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Church Outreach Ideas: The Definitive Guide

By September 10, 2019 No Comments

Church outreach ideas come at you fast and often from many directions. Or there’s total silence. Brainstorming outreach ideas is frustrating, it takes time to work out the logistics. All the while, you’re hearing about churches on the other side of town doing some pretty cool things. But you’re not them. You don’t have those same resources. Or you do, and you don’t want to copy them. Either way, rest assured. You have something they don’t. A unique, collective skill set. Your congregation. Everyone there has different resources and skills to offer. Take hold of that.

Still, it’s aggravating to figure out doable projects. Fortunately, there’s no lack of ideas here.

Family Nights

The outreach idea first on the list focuses on entire families. This reaches both your congregation and the local community roaming the urban wilds.

We all want our families to be able to get along and spend time together (enjoyably). That’s the cornerstone of the community (even Christ makes us His brothers and sisters).

Movies

A public movie night draws crowds. You probably don’t want to show an R rated film here. Nor do you want to show a scary movie. There could be little kids coming. But it can’t be too juvenile either. You want the parents and teenagers to enjoy it too. So, Disney, it is.

Regardless of age, most people enjoy a Disney classic like Mary Poppins. Or you could show like Harry Potter if it's the right time of year.

Either way, once a month, you should set up a projector in a local park, or in your parking lot. For colder months, move it on inside and offer hot refreshments.

Cookouts

During the warmer months, who doesn’t love to grill and play volleyball? A park is a great place for this. If it’s at the church because that’s your only option, fine. But more people will be drawn to community volleyball and free burgers. Black bean for the plant-based folk in the group.

Craft Nights

This one does have some investment. As much investment as supplies for a cookout. But you can ask people to donate. Glitter, paint, glue, paint, canvas, mixed mediums, and anything else you can think of.

Whole families can make a project together. Or they can each do something individually. You could suggest families partner with the visitors who show up.

Building something together is special. It brings unity to your outreach.

Parent-Specific Meals or Events

If you’re not sold on having the kids around the whole time, there are other options. Think of something specific. For example, a meal focused on exotic meats, to track down and lure the hunters around the city. Those niche events draw varied crowds. Think about what your city is known for, and go from there.

Holiday Alternatives

If you’re looking to capitalize on holiday spirit, a few events stand out. Some aren’t exactly holidays, but people celebrate them nonetheless. They’re worth taking notice of.

Trunk or Treat

Halloween! One of the best holidays. We dress up in fun costumes and eat candy!

But not every neighborhood is safe.

Parents want for as little mischief as possible around their kids on Halloween night. You can help. Your church can host a Trunk or Treat. Use the parking lot. Set up cars in a winding trail. Have everyone decorate the back of their cars. Have fun dressing up in that signature spooky cartoon way Halloween calls for. Then have people come to follow the trail, stopping at each trunk for a piece of candy and a costumed hello.

Super Bowl Safe

This is a controversial day. On one hand, the people of the US love the super bowl. It’s an incredible opportunity to host a safe, family-friendly party for anyone to come and enjoy. (Especially for the commercials). On the other hand, it’s the highest-trafficked day of sex and labor slaves in our country.

Yeah. Don’t be fooled.

Human trafficking is a huge issue in the US.

The super bowl is a trafficker’s favorite opportunity to sell people. So your other option for the super bowl night is to host a prayer service. Or even find a way to get involved.

4th of July Cookout

Back to the fun outreach! Fireworks and hotdogs. If your church is in a state with no ordinance on fireworks, oh boy. Time to host a show! (With the fire marshal’s supervision of course).

Games, food, and celebration. It’s all ample opportunity to connect, and plenty will show.

The Easter Hunt

Easter is about the resurrection. We know that. We cherish it.

But leading into it, you can raise awareness for an Easter service by hosting a scavenger hunt. It’s a way to get people active and have fun. Don't stop there though!

Host a meal afterward, and try to make it multi-cultural. You'll be able to entice and accommodate the various families who take part. You never know who needs love.

Service Projects

This is a more traditional idea of outreach projects. But there are a few things people usually overlook. Along with the mainstream ideas, take notice of the ones you haven't seen much of before. They're more important than you might realize.

Seniors

Senior living and loneliness often come hand in hand.

Sometimes the resources there are great and very helpful. But many times the people there feel forgotten. Scripture emphasizes that with grey hair comes wisdom. Yet the world forsakes it's wise and leave them to homes all their own. The wise and forsaken need to see the fruit of their lives in us all. They need your companionship. They need your love and respect.

Here’s an article about the mental health danger seniors face in assisted living homes.

Neighborhood Cleanup

Many times the elderly or handicapped live in the neighborhoods around us. Sometimes storms come ripping up their yards. Teams from your church can and should be going out to do a little yard work. Serve the communities with a bit of cleaning or landscaping. Then meet up for a group lunch after, and watch the friendships in your church flourish.

Construction

This work is a bit more intense. But some people don’t have a home. Some can't afford to a new one. Someone in your congregation may be able to help. Ask around, and see what you can do.

Soup Kitchen

This literally keeps starving bodies alive. That is the embodiment of the Good Samaritan, is it not? Soup kitchens offer a unique opportunity to help those in need. Those who can’t afford food for their families, like refugees, or the homeless, benefit. You not only keep people alive, but you also show them compassion exists. It can be life-changing for them, but only if you help.

Refugee Service

We love the idea of taking refuge in the Lord. But many neglects the refugees He’s sent to our communities.

There are people who hardly speak English. And they can’t get jobs. They can’t pay for food. Yet they have kids. And their family has shown the bravery it takes to come somewhere new. They’re willing to learn to live in a new place so their families survive.

Teach them English. Make friends of them. It's as simple as weekly coffee. Or you could offer more services. Even help house them. If you're not sure how to approach it, partner with the US committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

But reach out! It’s a golden opportunity for your congregation to be the salt of the Earth to hurting people.

Childcare

There are a few ways you can treat childcare as an outreach project. VBS may be the most obvious. Each year, near the beginning of summer, churches all over the US host VBS. It’s wonderful for the parents, great to teach the kids, and exhausting. VBS only comes once per year and is often looked forward to. Most of the kids have fun, so it’s worth the tiredness.

Aside from VBS, your church could also help each other out, and the local community. People need a date night. All relationships need work. So once in a while, say once per month, host a childcare service and allow parents to go on a much-needed date night. What a blessing.

There is one more childcare service worth mentioning. International childcare.

Yes.

International childcare.

It could be hosting the Children of the World choir. But think more long-term. Foreign exchange students need trusted homes to come study abroad in. It expands your outreach to all the corners of the world by bringing the corners to you.

Paid Work for Those in Recovery

This can’t be emphasized enough how impactful this is. Most recovery places are limited programs. They don't have limitless finances to keep providing a lifelong recovery facility.

After a while, the recovering men and women are forced to take on more responsibility than they’re ready for. It leads to relapse and brokenness.

If you can provide paid work to the people in recovery, you can help save families. Brainstorm with your congregation to see how you can specifically help. Then reach out to local AA groups, and see how you can serve.

Events

Who doesn’t love a good event? Whole neighborhoods and entire city blocks will rally for the fun you host.

Concerts

If your church has the finances, you could pull in a pretty big name. Or ask if said person would volunteer for the cause of outreach.

Then partner with vendors, and make a street festival out of it.

Featuring at least one local band earns a bonus star. The point of the outreach is to engage the locals. Hosting this in a park or parking lot makes for some amazing Friday nights. Besides, it’s a pretty loud and fun way to engage the community around you.

Block parties

Maybe you want a DJ in place of a full band. With the right set up, a good DJ is a blast. With a DJ, host a block party to engage the neighborhoods often overlooked.

If you’re not sure whether a band or DJ would work better for these pop-up festivals, ask your congregation. Ask the people who live in the area. Find out what the demographic prefers.

Festivals and Conventions

Block parties and concerts aren’t the only formats for festivals. A vendor fair is another fun option for outreach events. Partner with local food vendors, craft vendors, and ministries. Scatter them throughout the fair. And then let the masses explore.

It'll help raise awareness for causes while providing a unique marketplace to explore.

If human trafficking is still on your mind, a great partner for you is Jars of Hope. Owner Jen Olsen loves to be a part of these events and would love to collaborate.

Art show

If you’re not up for hosting an entire fair yourself, you could partner with the county fair, and just get one booth.

But if you are up for it, and if art fills up a large part of the local culture, there's another great option. Host an art show! Promote local artists! It's a sure way to build relationships in the community around you.

Traveling Projects

Church outreach ideas sometimes involve a bit of travel. But that doesn’t always mean mission trips (yet). Sometimes it means retreats or youth-focused events. Restorative and educational opportunities await via camps and conferences

Camps

Camping in a hammock or tent isn’t for everyone. But something about nature is rejuvenating.

Cabins, tents, whatever your accommodation, it’s worth planning a camping trip. Nature displays the glory of God. In that, there is rest.

But this is still an outreach project. It isn't a regular camping trip. And an outreach camping trip usually has an itinerary. Like Snowbird camps in NC. Or worship focused staff retreat, to recharge the batteries. Use those to serve you. They'll help you keep serving in the long run.

Passion (GA)

If camping isn’t in your future, but travel sounds good, a city might be the choice for you. Passion conference in Georgia hosts thousands. They provide music and preaching in one of the largest Christian gatherings anywhere. Louie Giglio puts on an amazing event. All you have to do is buy tickets, load up the vans, and head out.

Creation Festival (PA)

This perfect blend between camping and conference is a unique experience. In PA, Creation Festival boasts vendors, multiple stages, and every genre of music they can get. This one is for sure a recommend for the youth group to get out there.

Winterfest (VA)

Winterfest is another youth-focused event. Lots of music. Lots of preaching. And the kids get college exposure at the largest Christian University in the world. Liberty University in Lynchburg VA hosts this every winter. It’s a great place to make connections, and bond around a stage in a massive arena.

By the way, that arena seats over ten thousand three times per week in its normal use.

If Liberty does wind up being the college your youth attend, get excited. It opens up tons of missions opportunities. There aren't many places with as many connections throughout the world as them.

Missions

Speaking of, go to all the ends of the Earth, right? Whether it’s another US city, a local mission, or a trip to another country, this is the definition of outreach. Some missions are medical and offer relief. Some are for pilots who drop supplies in the bush of Papua New Guinea. Others are for preaching. And still, others hone in on building new tribal relations. Then there’s always the underground ring of secret churches in Asia.

Short term

Most people think of themselves as short term missions folk, if they take any trips at all. But there is much work a short term person can do. Short term helpers are who go to the underground churches in China to teach. They help the residents there understand the gospel. It's amazing what they do. For a story on that, click here.

In other countries, short term aid also reinforces the work long term missionaries do. They grant credibility of gospel-based love via work and love. That adds greatly to the relationships missionaries across the world work to build.

Long Term

There are those within your congregation called to something more permanent. You should ask about setting up a permanent missionary abroad.

As a direct effect of help them learn how to make the move, your network of outreach will grow. Better yet, your church should sponsor them to stay there full time. Help fundraise to establish their long term presence.

New Tribes and Wycliffe Partners

If you’re not too sure how to get that started, there are a few organizations which can help. Those interested in unreached people groups should check out New Tribes. New Tribes trains and sends missionaries to the bush. There they build relationships with tribes. None of which speak our language.

A partner helpful to them, which may interest your congregation, is Wycliffe. Wycliffe translates the Bible into as many languages they can. But it takes time, and they need help. They want to be careful to uphold the principles Scripture carries.

Pray about it, and see what partnerships are out there. Those called to help may be sitting in your church.

Prayer

Prayer, a crucial leg upon which the Church stands. This is all for God, so it’s a good idea to consult Him. After all, it is His glory you want to magnify.

Services

Prayer services are an amazing way to reach out to those hurting. Hosting a Wednesday night prayer service can draw in those seeking help. Ask your congregation to come together and pray for a recent tragedy. You might even want to consider a prayer march as well.

City Walks

Taking the city by prayer is a way to show your love for it. Flood the streets with prayer and march to stand up for what’s right. Be a presence when hope is most desperately needed.

Invite other churches, and start downtown.

Pray as you go, all together, through each street.

Pray for each home, business, and person passing by.

It brings a sense of confidence in the Lord. He is sovereign, and when people do evil, we must all rely on Him. In showing that alone you can help others rise from the brokenness they’ve been cast down into.

Your Role and Your Goal

Think about your unique resources. Use your congregation’s connections. Does someone own a coffee shop? Offer a free concession somewhere public. Or to firemen and policemen. Does someone manage a superstore? Hold a school supply drive for the less fortunate. Does someone manage a sports complex? Host a league.

There are unlimited outreach projects to do to serve and reach out. Ask your congregation what their passions and abilities are. And boom. Plenty of church outreach ideas wait at your fingertips.

If you need more finances, NewFire Giving software is a fantastic way to ease the stress of fundraising

Church Outreach Ideas

. (Especially on Giving Tuesday).

And remember, because of your congregation, outreach is within your reach.

Stu Baker

About Stu Baker