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Southern Missouri Ministry Network Loans Legos to Help Churches Build Community Events

The Southern Missouri Ministry Network is encouraging churches to get creative with their outreaches and is helping to offset some supply costs by loaning Legos for family events.

“This outreach drew families and people from the community better than any other outreach that I’ve ever seen.”

When Blue Springs Assembly in Blue Springs, Missouri, hosted its first kids ministry Lego night, Chip S. Dudden, 47, the children’s ministry and discipleship director for the Southern Missouri Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, was immediately intrigued.

“There’s something about Lego that brings families together in a really unique way because everybody loves playing with them,” he remarks. “They’re approachable for the entire family, from the preschooler to the grandma.”

Having bought Legos for his ministry in the past, Dudden knows how expensive they can be.

“You could easily spend $500, $700 for enough Legos to accommodate an outreach the size of the one that I saw at that church,” he adds. “Your average church of 100 people can’t fit that in their kids ministry budget, but my office can.”

Inspired by the event in Blue Springs, Dudden went about searching Facebook Marketplace, eventually purchasing enough Legos to fill an entire large tub. Churches in their network are now able to visit the district office and borrow the tub for their own events.

The idea is simple: Each family unit that attends one of these outreaches is given a cup of Legos to start with and challenged to build the best creation they can in less than 30 minutes. Each event has some type of theme from which the builders can work. Chip says some churches have used themes like family vacation or mission in space.

At Dixon Assembly of God in Dixon, Missouri, Children’s Pastor Brandy L. McKinnon, 44, decided to theme her event “A Day at the Zoo.”

McKinnon says that those in attendance approached the theme with remarkable creativity. One mom of young children didn’t have much time to complete the challenge, so she told the judges that all the animals had already gone inside to sleep!

“It was really cute,” McKinnon says.

When the contest is over, the families leave the room so that the judges can deliberate. Dudden notes that this gives churches the opportunity to share their vision for their ministry and even present the gospel. After this, the families return to their creations, and prize winners are announced.

Dixon Assembly, which is situated in a town of about 1,500 people, has an average Sunday attendance of 150 people. McKinnon says that throughout the week, she has the opportunity to minister to about 50 kids, some of whom are bussed in and would otherwise be unchurched.

McKinnon wanted a way to connect with the parents of those children and felt that this Lego event would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

“If we get the kids in,” she says “we also want to, eventually, get the parents in.”

Through a network Facebook group, Dudden and other pastors were able to provide her with ideas for the event. McKinnon had even put on a Lego-themed Christmas play in December, and thus already had decorations ready to go.

Fifteen families attended, and out of those, two were families with adults that do not attend the church.

“We had more people than we necessarily had planned,” McKinnon said, chuckling. “So we had to do a run to the grocery store, but we worked it all out.”

McKinnon is considering making this an annual event for her ministry and hopes to see its reach expand in the future.

Dudden explains that in children’s ministry, certain events — Easter egg hunts, Trunk-or-Treat, Christmas plays, etc., come to be expected by the community. He adds that this can make it difficult for kids ministers to find event ideas that really grab the attention of those they are trying to reach and, furthermore, include parents in the festivities.

Dudden encourages other pastors that the fruit that comes from these Lego events is remarkable and that there can be success outside those tried-and-true outreaches.

“Give it a shot,” he says. “Try something new.”

“I think what surprises people is how easy it is to draw people to the event,” he adds. “Families are coming to churches and staying in churches. It’s a great opportunity.”

“Make sure you have a plan for after though,” he furthers. “There’s more to this than just that moment.”

In the past year, the Southern Missouri Ministry Network has loaned out the bin of Legos to six different churches. But Dudden says that ultimately, these tiny, colorful bricks aren’t really the point of their efforts.

“At the end of the day, this isn’t about Legos. It’s about Christ.”

Haley Victory Smith

Haley Victory Smith is a freelance journalist and copywriter. She has previously worked as a breaking news reporter for the Washington Examiner and an editorial fellow for the opinion section at USA Today.