Last fall we tried a new outreach that wasn’t an alternative to Halloween, but rather used Halloween and the events surrounding it to promote our event.
We threw a huge Glow Party, kind of like a mini-rave for kids with a Christian twist. It was amazing in many ways, and while not all of the ideas I share below will work for everyone, hopefully you can glean just one or two to apply to your next great event.
The Glow Party was designed to be entirely evangelist. Everything we did in promoting and planning was with the purpose of getting kids to come, hear the gospel and respond if God had spoken to their heart.
Getting the Word Out
Since this was a new event for us, I knew we would need to promote it like crazy, not only to our unchurched neighbors, but also to our own church family.
We created 15,000 Glow Party Invites, each with a glow stick attached.
Then we contacted our local school PTA’s and asked if we could sponsor a booth at their fall carnival. We told them we would provide the game, the volunteers and the prizes. Thirteen out of the eighteen schools we contacted took us up on the offer. We did take time to make sure that each principal was aware of exactly what the prizes were, as well as the wording on the invitation. We’ve learned that if we don’t use Biblical references, like Bible Stories, Worship, etc., the schools are pretty permissive. Some of the schools were selling glow sticks so we swapped those prizes out for fun dip with the invitation attached. Some of the schools didn’t need more booths or games, but took advantage of the volunteers and prizes. That used up about 6500 of the invitations.
You can only imagine the impact we had on the school community because we supported them with our people.
Since I couldn’t possibly pass out the remaining 8500 invitations myself, we enlisted the help of the entire church. We invited all our MHK families, members of Sunday Schools, Bible Studies, and the general congration to help us spread the word. And we gave them lots of ways to do this:
- They could pick up a bag of 50 invites and hand them out to friends or neighbors during the two week prior to Halloween.
- They could pick up a bag of 50 invites and hand them out on Halloween
- They could take a bag of invites and a carnival game and host a mini carnival in their front on Halloween.
Many people came to us with their own ideas for passing out the invitations. One gal talked her principal into passing them out to the entire school. Another volunteer was able to get her city’s park and recreation department to approve passing them out to the kids in the after school program. Another connected us with all the after school Bible clubs and we were able to pass out 800 invitations that way.
The response was overwhelming. We could have easily given out 20,000-25,000 invites if the budget had allowed for it.
Planning the Party
We chose to host the party on the Saturday after Halloween hoping to capitalize on the holiday momentum. We also wanted to intentionally provide an opportunity for the parents to experience our Saturday Night “Live @ 5 Service”. We knew it was risky hosting an event the night after Halloween, but we took the chance anyway.
Because we hosted the event during a regular service time we needed to provide a program for all ages. We created a mini-program for the nursery, and age-appropriate programs for the preschool and elementary kids. All of the areas were decorated with black lights strategically placed to accent the programming. In the nursery and preschool they were placed in corners of the rooms so half the room could be lit with regular lighting and half with the black light. That way it wouldn’t be too dark for any one. In the elementary area, we used the black lights to accent the stage. We also decorated with blinking light balloons, glow spheres and fun shimmery decorations.
We adjusted the program for each age-level and added lots of fun glow elements to the activities that were planned.
- We provided UV reactive Bubbles for the kids to play with.
- We had fun, kid friendly glow in the dark tattoos to put on their hands.
- They had glow-in-the-dark beach balls to toss around and use for games.
- Made their own glow gak.
- Created fun shapes with UV reactive Chenille Sticks
- Each got a glow necklace at the door.
- Could get their cheek painted with UV reactive face paint.
- Had UV reactive bubbles to play with.
- Played games with a glowing beach ball and glowing hoops.
- Heard the gospel message using glowsticks to represent the wordless book.
- Got to choose 3 Glow items from the “Glow Shop” (necklaces, sticks on lanyards or bracelets).
- Could get their cheek painted with UV reactive face paint.
- Made an example of their favorite hobby with UV reactive Chenille Sticks
- Participated in some awesome worship.
- Heard a message from Moses’ life of when he came down from the mountain and his face was glowing.
- The message led into an invitation to accept Christ.
- Saw a presentation with UV painted props that floated across the stage accenting the words of a song.
The response from the community was more than we hoped for. We had close to 800 kids come that night. Thankfully we planned with flexibility in mind so we were able to adjust.
We know at least 5 kids accepted Christ, but I believe there were many more. There was such a crowd that we weren’t able to capture the numbers like we would have liked. When Pastor Greg, gave the invitation he told the kids to find a leader and squeeze their thumb. There were so many parents that the kids wouldn’t have known who were leaders and who were parents. But one little girl approached my husband who was standing with his hands folded. She grabbed his hands, pried them apart and squeezed his thumb. That made his night.
During the following weekends we recorded at least 4 families who have begun attending our church as a direct result of the Glow Party. One is a grandma who brings 5 grandkids on Saturday night and then the other 4 grandkids on Sunday morning. A month ago, I greeted another family who was just returning to our church and sited the Glow Party as the reason for coming back.
We learned a lot throwing this first Glow Party and I would definitely make a few minor adjustments next time we host one. If you’re interested in those insights send me an e-mail and I’ll go more in-depth.
But here’s what was great about this event and what I’ve worked hard to make happen at our most recent events:
- Our families and congregation were empowered to invite their neighbors with the creative invitations.
- We built friendships and made a lasting impact at the local schools.
- Our team worked hard, utilized their strengths and did an amazing job pulling everything off.
- We shared the gospel with everyone who came.
- Families returned and have gotten plugged in to Shadow Mountain as a direct result of this event.
Links to Make it Happen
I hope you’re as excited as I was to throw such a fun-themed event. Here are links to the retailers and places that helped make it all happen.
Windy City Novelties
All the glow sticks & balloon lights
UV Reactive Paints, UV Bubbles, UV Chenille Sticks
UV reactive face paints
All the black lights
UV/Glow-in-the-Dark Craft glue used for the Gak