Church: Northfield UMC
After realizing that its community didn’t have a lot of places for small children to play, especially during the winter months, Northfield United Methodist Church stocked its gym with toys and opened it up to families twice a week.
Not only has this been a blessing to parents in the community, but it’s helped the church reach dozens of new people.
From 8 to 10 a.m., every Tuesday and Thursday January through March, young children and their caregivers could stop by for playtime in the church’s carpeted gym, which was stocked with trikes, slides, tunnels, basketball hoops, balls, and more. There was even a dedicated area for crawlers.
“People have said to us, ‘Northfield needs more stuff like this,’” said Associate Pastor, Rev. Jerad Morey.
He estimates that 40 to 50 families from the community came for playtime, most of whom weren’t previously connected to the church. In one recent week, 17 families stopped by.
A staff member was always present, which allowed them to get to know the families.
“We realize the evangelical opportunity to help people connect to the body of Christ through something like this,” Morey said.
The church has also been intentional about following up with the families that came to playtime by collecting their e-mail addresses and then contacting them to invite them to other church events—like a movie night.
“When describing what the holy city will look like when God is living in it, the prophet Zechariah says ‘the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets,’ said Morey. “Northfield doesn’t want 3-year-olds running down its city streets in January, but we do feel closer to heaven when we’re in a room full of children’s smiles and laughter.”
How can your church use its assets to meet a community need and reach new people?
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church