By Jonathan Howe
Outreach events for churches can be predictable in the fall. Your church likely has a back-to-school event for kids, a fifth quarter for students, and a fall festival for families already on the calendar. It’s just what churches do.
But what if you tried something else—maybe something with an intentional evangelistic focus that your community might not expect? These ten outreach ideas will allow your church to be noticed in your community and, most importantly, provide your members with several opportunities for gospel conversations.
1. Sponsor a booth at the county/state fair. County fairs are a big deal in our part of Tennessee. And the fair in my county, Wilson County, is the biggest of deals. Several churches from the area sponsor booths at the fair and provide free face painting or even henna tattoos as a means for gospel conversations. The key is to be strategic with your booth and to train your workers in gospel conversations.
2. Wear church t-shirts to a local event. This could be related to the previous item or a few others in this list. Having your church members wear church t-shirts to a specific event—especially one at which your church is serving—can raise awareness of the church.
3. Host a hunting season event for men. The start of hunting season is a major event for men from all over. Consider hosting a kickoff event for hunting season with a men’s dinner and have the men in your church invite their friends. You can use this as a catalyst to launching new small groups as well.
4. Honor first responders in a worship service. In the US, September 11 is designated as Patriot Day and many communities honor first responders. Your church could invite and provide a breakfast for all first responders then briefly recognize them in the worship service.
5. Sponsor a breakfast for teachers at a local school. School starts in just 11 days here in Tennessee, but other school systems will be starting up shortly as well. Use the new school year as an opportunity to minister to local teachers, administrators, aides, bus drivers, and staff.
6. Staff the concession stand at a local park or stadium. Want your church more involved in the community? Then be where the community is. And in many communities, that’s the local football games on Friday nights. What if your church staffed the concession stand at the local games? Or maybe you can staff the local kids’ sports stadium or park. Parents will appreciate the service, and your presence will likely result in gospel conversations and invites to church worship services.
7. Coordinate a community outreach day through your small groups. Pick a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for all small groups to participate in a community outreach event. If you provide a list of projects to the groups, they can choose the project that fits their group the best.
8. Hold a family movie night on the church lawn. Autumn evenings tend to get dark earlier and the weather can be quite nice. Consider having a movie night on the church lawn and encourage families to invite their neighbors and friends. Provide water and popcorn and you’re sure to have a great event that families will enjoy.
9. Host an Invite Your One day. We’ve been blown away by the response we’ve seen from churches who’ve hosted Invite Your One days. The fall is a great time to host these events, and they can be great catalysts for creating an atmosphere of inviting in your church.
10. Set a gospel conversation goal for your church and provide training. In all of these outreach events, make evangelism a clear focus for the event. The gospel conversations that can result from these intentional outreach events can be a major catalyst for growth and revitalization in your church. But this will only happen if your church members are trained and intentional. So set a goal, train your members, and provide the opportunities for gospel conversations to happen.
These are just 10 examples. What else would you add to this list? Does your church already do some of these?
Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.