Family Fun with a Gospel Purpose
Woodgreen Evangelical Church in Worcester relocated to be at the heart of a huge new housing estate. They have since grown to 180 members and attract hoards of visitors to events. Here's an insight into the planning behind their annual Family Fun Day.
Our first Family Fun Day took place in 2010 to celebrate 15 years of Woodgreen Evangelical Church being part of the local community.
The church opened on the Warndon Villages estate in 1995, after leaders had the vision to see a wonderful gospel opportunity in the shape of the 5,000 new homes being built there.
Previously meeting as Worcester’s East Street Church in the city centre, the leaders had been searching for permanent premises that would bring an end to hiring a school hall for services. In God’s goodness, a plot of land became available on the new estate, and the church hasn’t looked back.
We have been running a Fun Day every year since 1995, and numbers have increased each time as people return and bring their friends. This year’s event attracted around 700 people!
A lot of thought and planning goes into it. It’s always held on the second Saturday in June, just before Father’s Day when we have guest services that we can invite people to. Holding the event at the same time every year means people can put it in their diaries even before our advertising starts.
A key factor in the day’s success is that it is a whole-church event. We have a budget that allows the hire of rides, inflatables and craft materials, but it’s our army of willing volunteers that makes it what it is.
We ask people to start signing-up to help two months in advance. While time-consuming, we find that asking people face-to-face is the most effective way to build the 75-strong team we need. We work with each volunteer to find roles that they would feel most comfortable in.
Leaflets advertising the Fun Day are printed, and are distributed by volunteers to each of the 5,000 homes on the estate.
Many people in the congregation bake cakes and biscuits, and food is bought and prepared for the popular afternoon barbecue.
We have set-up and set-down teams who prepare our building and then restore everything back to normal, ready for the next day’s services. We prepare to open the whole of our building to enable us to accommodate 700-800 visitors, particularly if it rains.
On the day, pastors and staff members are out in the church car park to greet visitors and hand out free tickets for the barbecue. The same team provides invitations to the Father’s Day services and other outreach events as people leave the event.
We have a Welcome Team in the foyer to provide information about activities that we run for different age groups. This builds on personal Fun Day invitations given to families by helpers in our parents and toddlers group and in our youth groups.
Refreshments are served in the middle of our large building so that parents can sit and watch their children taking part in the activities. This means that members of our Welcome Team can chat with families and, where there are opportunities, invite them to other church events including guest services.
As a church at the heart of our community, it’s important that families feel comfortable attending our Fun Day, so we welcome feedback from our visitors.
Something that many people have commented on is the fact that they really appreciate that everything at our event, apart from ice cream, is free. Costs at non-church events can quickly add-up for families (especially those with several children), so we wanted to remove that burden from our visitors.
Making almost everything free-of-charge has had two results. First, it has provided opportunities for us to talk about what we believe and why we want to show Jesus’ love to those living around us. Second, because it doesn’t cost people to stay longer, many stay with us for the whole afternoon, giving more time to chat and build relationships.
Our Fun Day builds on a lot of effort by many people throughout the year to make people feel welcome at Woodgreen, both on Sundays and during weekday activities.
Over time, local people have come to see us as a welcoming church that’s a core part of their community. This is enabling us to fulfil the original vision that East Street church had for reaching out with the gospel on the Warndon Villages estate.