The Perks of Planning Ahead
League City UMC has mastered the skill of proactive planning so they can maximize publicity efforts for the year ahead – which happens to be the church’s 120th anniversary.
A calendar can be a church’s worst enemy – or best friend. Time management expert Alan Lakein made this quote famous: Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
As League City United Methodist Church (LCUMC) ramps up toward its 120th anniversary, church leaders are filling the calendar with youth activities, and special worship and mission opportunities that can be publicized well in advance to boost participation. With a small staff, LCUMC depends on a network of volunteers to get things on the church calendar and into the communication streams. “At the beginning of each year, the Administrative Council meets to look at the year ahead and finalize dates and plans, which gives us a long window of time to promote the details to the congregation and community,” says Rev. Joel McMahan. “We have a communication committee of about a half dozen people who then take the events and publicize them on Facebook, the newsletter, announcements, eblasts, word of mouth and we have a former reporter that sends articles and photos to the local newspaper.”
Twice a month, the church parking lot opens mid-day as hundreds of hungry residents line up to access the food truck, provided in partnership with the Galveston County Food Bank. Providing free groceries is meeting a critical community need, according to statistics estimating approximately 52,000 people in Galveston County face food insecurity at some point every year. “This food ministry is one of several visible ways our church bridges to the community,” adds Joel. “We have a new digital sign which has brought us new visitors as well, and our day school and pumpkin patch are well known in the area.”
Spring Worship Activities
The children's hand bell choir directed by Dr. Cindy Cook, and the children's chime's choir, directed by Jennie Urban, perform in traditional services throughout the spring.
- On Palm Sunday, March 29, League City UMC will welcome the community to a variety of services with special music, and family friendly activities. Traditional services, at 8:30 and 11 a.m., will feature a cantata with a full orchestra. Several professional musicians will be among the performers that will interact with the choir. Cuteness alert: young children will help open the services with a processional as they carry in the palms. Magnify, the contemporary service is planned for 9:45 a.m. At 4:30 p.m., families will enjoy the Easter Eggstravaganza with an abundance of eggs for all children -- and a visit from a “special guest.” The afternoon also includes Texas Pets on Wheels, rides and a carnival ‘high striker’ for prizes, as well as funnel cakes and snow cones. “There will be a large Easter egg hunt as well as food and games for the little children,” LCUMC Youth Minister Andrea Pritchard says. “The parents and kids alike are sure to have an incredible amount of fun at this event.”
- On Maundy Thursday, April 2, Communion will be part of the service at 7 p.m.
- On Easter Sunday, April 5, there will be a sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. as well as traditional services featuring a brass ensemble at 8:30 and 11 a.m., with the contemporary service at 9:45 a.m. in between.
- On April 26, 18 fifth-grade youth will be confirmed at the 11 a.m. service, followed by a spaghetti dinner and cake auction, organized by the older youth. “The kids cook the spaghetti and bake the cakes that are auctioned off,” notes Andrea. “The money raised goes to help fund activities throughout the year, such as their trip to Canyon Lake in August.
- On Mother’s Day, May 10, about 30 children will present their musical and theatrical production, I Am at 6:30 p.m. “The children have been putting on two musical plays a year,” Andrea shares. “They kids are raising money for Holt Griffith, who is a 5-year-old suffering from leukemia. Our Christmas musical raised $700 for his medical expenses.”
- On Senior Day, May 31, the congregation will celebrate high school graduates with a breakfast in the parlor at 9:30 a.m. and recognition during the 11 a.m. service.
Youth have several camp options – from Texas to Colorado -- during July, many with projects ranging from home repairs and lawn clean up to community center activities and more. “Senior high students will have a blast on a road trip that takes us to exciting stops along the way,” adds Andrea, “like tubing in Pagosa Springs, white water rafting and day tripping to other parts of Colorado.” The last big youth event of the summer is an on-site, day camp for K-5 youth in August, which serves as a fundraiser for the older youth, who serve as counselors. “We gear this camp toward our teachers who will be going back to their classes, along with parents needing that week to get ready for back-to-school without kids underfoot,” she says.
Pastor Joel McMahon is thrilled with Andrea’s energy and momentum. “Andrea has taken our youth ministry to new levels since joining the staff in 2013,” he says. “She always has a variety of activities planned for all ages. I am impressed with her tireless efforts.” Andrea believes that she has the best job ever. “Every day I am blessed because I get to be deeply involved in my relationship with God,” she shares. “Kids struggle with so many obstacles and pressures. They need to know that they are valued and their reward is in Christ and not in other worldly distractions.”
She is happy to help provide kids a safe place to go. “They need a place where they can be with their friends that is positive,” adds Andrea, “and frankly, they need a place where they can rest. School and other activities demand a lot from them. They need a retreat from their pressures, parents and the world.”
She deeply believes in heavily populated and diverse activity calendar.
“I try to mix up the activities because not every activity appeals to every kid,” she explains. “Youth can pick and choose what they want from a wide array of action designed to attract and keep kids plugged in.”
Current, the Wednesday night youth program allows young people to blow off steam by playing in the gym, or they can work with tutors that attend to help the youth with their studies. “In April, we are going to start small groups to allow for discussions and maybe a short devotional,” she said. “My prayer is that the friends they make in this environment will encourage them to get involved in the more worship-centered events.”
On Sunday evenings, youth can plug into SNL (Sunday Night Live), which happens between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. “SNL is more of a young Methodist night,” notes Andrea. “The kids eat together and pray. We provide a full lesson and our worship band, PB4J, will sing a song or two. Sometimes we do small group discussions and we also play games and go to open gym.”
Birthday of the Church
After the Annual Conference in May, League City UMC is planning a special celebration on Sept. 20, complete with many former pastors and special memories. “This congregation has been serving the community since 1895 and we want to recognize the people who have been contributors to the life of this church,” adds Rev. McMahon. Plans are being discussed to have a combination service and picnic on the grounds on “National Back to Church” Sunday on September 20. “When it comes to planning, our secret is honestly that we have great people – and entire Sunday school classes -- who adopt these events and run with them. The benefit of planning the year out early is that we avoid conflicts on the calendar, we can leverage publicity and it’s much less hectic when you can get an early start in tandem by working with other groups in the church.”
For general details on the church, go to www.lcumc.org. To see what the youth are involved in, find us on face book at “League City UMC Youth” and Instagram at “LEAGUECITYUMCYOUTH.” To enquire about youth activities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.