Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year, but I must admit I say that about all the seasons. But when we were overseas in Spain, many of our Spanish friends enjoyed how we Americans celebrated fall more than other cultures. Fall was one of our most evangelistic seasons of the year with fall parties, thanksgiving dinners, and craft events with kids.
Over the past couple of summers, the pandemic reminded us that reaching a few with VBS in our homes and for our neighborhood can be just as fruitful as doing a large event in our church buildings. We realized this early in our ministry in Spain. With any season and with any activity, keeping in mind how we can build relationships with others and point people to Jesus, especially those who may not want to go to a church, should always be our number one focus as kingdom people.
Here are a few ways to do that:
If you’re planning to carve pumpkins with your family, consider having a pumpkin carving contest in your neighborhood. Have everyone bring their own pumpkins and serve small treats and apple cider.
When my kids were younger, I would tell them a story that they were like a pumpkin. God created and planted a seed and saw that seed grow. When it was the right time, He took out all the guck and mucky stuff, the bad stuff we call sin, and instead put a light in us. And that light was to shine His goodness in a world that sometimes is dark.
Other pumpkin carving activities may include going to a shelter or a youth center and volunteering to carve pumpkins with people there.
Pointing to God’s Creation
Fall is the best time to gather people together outdoors. It’s not too hot and not too cold and activities can center on nature which means free activities and endless craft supplies!
Gather neighborhood kids or families and focus on the changing seasons. Though winter will soon come, spring always follows, reminding people of hope in times of challenges. Depending on your preference, you can talk about God as Creator of all things and how He makes things beautiful in all seasons or you can simply use the time to reflect Jesus in the way you love these friends and neighbors, building more trust and friendship in your relationship.
Go on hikes or go camping with other families, neighbors, and friends. Enjoy the great outdoors. Have a nature scavenger hunt. Plan a treasure map party at the park that leads to a box of treats. Go to a nearby waterfall or natural site to enjoy the wonders of God’s creation. Have constellation parties and bonfires with telescopes. Go on a birdwatching trek. Fall simply lends itself to the great outdoors, and while in it, many may see the wonders of God. “For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made” (Rom. 1:20a).
Even without focusing on getting outdoors, having parties indoors also has its options. Sometimes being evangelistic does not always include something overt. Showing people you love them, care for them, and enjoy them may be one of the greatest ways to point people to Jesus as they see Him through your life, the way you parent, show kindness, love others, have fun, and enjoy life.
Some ideas with children or teens include leaf printing with crayons or paint, building a fairy garden, decorating fall-themed cookies, hosting a neighborhood costume party, having a neighborhood fall parade, or planning a chili cook-off.
The fun thing is, you can do many of these things with just adults as well—a flower centerpiece decorating class, a fall bake-off, a fall and winter décor swap party, and so forth. You can find endless ideas in books and on Pinterest®.
November always starts our family thanksgiving tree. With the kids, we would make a large flat paper tree and tape it to a wall. Then throughout November, they would write all the things they were thankful for on a paper leaf. There are many different ways to do this, with tree branches in a vase or just strips of paper in a jar. Cultivating a heart of gratitude is needed not only in children but in all of us. If we ever have guests during November, we ask that they participate with us with a leaf or two as well.
Another activity in gratefulness is setting aside a time for everyone in the family to write five thank you cards to someone—and three of them must be non-family related (so the kids would venture out in thinking of other people they want to say thank you to other than Mom, Dad, Grampa, Gramma, and Uncle Bob). Everyone has until Thanksgiving to hand out or mail their cards. You can help younger kids think of who to write to and what to write. Teachers, neighbors, postal workers, trash collectors, doctors, nurses, crossing guards, cashiers at your favorite store, waitresses at your favorite restaurant—the list goes one. Everyone always appreciates a thank you note.
Thanksgiving dinner, of course, was our biggest event in Spain as foreigners have seen the concept on television but have always wanted to experience it themselves. Though you may not be overseas, if there is a university near you, see if you can be involved in its Foreign Friends program, usually “adopting” a foreign exchange student for the year to befriend and help assimilate into American life. These opportunities may include a one-year commitment or you simply may be the person to plan parties/meals like Thanksgiving for the foreign students in that school. Sometimes, maybe the student isn’t foreign but just doesn’t have a way to go home for Thanksgiving. Find out how you can invite these students to your Thanksgiving.
Even if you prefer Thanksgiving to be a family event, plan a Friendsgiving on another date to provide a space to eat together with neighbors and friends, some who may not know Jesus. Decide to go around and say what you’re thankful for. This gives you the perfect opportunity to thank Jesus, giving a personal testimony of what He has done in your life.
Fall has endless opportunities for events and activities to continue our desire to reach out to others. Let’s be intentional in every season to invite that one person or one family that’s been on our minds.
Enjoy these Forty Five Fall for Jesus Ideas!
Y Bonesteele lived on mission in Madrid, Spain, for six and half years. She has her M.Div., with an emphasis in evangelism and discipleship, from Talbot School of Theology. She currently resides in Middle Tennessee with her husband and four children and wonders where they sell “jamón ibérico” in Tennessee.