By Christ to All
As children gear up for in-person learning this fall, there is an opportunity for the church to come alongside families and encourage them. A wonderful way for churches to help families start the school year on the right footing is to host a back-to-school celebration for children—particularly, a backpack blessing.
Invite everyone in the community to attend. Set a target for the area or neighborhoods you have the capacity to serve and organize a promotional campaign. Not only do you want to love the children in your own church, but you want the light of Christ to shine to the entire community.
Start your event with built-in time for students and families to socialize and connect with each other. An excellent way to foster interaction between students is to have age-relevant activities. For the youngest, provide coloring pages or activity books. Elementary students may prefer a craft that is more involved, depending on the age of the child. Youth in grades 6-12 will want a physical activity that is unstructured, so provide balls, frisbees, and other sports equipment.
Offer a snack or a meal for attendees. Be sure to plan snacks with care, considering common allergens and what would be enjoyed by all ages. Providing a meal will require more planning and will necessitate arrangements for table setups and food preparation.
After families have had time to settle in, you will want to have an organized game. Choose a game such as kickball, or ships and sailors, that would be active and enjoyed by everyone. You may want to divide the kids by age and modify the activity accordingly. Providing an opportunity for youth and children to win a prize will increase the fun!
Once the meal and game have been completed, it is time to start the backpack blessing. Begin with a short devotional or Gospel presentation. Afterward, call children forward with their backpacks. To ensure everyone can participate, supply backpacks to children who did not bring one. Offer a brief word of encouragement to help children get excited about the upcoming year. Then pray over them, asking Jesus to bless their year and to guide them. Send each child home with a gift that includes a biblical reminder.
Have a separate time of prayer for the youth.
The most important aspect of the back-to-school event is to center attendees around Christ. This time of year may create both anxiety and excitement for many families, so this is a prime opportunity to anchor them in God’s love. Be sure to add the families who participated to your staff prayer time throughout the year.
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