For some churches, Fall also gives way to large community outreach events often called Harvest Parties, Fall festivals or Trunk or Treat. These events are often staffed by church members and attended by the community looking for a fun and safe place to take their kids. These events can be a great way for your community and friends to connect with your church. But what makes a Fall Community Outreach truly successful?
We probably need to start with the question: What do we want this Community outreach event to accomplish? In the ministry I'm learning that in many cases asking the right questions can be more valuable than having the right answers. Here are a few questions to consider as you prepare for the fall community outreach at your church.
1. Is the goal to give candy or share the love of Jesus? Evangelical churches would agree that the goal should be to share the love of Jesus by sharing the gospel. The candy, games, and food provide the opportunity for intentional connections. It's so important that we maximize the opportunity we have to share the gospel with our friends and neighbors at the event either in written or verbal form. The gospel will always be the greatest treat the family will leave with from your event.
2. Is the emphasis on attendance or engagement? Engagement is always the more important focus because of the gospel, see Question #1. Our attendance records how many people came to our church, while engagement records how many of our church went to the people. Are we ready and willing to sit with a family at a table and start a conversation with the intention of directing it to Jesus? Will we step out to strike up a conversation with the mom or dad waiting for their kid to get off the bounce house and invite them to church? Will we show and tell the kids at our game stations that God loves them? Given the opportunity will we offer to pray for the needs of those we've connected with? The people at your event know where the church is but engagement allows them to know who the church is. Use that opportunity to be a great ambassador for Jesus.
Keeping the gospel a priority and the personal engagement of the church members with guests is the true secret sauce to fruitful community outreach.
-Pastor Jamie Tickel
Those are good questions. I have found one area of confusion is around the idea of being an Ambassador for Christ. Some folks still carry the idea that it means to invite people to church. It is about your love for those folks, your involvement in their lives, and sharing the Gospel. In today’s world we need to lead with His love and not church. We need to be Christ forward and love folks.