Have you discovered fun and/or meaningful things to do with your ministry partners? Last week, I wrote Appreciation Gifts for Ministry Partners and promised to write part two today. Don’t worry, most of these ideas are affordable. By the way, if your friends “pick up the tab” for an expensive outing, be sure to pay for your meal together or give them a thank you gift (see part one of this series).
Of course, invite your ministry partners to visit you at your place of ministry. For a very positive Cru experience, encourage them to go to the JESUS Film Tour in Orlando if you know they’ll be in the area (whether or not you live in Orlando). If you live in Orlando, join them, of course.
Nothing wrong with eating out, but for a change-of-pace, share with them the fun things you like to do and be willing to enjoy their interests and hobbies. I’m confident my ideas will help spark some creative ways to have fun, get to know each other, and express your appreciation for their role in your ministry.
I hope you’ll even discover things to do with a family who has everything or doesn’t want a gift. Don’t panic when you learn that they’re going to be in town (or you’re visiting them). If you’re at a loss of what to do together, I hope you’ll bookmark this post and come back to it when you need someone to help come up with ideas. (See NOTES for another great resource for ideas.)
Because we live in Orlando, there’s plenty to do here, so I’ll include some specific tips for our headquarters staff in the second half of this post. If you don’t live in Orlando, you might still read through these ideas because some of them will work for other parts of the country, too.
Some things we’ve done with our ministry friends:
- went to a pro sports event
- spent a weekend at the beach
- had a group game night
- spent an afternoon together at a National Park
- went golfing
- poked around the Gaylord Palms Resort
- went to an attraction or event
- spent a morning birdwatching
- enjoyed an air show together
- toured Savannah, Georgia, for the weekend
- went to a concert or a movie
- enjoyed a local mall and witnessed to some shopkeepers
- strolled through a formal gardens and a museum
- went together to hear Dr. Bright speak at an event many years ago
- shared the Kitchen Sink Sundae at the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
Don’t forget to use natural opportunities to share your faith with others when you’re with your ministry partners. They’ll be blessed and, hopefully, encouraged to share their faith as a way of life, too.
Things to Do with Your Ministry Partners
Take Your Ministry Partners Somewhere
Many places have affordable annual passes so when you have visitors come to town, they might join you. We’ve done this with Kennedy Space Center. When the kids were younger (and I was homeschooling them), we’d buy an annual zoo or an annual science center family pass which are good for free admission to hundreds of similar places across the country. These family passes give you more for your money since you might also visit these places with your partners on your trips to other cities or, again, when they visit you.
Many public places offer free admission days. National Parks and State Parks have free admission days. National Public Gardens Day occurs annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day with free admission to over 500 gardens, arboreteums, and zoos. If you have a Bank of America account, you have free admission per bank card to many museums the first full weekend of every month.
My friends, Leendert de J. and Jing de V. in the Netherlands, recommend going with your partners to a Journey of Generosity conference. The annual gathering for 2017 will even be in Orlando, Florida, from April 28th – 30th. This video explains the concept.
Leendert shares, “It’s a great experience to connect in a safe setting with your partner. No extra money requests, but a great opportunity to talk about generosity together and with others. We have done this with couples out of our team of partners and they really enjoyed it as a gift. One now helps me lead JoG small groups in the Netherlands.”
Do Something Together with Your Ministry Partners
Do some Google searches for what is coming up and plan a trip around that, if possible.
- Look for historic places and re-enactments.
- Many cities have miniature golf. Several cities have The Putting Edge (glow-in-the-dark putt putt).
- Escape Rooms are a fun group thing to do and can be found in more and more cities.
- Many gourmet food stores have, tasting parties, cooking classes, and events.
- Arrange for a Painting with a Twist art session.
We have a very unique opportunity this year. On August 21st this year, the United States will experience a full solar eclipse, crossing from Oregon to South Carolina. Rarer still, the Sun will actually rise while totally eclipsed in Oregon. I’ve been thinking of ways to visit a family or two with a short trip to see the eclipse. Start planning now, especially if you’ll need to make reservations for lodging in the path of the eclipse.The eclipse is passing right over several major cities, many of which will have eclipse festivals:
- Corvallis, Oregon
- Idaho Falls, Idaho
- Jackson, Wyoming
- Lincoln, Nebraska
- Kansas City, Missouri
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Carbondale, Illinois
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Smoky Mountain National Park
- Columbia, South Carolina
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Find more in this complete list of locations.
This NASA video shows you the most accurate path. The closer you are to the center, the longer the eclipse will be for you.
Orlando Ideas (or Your City, Too)
For the Disney ideas I’m about to suggest, boat rides on the property are free and can be a fun way to get around between resorts. If you want to visit a Magic Kingdom resort, enter the parking on the far right, tell the attendant which resort you’re visiting, and they’ll wave you through. You do not need to pay for parking.
- Take a family to walk around The Art of Animation resort at Disney (best playground).
- Go to Disney Springs for a variety of things to do. Check out T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe, even if you don’t eat there. Earl of Sandwich is a popular eatery, so you’ll wait in line. There’s giant Lego displays, a small train, and a carousel for the kids. Stay for the new drone show at night.
- Explore one of the Disney resorts together. Sit by the fire at Wilderness Lodge and watch the geyser near the lake go off on the hour.
- We like to go to The Grand Floridian or the Polynesian, ride the monorail, and watch the fireworks across the lake from The Magic Kingdom.
- Go to the Animal Kingdom Lodge early in the morning to see the animals and, optionally, for the African breakfast buffet at Boma (pricey, but cheaper than dinner).
- All the resorts have large gingerbread houses in December.
- Walk around the Boardwalk area and rent a surrey bike.
- Have a make-your-own-pancakes breakfast at the mill in Fort DeLeon Springs State Park.
- There’s plenty to do in DeLand, which has a historic downtown and lots of eateries. Catch a Stetson baseball game or a concert on their beautiful campus (details here).
- Gatorland is an affordable half-day park.
- You might have a favorite thing to do over in the International Drive area.
- The Gaylord Palms is amazing just to walk around. You’ll have to pay for parking. Do the Mediterranean buffet. Check out their Christmas events.
- Hang out at Jetty Park for the beach or watch the cruise ships or even a rocket launch.
- Go on an airboat ride.
- Old Town Kissimmee has lots to do.
- See the manatees in the winter at Blue Springs State Park.
- Take the Winter Park canal boat tour.
- Also in Winter Park, The Morse Museum of beautiful Tiffany glass has free admission every Friday evening, November through April.
- Treat your friends to Farris and Foster’s where they can make their own chocolates to take home.
- Walk around Celebration, Florida. Check out some of their events. The Market Street Cafe is an affordable restaurant. Rent bikes behind the Bohemian Hotel.
(If you use Groupon or Living Social discounts, see NOTES.)
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the usual going to church or eating together. Whatever activity you choose, will you be able to have natural conversations? Will it be too noisy or will you be in a situation where you’ll be listening to a tour guide and unable to talk? Breaking the mold of what people are used to doing together might make your time together more memorable for all of you. I hope these have sparked ideas of your own to express your appreciation for your team and to get to know them better.
If you missed part one of this series, Appreciation Gifts for Ministry Partners, be sure to check it out.
Do you have ideas to share?
Pass these ideas along to your friends!
- Groupon or Living Social discounts are great for your city or the one you’re visiting. You may reimburse them when you have proof that you were using them for a valid reimbursable expense. (UPDATE: 02/21/2017 4:20 PM)
- I also recommend joining the Facebook group, MPD Sharing of Ideas. If you’re on Cru Global staff and not yet a member of this group, email me at e4e at cru.org to be invited. We have over 1,500 members who are very active answering questions and passing along ideas for all things MPD. Their rich experiences will bless you.
- In the photo, I’m standing next to an MAF plane at the annual Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in and Expo in Lakeland, Florida. Our ministry partners are pilots in Alaska. We had a fun day looking at planes, learning about their life in Alaska, and stayed for the air show. (JAARS shared a joint display area with MAF.)