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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I’m hoping to have my church provide the powerade for a local football team during their two a day practices.
I love that.
This is a great idea!
All but one of he ten! Hosting a ‘Hunting Season’ ? Not unless you’re talking gophers! We live and work where ‘the deer and the antelope play’! Several of our finest attendees would leave the church! 🙂
In some cities, Major League Baseball teams host “Faith Day”. It is a day where, after the baseball game, Christian ballplayers share their testimony. That is followed by a Christian concert. This is an outreach opportunity to invite our friends and neighbors to. If your MLB team does not have a “Faith Day” – ask them to start one.
Yes. Several minor league teams do this as well. So it’s likely that there’s one near your church.
Blue Claws – playing in Lakewood NJ host our youth and other church’s youth in the owners room and 3 or so players come in and give their testimonies. They do this 2 times per season. Afterwards we leave for the game downstairs. It is extra exciting and of course we root for the players we just met… 🙂
Do you have a link or information on resources for “gospel conversation training” ?
In the resources section of evangelismrenewal.com there is a product called Three Circles. It has a training guide and everything.
I could not find the 3 Circles resource.
I think one of the best resources for gospel conversations and training is the “3 Circles Conversation Guide”. My church has used it and they love it.
We provide Gatorade for our guards at the local prison.
If you are in a university town, have a Sunday night dinner for students and then have one once a month. You might have it after a service. If you have a service, have your current students participate in it and the pastor needs to preach appropriately.
When hosting a community movie day, is there a rule/law that states that a church needs to have a movie license (like a CCLI) in order to show movies?
You have to buy the licensed version of the movie. Outreach.com sells them. I don’t know who else. It’s something like $100 for a small church, $200 for a medium church and up from there.
Some of the most current and popular Christian movies are licensed by Outreach and cost about $100/movie for a one-year license. Most other movies can be legally shown at church (you can’t charge admission) by registering with CVLI.com. Costs range from about $200-$600/year depending on church size. CVLI.com has instructions on how to look at IMDB and determine who the film distributor is and whether it’s covered under their license.
Yes. You can get licenses through some distributors or vendors like LifeWay. We offer that through LifeWayFilms.com
My church does almost all of these different outreach ideas.
They also do my outreach ministry: It’s 4 uMom.
It is reaching community mom’s we do not know & connect with moms we do know but do not want to attend church.
It is once a month during the school yr: (Sept-Apr.)
Community mom’s are faithful to the meetings when their children are on a school schedule.
It is very successful in building long lasting relationships, witness, win them & grow the church.
It doesn’t replace the the ladies group in the church but it is to be a branch out of the women’s ministry.
We see many many adults won to Christ. We then disciple & involve them in Bible studies, small groups etc.
Q & A:
I am the church business administrator and wear a church shirt almost every day. I often speak with store clerks, and offer invitations to visit our church. We now have a new family of 6 that came our way during the last 4 months.
We also take booths at various events. For example at a Home Show that focused on repair companies, we said there is another way to build a strong foundation, and had a prayer request box.
Lastly we take a booth at our community’s Fall Street Fair. We provide face painting, and coloring stations, and conversation.
The high school football team in our town is usually hosted by different organizations or restaurants for their pre-game meal on Fridays. Last year, we were able to make a connection and have the entire team in to be fed. We hope to do this again as another way of being present and active in the community.
Add one more to your list:
Invite people to bring food and help cook at your homeless dinners.
In the past 30 days, I’ve gotten two unchurched people to come to my church. People want to change the world and they want to be affiliated with a church that’s doing good.
At the local festival or fair, host a prayer booth – let folks drop by to have someone privately pray with them – even if they are asking for the wrong thing, the praying person can ask God to reveal himself to them and meet their needs
Buy 100 (or 50 or 40 or 25) hot dogs at the local football concession stand (helps whoever is doing the fundraising) – have church members (wearing identifying apparel) give away coupons for the free hot dogs randomly to fans as they enter at the ticket gate
I appreciate the emphasis on Gospel Conversations and our church is interested in signing up for the Gospel Challenge. One of the things we talked about in tracking the number of conversations is, how do we define a Gospel Conversation? As I’ve explored the website, I can’t find a clear definition of a Gospel Conversation anywhere. Is that intentional or can you point me to a place where we can find a definition we can use to help us gauge the number of true conversations we are having? Our thinking is that just inviting someone to church isn’t necessarily a GC, nor is simply bringing up the name of Jesus. Any thoughts on what things should “count” as a Gospel Conversation?