Beyond worship and education opportunities, it is energizing to gather in fellowship with our church family. Easter egg hunts, summer picnics, outdoor worship, and fall festivals are all great ways to bring people together in warm weather. Once the temperatures drop and the outdoors become prohibitive for events, it takes some creativity to pull together indoor fellowship.
For many years my congregation held a winter picnic in January in our multipurpose room. It ran its course and was discontinued awhile back. After much reminiscing by parents who remember it from their childhoods, we are restarting it this year. The congregation is invited to pack a light lunch and a blanket to bring with them to church on a Sunday morning. We will set up a few tables for those who prefer to not sit on the floor, and the plan is to make the large parish hall space into an indoor picnic area. We have hired a local magician to come and give a performance that is friendly to all ages. As the word has gotten out about the revived winter picnic, a buzz has started to grow with interest and excitement.
Another indoor activity that we have hosted in the past is an all-ages book club. We invited our middle schoolers to choose a book that they felt would appeal to the whole congregation. At the time we were in the middle of a construction project to install an elevator and accessibility upgrades to our historic (old) church. The youth chose to read a young adult novel, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which focuses on themes of inclusivity and diversity. For our discussion we set up two large concentric circles of chairs. We invited children and youth to sit in the inner circle and lead the discussion. We asked the adults attending to allow the middle schoolers to start with the discussion questions they had prepared and lead the talk. By putting the youth in the center circle and asking that adults comment after the youth had started each conversation point, we created a truly youth-led discussion. It was very successful! We followed up with a movie night a few weeks later in the same multipurpose room.
From indoor picnics to book discussions and movie nights, there are many ways to keep families and congregations engaged in fun indoor fellowship in the winter. Be creative with your space and invite different ages to help plan your events. Creating time for your church family to enjoy one another is a blessing to all.