As we go searching for lost sheep together, the Father is not willing that any of our little ones be lost!
Outreach might take you to any number of locations: hospitals, crowded streets, parks, theatres, or beaches. Wherever people are, God is at work. Anyone who has helped on a school trip will know that being out and about with groups of children or young people can have its challenges!
We want to pass on some strategies and methods of organisation which might really help as you plan for outreach with all ages. Some of this may seem a little nitty gritty and not very exciting, but it is part of the foundation on which a great outreach experience is built.
Here are a few things which need to be done before any outreach is undertaken.
In the UK, any adults who will be overseeing children/ young people in outreach activities, especially if there is any residential element, must have a DBS check (or Scottish PVG), unless they will be doing this under the constant supervision of another DBS checked staff member.
As well as being Police checked, supervising adults will need to have received some basic safeguarding training. It would also be helpful for all adults involved (e.g. parents, grandparents or carers) to have received this training, so that everyone is on the same page in their understanding of good practice, even if they are only taking charge of their own children.
These should be completed by supervising staff before outreach activities take place, for each activity and location.
The following ideas are not essential, but are often very helpful.
Emergency Contact card
A card with the mobile numbers of some of the key leaders, given to all team members with mobiles (teens and adults, usually).
It can be helpful to have team T-shirts, sweatshirts or even baseball caps. As well as creating a team identity, it enables responsible adults to spot team members easily!
Depending on the size of the team, their ages and the location, different strategies can be used to ensure safety and help the team function:
Ministry groups – 3/4 young people plus a staff person, who stick together at all times.
Often used when ministry involves lots of moving around in public places, eg treasure hunting, random acts of kindness, street ministry.
Micro/ macro – Most staff members are focused on the task at hand with the young people while a few are monitoring the big picture, aware of what’s going on in the whole area and of who might need support.
Often used when a team is operating in one location eg a park, sports field, arena etc
Ministry partners – Group divides up into partners who are responsible for knowing where the other is at all times.
Helpful when in transit and making sure everyone who left has arrived!
An idea that can be used with both Ministry groups and Ministry partners is to number them, so when checking everyone is present you only need to call out the numbers and the agreed partner/ staff person can respond with “here” or “not here” (if someone’s missing). This facilitates very quick feedback on whether your team are all present and who, if anyone, is missing.
In each ministry location, it is important to clearly communicate where participants can and cannot go. This may be more necessary for some kinds of ministry, ages and groupings than others. Some examples:
* When walking from one place to another – must stay behind the leading staff member and in front of the “rear guard” staff member (or if in small groups – stay with your staff member).
* In a park – up to the fence over here and the tree over there (both within sight).
* Staying in a church – we can be in rooms A and B, but not area C.
We hope these are helpful ideas as you prepare for outreach with all ages. Please comment if you have any different ideas you have used in outreach with all ages.