ourselves credit for?
Let's start by looking at how church members frequently come together to make these projects happen. The army of volunteers required is quite something when you look at people who are drafted in to help with everything from looking after groups of children, running games, supervising the AV, organising craft activities and of course welcoming people through the doors each morning. Drawing on the gifts and talents of a very diverse group of individuals is, in my mind, what churches can do so well. There's a role and a place for everyone and what a fantastic witness that is.
Then there's the look of excitement and anticipation on the children's faces as they arrive at 10 o'clock each morning, ready to burst through the doors! I'll never forget the year one very grateful mum told me how her son had been quite nervous about his first ever Fun Club. She went on to say, "He came back after that first morning, absolutely full of it - he just couldn't wait to come back for more!" The fun, care, friendship and relationship building which we offer to the children who come along must surely make what we're doing worthwhile?
And yet, there is one vital element of a Fun Club which we cannot ignore. The seeds that are sown, the potential for outreach (to the parents as well as the children) and the discipleship which Jesus calls us to act out in our daily lives are at the heart of what our Fun Clubs are about. So, when we are filling our take-home bags this Summer and agonising over whether we'll find an extra person for the refreshments rota, let's try not to forget what a wonderful opportunity we have been given to reach out with the Gospel message in a fun and creative way.