6 Things to Remember for Church Fall Festivals

Everyone loves a good fall festival. It is a time to enjoy cooler weather, family, friends, pumpkin-everything, and fun activities. My husband and I grew up in Christian schools where fall festivals were very popular, especially in our early years. Many of these events were some of the largest attended events of the year, as well as one of the biggest fundraisers for the schools. Over the years, we have had the privilege to have been involved in, and sometimes planned, a number of fall outreach events for churches. In doing so, however, we discovered that there is a definite difference between a school sponsored festival (or carnival) and that of a church sponsored festival. Often, those helping us in those endeavors could not understand those differences, especially if they had once been intricately involved in school sponsored festivals.pumpkin pile

For a school sponsored event, the goal is usually to raise money for the school or a school project. This is perfectly acceptable. It is a great way to have parents get involved with the school as well as provide a means to let the community support the school in some way.

For a church, however, the goal is not to raise money. In fact, many people are extremely put off if they show up to a church event and are asked for money. It plays into the stereotypes that many have of churches: always asking for money.

Before you plan your next festival, carnival, or trunk or-treat, keep the following things in mind.

  1. The main purpose of a church sponsored festival is an outreach to present the gospel. A church festival done right and well will bring in several hundred families onto your church property. While going door to door each week may allow your church to reach a few roads or apartment complexes, there isn’t always the guarantee that you will find anyone home. However, setting aside one day in the fall for a fall festival will allow you to present the gospel in tract form, through teams of “talkers,” and through the friendliness of your people.
  2. A festival or carnival is a great way to introduce your church to the community. A festival is a less-intimidating way for someone who may be interested in your church to come to “get a feel” for the facilities and the people. Providing a brochure with service times, ministries and classes available, as well as a little bit about the staff will help introduce your ministry to the community and potential attenders.
  3. A festival is a chance to serve in the church. Some people may not have a talent for teaching, but they can run a game. Some may not be able to do much in other areas, but they can sit around and chat with those who are new faces. Some may have talents in the area of art; this is a great way for them to exercise that talent through decorating booths and facilities. This also provides another area to develop and hone leadership skills.
  4. A festival is a chance to teach teens and children to serve. We often had a teen sponsored booth (usually a cardboard maze) that the teens were responsible for setting up and running. Children (age appropriate, of course) can also help by handing out brochures, setting up games, picking up trash, and helping parents or Sunday school teachers with their games. It is also a way to teach that serving the Lord can be fun!
  5. A church sponsored festival is a chance to provide a safe and fun activity for the community. We have seen many churches do such a marvelous job with their fall festivals that they had to coordinate with local law enforcement for traffic control. In today’s times, families are constantly searching for safe and fun activities for their families. In one area, there was an activity sponsored by several churches at a local community center. Everyone in the community looked forward to that event and planned their calendars around it.
  6. A church sponsored festival should keep in mind others, not simply “you and yours.” Often church members forget that the purpose of the event is to reach others. While it can be fun for you and your family, the primary goal is not for your entertainment. Every effort can and should be made to make sure that each family has a chance to enjoy the festival as a family for a scheduled time. However, when it is time to head back to “work” do so with a joyful and servant heart. This is a great teaching moment to your children that your family can serve the Lord together. {Besides, there are plenty of other area activities your family can enjoy at another time.}

As you plan your fall event regularly ask yourself if your plans are outreach focused. In your planning meetings, remind your leaders the reason for the event. Purposefully teach church members through Sunday school, announcements, and other avenues the goals and intent of the event. Above all, pray. Pray for unity. Pray for one heart and one mind of each person involved. Pray for the leaders and planners. Pray for those who may attend the event. Pray for fruit for your efforts. Pray that God may be glorified in all that your church does… even in a fall festival.

photo credit: photopin.com

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