Successful church entertainments can help us reach our goals. "We may bring hundreds and thousands of children to Christ if we will work for them."—Councils to Parents and Teachers, p. 172.
The church social is the occasion when we turn back time, and children, parents, teachers, and preachers draw very close in a congenial atmosphere. Sleeping, cold churches change into friendly hard-working groups by becoming aware of their individual responsibilities toward making all members of the group happier.
At an all-church social, do not be satisfied short of the aim: "Everybody is to have a good time." Every time you gather together try pinning this slogan on every person present, whether the social is in a school, a recreation hall, the city park, or beside some lake. Then plan the details so well that even the young people will not be tempted to stray away.
I saw tomorrow look at me
From little children's eyes;
And thought how carefully we'd plan
If we were wise.
Always use your most competent leaders, and if possible have more than one person lead out. Appoint an entertainment committee to work out all the details. Weeks before the date of the social a suggestive list of games and skits should be handed to the leaders for their approval or revision. These events should be arranged so that the active and quiet games will alternate.
Begin at seven-thirty if that is the time that has been set. Do not sit around waiting for others to come, but greet the prompt arrivals with action. With careful planning, a game that is interesting, worthwhile, and action filled can be provided.
All church socials must be varied, yet simple enough to be inexpensive. They must not be exhausting to the leaders. Our denominational book of games is excellent (Recreational Plans, prepared by the Missionary Volunteer Department of the General Conference, Review and Herald Publishing Association, $3.00). If your church is to succeed in making its social life so satisfying that its members will not want to go to the world for entertainment, you will soon be "scraping the barrel" for ideas. There are many things in library books that can be adapted to our needs, and the entertainment committee will do well to search the catalog under "Recreation" in consultation with the librarian. Sections numbered 793, 394, and 259 include books on indoor entertainment, holidays, and other ministrations and work.
In the past fourteen years we have conducted evangelistic meetings in the vicinity of more than forty churches. Concerning the recreational activities of these churches we might make the following observations:
- Some had well-organized programs for all.
- In many, the cry of the mothers was, "Give us more entertainment."
- Many socials were failures or near failures.
- The were poorly organized and the children were boisterous.
- Everywhere there were too few trained leaders, and very few of the churches had training programs.
- Occasionally we heard the remark, "The young people won't come, so why have a social?"
Every social should have joy and fun among its objectives. We often reach other goals while creating the merry heart that doeth good like a medicine; we learn how to get more pleasure from nature, from music, and from art. Each program should be varied, and you may wish to include humorous skits that require little from those who are just relaxing. One smile-producing item is to call to the front a group of married couples. Each husband is required to cut off the length of string he believes will exactly reach around his wife's waistline. More folks than Junior, who loves to see his parents in the limelight, will be interested when the wives demonstrate how accurate their husbands were.
The group may enjoy watching a chalk artist, but the pleasure is increased by audience participation. Form an art class of volunteers. They will probably create relaxing amusement for the audience while learning a few art strokes.
A musician with imagination can make you smile as he and the audience compose some musical story, possibly incorporating something of local interest—all of this after he has taken you on a magic carpet into the world of music and back.
Do not overlook recognition, especially for the winners in your all-church hobby shows. The committee can purchase some little articles to be given as prizes.
Some games will not appeal to every age group; but most people enjoy light refreshments.
If our people are educated on the subject of heavy sweets, they will cooperate in making our socials examples of Christian living. Let them ring true to our message. But a small amount of good refreshing punch will be appreciated at the social. And there is a place for the prayer of gratitude at refreshment time, as well as at the close of a happy evening.
Many people are curious to see the inside of their pastor's home, and a visit will create a bond with the pastor's family. Last year we worked out a plan to invite the entire church home to dinner by having one Sabbath school class visit us each week. When the pastor's wife prepares the main dishes it provides an opportunity for her to acquaint her guests with our distinctive health recipes. We encouraged the older members, as well as the juniors and young people, to bring friends with them, and we also invited neighbors and their children when the people of their own age group came.
If your church would like the pleasure and training received from one semiformal occasion each year, let them plan an Ingathering victory banquet, or possibly a mother-daughter or father-son dinner. Do not neglect church picnics once or twice a year, near the water if your group likes water sports and you have adequate lifesaving protection. Watermelons are an easy refreshment to serve.
The entertainment of the church, with all the bearing it has upon the present and the future of our young people, is a challenge to every shepherdess who would inspire the social committee in her particular church to satisfy the members so that they will not desire the entertainment of the world.