By Jason Daye
Outreach helps your church build bridges into your community to effectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ. These bridges go two ways: you want your people in your church going out into your community and you want people in your community coming into your church. So, how can your church build those bridges? Here are considerations for planning your church’s annual outreach calendar.
Your church likely saw an attendance spike around Christmas. Always have something to invite people back to experience in your church. At Christmastime, this may be inviting people to a New Year’s Eve event for families or hosting a parent’s night out and offering childcare. A sermon series on fresh starts may also be another opportunity in January.
Think about ways to build bridges around college bowl games or the Superbowl. You could preach a football-themed sermon or host a tailgate party at your church. Or maybe the best opportunity is to encourage your church members to host football parties at their homes and invite their friends and neighbors who are not a part of your church. When thinking about February, outreach opportunities could include a marriage enrichment sermon series or event.
As you move into March and April, think about outreach opportunities around Easter. How can you connect with people before Easter to invite them to your Easter services? Or maybe your church could host an Easter egg hunt in your community to build relationships with people. Sending direct mail pieces may also be effective in communicating your Easter service times and events.
You must then think about what to do after Easter, likely your highest attendance week of the year. One way may be to start a new sermon series on Easter Sunday so there’s a natural invitation for people to come back the following week. Other opportunities include hosting a spring carnival or inviting the community to participate in a spring cleaning at a local school or park which your church organizes.
As you move into May, think about Mother’s Day. Maybe it’s honoring the women who attend your services, but it could also include events like hosting a 5k race that benefits a local pregnancy resource center. You may also think about events around graduation and the end of the school year and host a block party for kids and their families.
Summer months provide great opportunities for your church’s outreach. An option may be to host an outdoor movie night, maybe in partnership with another community organization or business. You could hand out bottles of water or snacks that display a custom label with your church’s information. These could also be distributed beyond movie nights at local parks, baseball fields, or other outdoor recreation areas. Just be sure you have site licenses for movies or permission from parks first.
Also consider events around summer holidays like Father’s Day and Fourth of July. Another option might be to host a sports, art, or drama camp. Check with your local schools to see which may be of most interest to those in your community. As summer ends and school begins, consider hosting a back to school block party or gather school supplies to distribute to those in need.
Fall is a often time when people will re-engage church, after the busyness of summer ends. Think about ways to equip your church to invite their friends during this time. Other fall options include honoring local heroes such as emergency responders and teachers, hosting a trunk or treat or fall festival, and tailgate parties at local high school or college football games. As you prepare for Christmas, your church may offer free gift wrapping to your community or adopt families to bless over the holiday season.
No matter what the month or season, you must always look at the needs and events of your local community as you prepare your annual outreach calendar. Brainstorm, prepare, and execute your outreach efforts well to help people know who you are as a church in your community and build bridges to effectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
Adapted from our FREE Easter Preparation Guide and Engaging in Community Outreach course on Ministry Grid!