According to Alan Krober, Senior Pastor at Mililani Baptist Church (MBC), “we ran our annual Fall Carnival again this year as a safe and free Halloween alternative. It’s our largest community outreach event of the year. This year we had over 900 people from our community participate in our Fall Carnival and had 73 volunteers from our church helping out that night. It was a fun night for everyone with lots and lots of candy. We had carnival type games with candy as prizes. There were also multiple bounce houses, pony rides, live music, face painting, balloon animals, craft centers, photo booth, door prizes, shave ice, cotton candy, popcorn, and hot dogs.”
Krober also stressed, “Follow-up is essential!” Here are some of the elements of their follow-up:
1. We had a registration table for all the families who came where they received free tickets to be used for any of our games. As part of the registration process, we asked families to list their home church. When no home church is listed, these families are moved to the top of our list for
2. We provided some type of takeaway. In the past, we provided a gospel tract in every registration packet but found it to be minimally effective. Kids cared about the candy but the registration materials often got discarded. This year, we upgraded to a 3-D style pumpkin tract and found that this fun style was more popular with the kids and at least went home with them as opposed to being found in our garbage cans at the church.
3. We shared the Gospel message at the event. As we’ve done this again and again, we’ve worked harder to make sure that the Gospel message is shared with everyone who attends. This means that midway through the event, we pause all activities and present the Gospel to everyone there. We also added multiple craft centers where the craft activities present the Gospel message. Our pony rides are the most popular center at the Fall Carnival for our younger children. Because of the wait involved, we moved several craft activity centers that all present the Gospel to that area. Instead of just waiting in line, the kids can participate in the crafts until it’s their turn on the pony. Throughout
the church, we include promotional material for all of our children’s ministries and other ministries that may interest the parents there. By the bounce houses, we put chairs for the parents to relax and still be able to see their kids while they’re playing. In those areas, we made sure to have someone from our church present, and actively sharing and building relationships.
4. We used high-value photo booth as part of our follow-up strategy. As part of our carnival, we had a professional style photo booth. It had photography lighting and a decorated backdrop. It’s nice enough that there’s usually a line there waiting to get a family picture. We printed hard copies of all these photos and use them as part of our follow-up strategy. Those who have a home church get the picture mailed to them. But those without a church will have a visit from a team from our church. We deliver their photo along with information about our church and a bag of candy (it’s a great way for us to clear out any leftover candy from the event). Our goal is to visit all of our unchurched families within two weeks of the event. We pray for all of the families and then send out teams of two to deliver the photos. Teams introduce themselves as a member of MBC and thank the families for coming. We then ask if there is anything that we can pray for them and then invite them to our church’s Sunday services. If the conversation leads to the Gospel, our teams have been trained to be able to share the Gospel message when the opportunities arise. The families are then added to our children’s ministry database and are invited to future events. We’re in the process of
rolling out a regular children’s ministry newsletter and will give families the option to subscribe to it.
Overall, the Fall Carnival is a great way to reach out to our community and share the Gospel message with them. It does take a lot of planning and work, but it’s worth it.