30 Budget-Friendly Family Ministry Events for Every Season

Summer is winding down and the beginning of a new school year will soon be upon us! Depending on your ministry context and role, you might be somewhere between catching your breath after a summer filled with camps and mission trips or reorienting your schedule after a summer of less programming but more organic connections with your church’s kids, students, and families. No matter where you are on that spectrum, you’re probably at the point of the year where you’re asking yourself: “What events am I going to add to this upcoming school year?”. If that’s you, we’re here to help with some cheap events that can be plugged into any spot in your family ministry calendar.

Disclaimers:

These family ministry events aren’t designed to be the centerpieces of your school year. If you’re looking for those kinds of events, read this blog. The events below are the smaller events you might throw in for a lower maintenance point of connection and engagement for your ministries.

This list includes 30 events total; some included specifically with student ministry in mind (6th-12th graders), some added with kids ministrys in mind (K-5th graders), and some that will work for family ministry combined! However, you know your kids better than we do, so use these events in whatever family ministry you think they will work best.

We also decided to organize these events by season (and one category of “anytime” for those events that can truly be done whenever) to give an idea of when might be the best time to use them, but again use your best judgment on when an event would best fit your context.

You as the ministry leader don’t always have to lead these types of events. Instead, for many of these, you can empower your small group leaders (the adult volunteers that work 1:1 with your kids or students) to lead on their own. In our eyes, these are a win-win. Engagement and connection for the kids/students AND an opportunity to empower your volunteers to lead. 

Anytime Events

Unstructured Hang Outs (Students): Sometimes we overprogram our students, when in reality, they just need a break from everything. Lay out some beanbags or blankets (outside or indoors), play some Lofi beats, and provide a quiet space for them to relax, study, read, and/or have some unstructured time to connect.

Photography Walk (Both): Take a photography walk to capture interesting sights in your community. People can use their own devices and photos could be sent to the ministry leader to compile together. 

Game Night (Both): Play board games or card games at your church. Everyone brings their favorite game to teach and share. We would suggest this event be separated by age groups. 

Scavenger Hunt (Kids): Plan a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt in a park or large yard.

Farmers Market Visit (Both): Find a local farmers market and walk around enjoying the atmosphere together.

Community Clean-Up (Both): Arrange a day to clean up a local park, school, or neighborhood.

Local Events Meetup (Both): Pay attention to event calendars for your area. There often are free events happening year-round. Depending on how much advance notice you need, these could be cheap fun for your kids, students, and families and could be a great way to support your greater community.

Fall Events

Pumpkin Picking (Both): Find a local farm that has pumpkins for picking. Choose a time to meet together to visit a local pumpkin patch. Email or print carving instructions for families to do together to encourage family interaction afterward. 


Local Fall Festival (Both): Many communities have some type of fall festival or event, which typically includes activities like corn mazes and hayrides. You can organize a day to go together.  


Local State Fair (Both): State Fairs make their way around the country around fall time. Google to see if your state’s fair is close enough to plan a trip together. 

Fall Small Group Leader Party (Both) – ​​Use this customizable party kit, which already comes with creative games, invitations, icebreakers, and more, to encourage your volunteers to throw their own fun, fall party using the theme, Fall Fest.

Winter Events

Outdoor Ice Rink (Students): During the winter months some communities build temporary outdoor skating rinks. Plan a night for your student ministry to meet and skate together. 


Bonfire Night (Both): Ask families to bring their portable fire pits to church. Supply the ingredients for s’mores eating. This might be best done with age groups separated. 

Christmas Lights House Tour (Both): Many communities have homeowners who go above and beyond to decorate their homes with extravagant Christmas-themed lighting and props. Find those neighborhoods in your community and coordinate a group tour together.

White Elephant Christmas Gift Exchange (Students): For anyone who’d like to participate, bring a gift to exchange in the “white elephant style” (Google rules if you’re unfamiliar). This event might best be done in place of or as an extension of a student gathering small group time.
Winter Small Group Party (Both) – Use this customizable party kit, which already comes with creative games, invitations, icebreakers, and more, to encourage your volunteers to throw their own fun, fall party using the theme, Winterpalooza.

Spring Events

Sports at the Park (Both): Play sports like soccer, frisbee, or volleyball in a local park. This event could work well for both age groups, but we’d suggest either doing it on two separate days or separating the younger kids from the older kids. 

Bike Ride (Kids): Go on a group bike ride through scenic routes of your area. 

Garden Tour (Both): Visit community or botanical gardens together.
Spring Small Group Party (Both) – Use this customizable party kit, which already comes with creative games, invitations, icebreakers, and more, to encourage your volunteers to throw their own fun, fall party using the theme, Spring Carnival.

Summer Events

Splash Day (Both): Spend the day at a nearby beach, lake, pool, or splash pad.

Book Club (Both): Start a family-friendly book club and meet to discuss chapters each week.

Volunteer together (Both): Volunteer as a group at a local charity, event, or parachurch ministry that your church supports. 

Fitness Class (Students): Join a free community fitness class, such as yoga in the park.

Bird Watching (Kids): Organize a bird-watching outing with guides about local birds and binoculars.

Storytelling Session (Kids): Host a storytelling or reading session at your church, local library, or community center. Children can bring their favorite books for a member of your church to read.

Start the Party Event (Students) – This free event kit gives you everything you need to create a memorable and meaningful experience for your students, including decor ideas, games, party favors, a teaching moment and more.

Potluck Picnic (Both): Have a potluck where each family brings a dish to share. This could be at your church or somewhere else in your community. You can add a theme to make it more unique and personal. 

Outdoor Movie Night (Both): Set up a projector and screen for an outdoor movie night. This can be done with both age groups but might best be done with age groups separately. 
Summer Small Group Party (Both) – Use this customizable party kit, which already comes with creative games, invitations, icebreakers, and more, to encourage your volunteers to throw their own fun, fall party using the theme, Summer Splash.

Ministry Event Goal

We hope that these ideas have reminded you how many possibilities there are when it comes to creating ministry events where kids and students can experience community. However, don’t forget that the goal of family ministry is not just to have a full calendar, but leverage strategic events where kids and teenagers can experience community and grow in their relationships with God and each other.

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