In a day when society has become so mobile, there are many children without parents or grandparents close by. I have shared some ideas in the past (see blog on Serving Through Sunday School) for outreach, but here are some creative ways to get in the community and build relationships with children, youth and college students.
- Grandparent: Back in my days in Georgia, I often listened to a radio station out of Atlanta. One morning they interviewed a senior adult woman who read to children a couple of times a week at a local grocery store. She had a persona about her with a dress from the fifties, an apron and a bonnet. She would build relationships with the children when they walked in the door, by finding out where their family was originally from. She had a map of the world on the wall and would place a push pin in that part of the world for each child. She was a grandmother figure to children. Parents would shop at that store a couple of days a week at that certain time when she would be there to read to their children! She became a part of their regular schedule.
What if you had a senior adult woman (for instance: Granny Smith) who loved to read to children who became that person for a local grocery store? What if that grocery store was willing to advertise and have at the bottom of the advertisement the following…partnering with the ministry of ______ Baptist Church with your website listed. After developing a relationship with the grocery store for several months, they were willing to announce that Granny Smith will be at _______ Baptist Church for Vacation Bible School! Do you see the possibilities? It is building relationships with the community and making it possible to make a difference in the lives of children…(who will ask their parents to come and visit your church!)
2. Consider asking senior adults to adopt a child or youth in your church. In my days as Pastor of Bethel Baptist in Scottsburg, we were far away from grandparents for our two children who were two and four. We had two persons who became adoptive grandparents to our children and still have an impact on our adult children today. Recognize the value senior adults can have for our children and the children of our community, because more than anything else, young parents want to find family for their children.
3. Consider adopt a college student if you are near a college. Katrina and I both had this experience from a church in Birmingham, AL at South Avondale Baptist Church. This was an average size church who decided that college students needed family. Each new college student who wanted to be adopted received parents who would take them to lunch on Sunday and provided their home to wash clothes as well! Actually my adoptive parents even hosted the rehearsal dinner for our wedding! The possibilities are endless. The bottom line is we all need persons to fill in the gaps as family when we are away from home.