Family Ministry Idea: Send Barnabas Bear On Vacation

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Here is a great way to encourage family discipleship over the summer vacation. It’s also a fun approach to stay connected with children. If you are looking for creative family ministry ideas, then this post is for you – all this from one helpful little teddy bear.
Barnabas Bear travels along with families to their summer destinations. He is any old bear with a mini-backpack attached. In the backpack, a notebook is included to document his adventures in photographs and journal entries. Whenever a child in your ministry leaves for vacation, have them take Barnabas with them. They will love the opportunity to have a friend on the road and will eagerly anticipate sharing about the trip when they return.
Not only do the kids get a kick out of Barnabas, but surprisingly parents do too! Families will brainstorm the funniest things to do with him. Our Barnabas has turned into quite the world traveler. His destinations have included Brazil with a mission team, Florida, Indiana, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Niagara Falls. He has been snapped mini golfing, life guarding, cheering on teams, camping, and attending church in other locations. A map can even be used to track his whereabouts for a bulletin board entitled, “Where in the World is Barnabas Bear?”
Not all families will have the luxury of taking a summer vacation, but that’s okay with Barnabas. He just likes to spend time together as a family. Barnabas loves to play in local parks, have picnics and barbecues, watch favorite family shows, play board games, and go out for ice cream. Barnabas may get so busy this summer that he may need to have his own calendar of events!

How To Start Barnabas Bear On His Adventures

  1. Find a bear and name him Barnabas (or any name of your choosing). If you want to get fancy, make one at a Build a Bear Workshop and dress him in cool summer attire.
  2. Attach a small bag to his back. In the bag, include a notebook with directions, some gospel tracts, and scripture memory cards. Since children tend to spend a lot of time in the car traveling, encourage them to memorize verses.
  3. The directions can read: Hi! My name is Barnabas. My name means “son of encouragement.” My goal is to encourage families by having them spend time together. Please take me with you on your travels this summer, whether you take a vacation or go out to the park with ice cream. Bring your camera to take a picture of me with your family. Post the photo in the notebook with an explanation of what we did when we were together. Be as creative as you would like and have fun!
  4. Include pictures and journal entries from yourself to provide an example.
  5. Introduce Barnabas to the children in your ministry. Pray for safe travels, good family times, and for God to be honored in the home and on the road.

Share Your Ideas

Have you done something similar in your ministry? Leave a comment below to let us know. What are some ways you connect with children while they are on vacation? How do you involve families over the summer in your ministry?

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