Continue to encourage and support prisoners' families throughout the entire year
The annual Angel Tree® Christmas program is a great way to share gifts and the Gospel with children of the incarcerated. But it's just a start. Your local Angel Tree program can change lives all year long as it helps your church create a supportive home for hurting families, where they can experience the transforming power of Christ.
You can bring joy to prisoners' children by letting them know God still loves them, no matter what has happened to their family. You can give them peace by sharing Christ and inviting them to be a part of your caring church family. And you can help them stay strong and united as they wait for the day when Mom or Dad returns home.
YEAR-ROUND MINISTRY IDEAS
Here are some suggested ways to continue your ministry throughout the year:
- FAMILY FUN DAY
Provide food, music, face painting, games, prizes, etc. This is a day to introduce Angel Tree families to other families in your church. It's a time to simply have fun, meet new people, and build deeper relationships.
- CAREGIVER'S NIGHT OUT
For caregivers, being able to enjoy a respite from the children and the company of other adults is usually a rare and welcomed luxury. Provide onsite care for the children and plan a meal and fun activities at the church for all the caregivers.
- LETTER WRITING CLUB
Writing letters is often the best form of communication between children and their incarcerated parents. To make the process smoother, help children think of important things to say in their letters. Encourage everyone to follow your state's Department of Corrections rules for prisoner correspondence.
- BACK-TO-SCHOOL EVENT
Determine the gender, grade-levels, and number of children you wish to serve. Then purchase the required school supplies and throw a party for the kids. Providing this support can relieve financial pressure on caregivers and help children have a more successful school year.
- BOOK/READING CLUB
There are a number of books written for children of the incarcerated. Giving kids an opportunity to hear about how others cope with similar experiences can be very helpful. You might use additional books to share the Gospel or moral values. Take time for children to share their thoughts or let them draw pictures about what they think about the books.
- MOVIE NIGHT
You don't need a theater to host a movie night. Just convert a classroom or fellowship hall into a fun, comfortable place to watch movies and allow children to relax and enjoy themselves in a safe environment.
There is truly no limit to the many ways your church might serve the children and families of the incarcerated. You can provide inspirational books or magazine subscriptions, surprise them with a food basket on Thanksgiving, celebrate their birthdays, set up a tutoring program for struggling students, or offer to do repairs on their home or car.
Above all, let the families of the incarcerated know they are welcome at your church. Invite the kids to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Involve the caregivers in your women's or men's ministries. Include them in your Fourth of July cookout and your Easter party. Ask if they would like to join the choir or help plan the church's annual yard sale. You will be amazed at how richly you—as well as they—are blessed as you enfold the families of the incarcerated into your fellowship.
For more information about year-round family ministry, click here.