It’s never too early to plan, but it can often be too late if you truly want to be as effective as possible in your fall church outreach. In a recent survey conducted by Ryan Wakefield of Church Marketing University, over 69% of growing churches reported that they are planning their church calendar out by more than 3 months in advance. With this degree of forethought, your church will be better prepared—and thus more effective—as you reach out to your neighborhood. Advanced planning also leads to good stewardship of resources, time and relationships.
Review your planning process with your leadership team. Be sure to discuss the following questions:
- How far in advance are we currently planning?
- What is preventing us from planning further in advance?
- How can we remove these obstacles and develop a 3-12 month plan?
- What are some natural times throughout the year that we can plan to focus on reaching new people?
Church leaders often invest time in preparing how they will connect with their communities during the Easter and Christmas seasons, but overlook the value of a fall church outreach plan.
There are many reasons that fall is an ideal time to get intentional with your community outreach efforts:
- There are likely new families in your community. Many families move during the summer months so their children can start in their new school at the beginning of the school year. This means that new families have probably moved into your town, and newcomers are often looking for a place to connect. Is there any reason that your church shouldn’t be that place for them?
- Families have settled in after all their summer activities. As a father of six kids, I know just how exciting summer can be … and with all of that excitement often comes the lack of a normal routine. But once fall rolls around and school has begun, the family once again gets settled into a regular schedule.
- It presents a fresh start. Autumn has become associated with a new beginning, oftentimes even more so than in January. In fact, studies have shown that even long after finishing school and college, adults still look to the fall season as a time to embark on new endeavors. People also begin looking for new opportunities to both serve and connect.
- There is energy in the air. Ok, it might sound a bit cliché, but as we come out of the heat of summer and enjoy the first crisp days of autumn, there seems to be a sense of new energy. You can build on this momentum by mobilizing your people to engage in outreach ministries in your city. Rally your people to reach their neighbors.
- People are naturally looking for places to connect. Summer months seem to be more characterized by people scattering as they travel; fall is a time to reconnect. Think about the football games, bonfires, art walks, outdoor concerts, county fairs and other community events. These are all places where people are connecting, enjoying one another’s company and building relationships. Sounds exactly like what we want to experience at our churches, right?
Careful planning for community outreach is vital. And, the fall season is an ideal time for your church to connect with your neighbors. Do not wait for the days to grow shorter and the first leaves to fall, otherwise you will miss out on the incredible opportunity of rallying your church to reach your community. Begin planning early to experience a great season of building friendships as you welcome new guests into your church family.
With your neighborhood in mind, consider some of the following fall church outreach opportunities to reach new people:
- Big Day – Develop a theme for a big Sunday at your church and equip your people to invite their friends, coworkers and neighbors. You can help keep it simple for your leadership and volunteers by joining thousands of other churches across the country for National Back to Church Sunday.
- Tailgate Party – Does your community really get into high school football? Do you happen to live in a college town? If so, plan a tailgate party, cook up some burgers and hot dogs and give them away.
- Fall Festival – Collaborate with other organizations in your community and develop a festival for your town. Perhaps include some classic ‘county fair’ activities like pie-eating contests, blue ribbon cake contest or an old-fashioned frog jumping contest.
- Art Fair – Contact local artists and vendors and organize an art fair for your community. You can also set up a small stage and include live music throughout the day.
- Movie Under the Stars – Get a site license to publicly show a movie. Set up an outdoor sound system and put up a large screen. You are ready to go for a family film night.
The most important reason to plan a big fall church outreach event is because it gives your church the opportunity to purposefully participate with God in reaching as many people as possible with the hope of Jesus. Keep this vision in front of your people, encourage them to be praying about who they will invite and begin your planning early to allow ample time to prepare for a great harvest this fall!
With 20 years of pastoral leadership experience, Jason Daye is passionate about helping ministry leaders discover how God is already working in their unique ministry contexts. Daye also strives to help them uncover opportunities to build bridges into their neighborhoods to extend the hope of Christ. He dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. Jason is the Director of Ministry Development at Outreach, Inc. and lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children. He enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter @jasondaye.