As the world begins to open for larger gatherings again, people are starting to look for fun things to do. I work with a pastor who started planning father/daughter events as soon as his area opened up. The events filled up more quickly than anticipated and largely through community interest of non-church members. What a great outreach opportunity! This next season holds fantastic opportunity for outreach. Why not start planning social events? Date nights, game nights, father/daughter, mother/son, and/or parent/child events—all have been severely missed over the last year.
3 simple elements for a solid outreach event
Outreach events invite the community in to experience the goodness of fellowship. These events have the added bonus of encouraging your congregation to be externally minded and welcoming to new people. Here are 3 simple elements that help focus your event to be outreach oriented.
1. The invitation is open
The church social is a time honored tradition. It is a family-type gathering for the congregation to bond. In contrast, outreach events are an open house of sorts, where the beauty of God’s transformative work in the lives of his people is put on display. These events aren’t for the church first and then maybe open the invitation to the community in order to fill any empty seats. The primary focus is making those outside of the church family feel welcome. Before hosting an outreach event think through these questions:
- How has my congregation treated church social events in the past?
- What needs to change for church-sponsored social events to become outreach events?
- How will I prepare my congregation to embrace outreach events?
2. All feel welcome
New people and your congregation alike should feel welcome at an outreach event. This works best when clear vision has been cast and your church family feels empowered. At an outreach event, such as a father/daughter dance, the congregation takes on the role of party host. For events like this, it means strategizing special moments like photos, dances, and conversation. Party hosts enjoy the party AND they ensure that guests feel comfortable by being friendly, inviting, and helpful. Get your best event planners together to think through the details that answer the questions:
- How can I empower every person from our church community that attends this event to be a host?
- What details will ensure new people feel welcome?
Often, the trickiest part of outreach events is starting conversations. That is why icebreaker questions were born! To help you out, we’ve compiled a great list of icebreaker questions for various kinds of events. Click HERE for a FREE download.
3. The invitation is extended
When the invitation isn’t extended beyond the event, outreach has failed. If people felt welcome, they will want to know how to connect again. Providing clear next steps for new people could look as simple as inviting them to church services at the end of the evening or it could mean providing a list of upcoming services, bible studies, service opportunities and social events. Before your outreach event, take time to think through these questions:
- What demographic is this event reaching?
- What is the next best steps we can offer to someone new who attends and enjoys this event?
Opportunity for Outreach
Those who follow this blog know that throughout the pandemic I have asked time and again, “What opportunities does Covid offer?” The mission didn’t change because of Covid. God was still at work and it has been up to us to discern and join in the work the Holy Spirit has been doing in those around us. Now that we are getting closer to society being fully opened again, let’s look for opportunity to engage in the mission of making disciples in the new normal.
130 Outreach Icebreakers- A compilation of icebreaker questions that will get the conversation rolling and open toward building authentic relationships.
Guide for Discipling- A while back I worked to identify core areas Christ calls us to grow in as disciples. In examining the scriptures, I discovered that we are called to experience relationship with God, to respond to the Holy Spirit, to serve sacrificially, to give generously, to make disciples, to experience authentic relationships, to be personally transformed, and to take part in the transformation of our communities. As Christians, we are likely really solid in a few of these areas but could use some work in others. I’ve developed a nonlinear study to help people take the best next step in their journey as a disciple of Christ. The whole series is available in print, as a downloadable PDF, or you can chose to download just one study at a time. I’ve even worked with several denominations to translate this study into context and vernacular that works well within their traditions.
The Map of Discipleship- This FREE resource is a great way to identify the areas of discipleship you (or those you are discipling) are strong in and is helpful in discovering the area God is calling you to grow in next.