Get Creative With Outreach!

While it is sad to admit, many churches have really messed up in the outreach department.  They fall into the trap of doing the same things over and over, year in and year out.  These outreach events become their traditions.  Some churches even go so far as to invent holidays to add their events to the calendar.  And despite all of this hard work and effort, many outreach events fall short of their desired outcome.  Why does this happen, year after year, event after event?

Sometimes the answer is a vision issue that points to a church that is simply off course.

Sometimes it is a church that has gotten into an unhealthy pattern of trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.

Sometimes the answer is far less obvious.  Sometimes, we simply lack the creativity.

So what are some ways churches can break out of the funk and get creative with their outreach?

  • Allow creative people to be a part of the planning process.  They can help you out you know.
  • Dare I say it?  Look around at other successful churches and see what they are doing.  Don’t do their event exactly, but understand that there is a reason it’s working as well.  Or share your ideas with them and get their input on the idea.  Brainstorm if with them, gather some information and improve your chances of having a successful event.
  • Spend the money to send your creative people to an outreach conference.  Allow them the freedom to run with a few ideas.
  • Get specific with your events.  Don’t be the church that says, “We’re going to reach everyone, with this one event, and all of Chicago will be Christians by tomorrow.”  We all know, that simply doesn’t work.  That’s about as effective as a radio station playing everything from polka to rap.  People would give up on that station.  We must be more specific about who we are trying to reach.
  • Design different sized events.  Not every event you do in the outreach area has to be for thousands of people.  Some events can be designed for mid-sized groups, around 50-100.
  • Partner with organizations in your community.  There might be an area of town that is reached through the local food pantry and housing authority.  Partner with them to help meet needs of people.  This is a way of taking the Gospel “out” of the building and to the people.  Partner with restaurants, car washes, gas stations or whoever else you can think of, to pull off an event.  Partnering with an organization that is already doing some of this work is great, because then the church doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
  • Don’t assume that outreach has to be an event.  Many times we think our outreach is an all or nothing, put all of our eggs in this basket, kind of a thing.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Outreach can be done strategically through individuals in the church as well.  Don’t underestimate the power of empowering your people to outreach in their own neighborhoods.  Block parties, neighborhood movie nights, handing out bottles of water or serving at a community event near their home.  All of these can be just as powerful as a big church event designed for the thousands.
  • Force yourself to throw away the box you have put yourself in with outreach.  Clear the calendar.  Try something new.  Get crazy.  Stop doing the same old thing, just because.  (I realize, this one is easier said than done.  Been there, done that, have the souvenirs.)
  • Come to a solid understanding of what outreach is about.  Don’t lose sight of the vision, that outreach is for those who are “out” of the church.  If you don’t see outreach as for people outside the church, then you are “in”-reaching and boiled down is just glorified fellowship.  There is a time for fellowship, but not when you’re trying to reach people.
  • Stop asking the question, “How much will this cost?”  That question has killed more great ideas and initiatives than I even care to estimate.  That question comes way down the road, after questions like, “Why haven’t we thought of that before?  That’s a great idea, but how can we make it reach more people?  How can we use this to maximize impact for the hurting in our area?  How can we utilize this event to tell the most people about Jesus?”  These questions are far better to ask.  If all of those questions can be answered and God is giving you a vision for this outreach event, the money is a non-issue.  Even if the money isn’t there, God will honor the risk.

These are just a few of the ideas that I thought of.

What am I missing?  What would you add to this list?

How has your church gotten creative through outreach?

What did you do?

How did you plan it?

What did you learn from the experience?

Share as many ideas as you would like in the comments below.  We can only help each other this way.  After all, we’re all playing for the same team.

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About Stan Rodda

Follower. Husband. Father. Shepherd. Apostle. Husker.

Posted on July 29, 2010, in Church, evangelism, God, holidays, Leadership, marketing, missional communities, missionary, outreach, pastors, resources, the basics, the culture, the nation, the world. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Well put! I am obviously an advocate for creativity, but I will also go so far as to say that it is quickly becoming the lone core driver of successful organizations everywhere.

    These are all great ideas that could also apply to the business and non-profit arenas as well. Once again, a very good post!

  2. There is no “Christmas” event around this area. I’d LOVE to follow in Harvester CC’s footsteps and do Journey to Bethlehem or something similar. Salivating to do this!

    I have a young woman in my circle of friends who has had a colorful past. She has a draw for other young women with similar colorful pasts. Many of these don’t have a safe place to go to give them an opportunity to put their lives together–or a place where they can experience and feel and see God’s Love without judgement. What an excellent ministry to give them a place to go!

    Battle of the Bands Ministry–a coffee house environment where people can share their arts. Have Band nights, poetry, drawing, storytelling… scheduled for different weekends.

    4th of July sermon at home was about our Heritage… he talked about our gov and how so many people are pointing their fingers at our Leaders. So Christian organizations were formed and helped get some elected and many times they didn’t make decisions in step with the organization… the whole point was that this change has to start with the people and then went into the Cane Ridge Revival in KY. Here we sit in the side yard of DC and what if revival began right here? Cane Ridge style? It meant inviting change, inviting outsiders to come from (dare I say?) other denominations, speaking truth in love. Lives were changed. The entire state of KY changed as a result of this and movements were started.

  3. We as the church should also be about teaming with other churches regardless of denominational affiliations. Becoming united we get more bang for the buck.

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