Effective Church Outreach & Ideas to Foster a Loyal Following
At ChMeetings, we understand the importance of an effective church outreach program. As overall religious attendance has been dwindling over the past decade, churches need to be more creative than ever when it comes to attracting new members and retaining their current ones.
Why an Effective Church Outreach Program Is Important
Church outreach isn’t just about growing your church. It’s about spreading warmth throughout your community. Church outreach and doing good deeds go hand in hand. To attract the respect of your community, your church needs to have a name and a face that people can recognize.
At the same time, modern outreach programs today usually involve an online aspect to them. For instance, according to Statista, Facebook has more than 2.910 monthly active users. With TikTok’s 1 billion active monthly users, 60% of these are Gen-Zers, a demographic churches have a harder time reaching out to. If you want an effective outreach strategy that engages with the younger generation, you’ll need to be online.
(Statista, 2022, in millions)
A Brief Guide To Church Outreach
Setting up an event isn’t simple. Effective church community outreach requires you to create a marketing plan and execute it.
Set Measurable Objectives
Run your outreach campaigns with a specific goal in mind. Sure, everyone wants to grow their church. By how much do you want to grow it? How long do you project it to take? Do you have a plan to accommodate all these new followers? There are a lot of questions you should ask before you dive in. You then need to set a goal like “accumulate X new members by the end of the year”. Relevant metrics to metrics to keep track of include:
- Event attendance numbers
- Email subscribers
- Social media engagement rate
- Sunday mass attendance numbers
Develop a Funnel
Every successful church outreach involves a funnel that helps determine how connected your members are to your church. After all, the main goal of your church outreach program isn’t just to attract new people to your initiatives. It’s to create an engaged community. Attendance numbers won’t matter if they do not stay and become loyal members.
We recommend that you develop a funnel in three stages and define which initiative goes where:
- Awareness: These are initiatives that bring awareness to your church as a whole. They include building a social media following, organizing events that aren’t strictly religious, such as multicultural food festivals or even litter cleanup.
- Engagement: These consist of initiatives that entice casual members of your congregation to participate in, such as board games night, Christian concerts, and so on.
- Conversion: By this point, your most engaged members will participate in these initiatives. For kids, examples include going to weekly Bible studies and vacation Bible camps.
In each stage, we recommend that you find ways to collect the attendees’ email addresses or encourage them to follow you on social media. For instance, during the event, you can have a sign-up sheet available for people who want to get regular updates about your next event. You can also let the attendees know that they should follow you on social media:
Creative Church Outreach Ideas
In this article, we will be mostly providing outreach ideas around the first two stages of the funnel as initiatives related to conversion tend to be more personal and specific to your following.
Being Active On Social Media
Most young people are on Instagram and TikTok, many of whom you might want to reach out to. For instance, the #church hashtag on TikTok has a whopping 6.5 billion views.
We do understand that the main goal of your outreach is to get local members that will attend your events. That said, creating a social media presence can be a fun way to provide fun, regular updates around your community and bring members closer together. It can also humanize the way people see your church and make you more appealing to the younger community.
As a general rule of thumb, keep your content light-hearted and funny. And don’t think too seriously about which content to post. Sometimes, a funny TikTok on dozing off during a Sunday mass can unexpectedly go viral:
Why not celebrate the multicultural flavors of your community by organizing a food festival. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the different cultures of your fellow members, to discover new dishes you might not be familiar with, and to attract people who might not have heard of your church!
For instance, this catholic church hosts an annual Lebanese food festival. It’s one of the biggest in the area and attracts people from all over the region:
A community garden can be an effective way to make use of the extra space your church might have and turn it into something that nourishes your community. A Toronto-based Anglican church, for example, has done exactly that, turning a once derelict private area into a community asset.
Concerts are one of the perfect ways to promote local artists while bringing crowds of people together. For instance, Christian organization YMCA regularly organizes Christian concerts to reconnect with their young members:
Board Game Night
What better icebreaker for people in your community than a board game night? You can have hours of fun playing all manner of games. The best part is that it’s hard for people to run out of things to say. Conversation flows naturally while you’re playing. You can publish a post on social media like the one below or send an email announcement. Tell people to invite their friends over, as well, to increase your reach!
We’d be hard-pressed to call litter cleanup “fun”, but it is a great way to give back to your community and attract like-minded people along with it.
Hosting a trash pickup to help beautify your neighborhood will not go unnoticed. People will wonder why there’s no more litter in the streets and your church will get the credit. Even if you don’t attract any new members with this activity, it will at least bolster your reputation.
For instance, this church organized an Earth Day cleanup walk in their neighborhood, an initiative which got covered by the local newspaper:
Breaking bread is an excellent way to spread the word of God. For instance, Christian organization ChurchHealth regularly organizes cooking classes to help people lead healthier lives:
You’re teaching people a valuable skill that they can use for long afterward. Try running themed cooking classes that focus on a particular set of ingredients or cuisine.
Hosting events for a holiday can help make that time of year feel more festive. Plus, there’s no need to come up with a theme since it’s already there for you. People feel a lot more naturally social during these holiday times, so it’s good to capitalize on that feeling.
You could host a 4th of July barbecue competition. Alternatively, an Easter egg hunt at a local park. The opportunities are endless. Take the planning one step further. With ChMeetings, you can fill in your Chistian holiday calendar with events that reel people in:
Recreational Sports League
Sports can be a fun and effective way for churches to increase the impact of their mission and promote a healthy lifestyle. It is a great opportunity to be active, play with others, and foster a healthy sense of competition.
Sports leagues are also great for socializing and are an easy way to become an institution in your neighborhood. In fact, you can even organize a church sports league competition with other churches in your area to interact between communities, like this one.
Here’s an interesting twist on the bake sale, why not host a bake-off instead? People love to get competitive when it comes to food and desserts. Give everyone a chance to showcase their cake-making skills and choose the best one. Plus, you could run the competition yourself and sample some of the delicious treats. This church had a fun idea of organizing a church competition inspired by The Great British Bake Off:
Movie nights are a great way to target a specific demographic. For instance, if you’re trying to attract young families to your church, then you should host a family movie night featuring popular kids’ movies.
You still need to find a way to make this a social experience. Naturally, movies don’t require anybody to talk to each other. You could host a meet and greet beforehand with some light refreshments.
If your area has a lot of local trails, then you should organize a hiking club. Walking through nature is refreshing, and also a good opportunity to have deep conversations with the people who come along. It’s also a great way to promote healthy living in your community too.
Manage Your Church Outreach With ChMeetings
Many were struggling with church outreach ideas, especially during the pandemic. Now that people are out and about again, it’s going to be easier to host events. People are eager to connect again.
Once you have some event ideas, you can begin planning and organizing them using ChMeetings. Our built-in event management system accelerates a lot of the tedious event planning processes. Furthermore, it organizes them all in one place so you don’t need to scramble to coordinate everything. Try it out for free.