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Community Outreach Ideas for Churches
Seven Ways to Reach the Community and Make the Church Grow
Churches that don't grow will stagnate and eventually die. Church growth is crucial. Those who realize this may be committed to growing the church, but they run short on church growth ideas.
Attitudes and Church Growth
Before a church can effectively experience growth, it must address the attitudes within the congregation. A church can have wonderful church growth ideas and attempt all the trendy strategies, and yet still be "dead in the water." A church must first deal with its internal culture, before it can effectively reach out to its community.
In addition to "sin in the camp" (and many churches do struggle with serious moral issues), one attitude barrier that comes up time and again is the fact that some churches simply don't want to grow.
Fortunately, the early apostles and church fathers didn't feel this way. When Jesus commissioned his disciples to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), they took him seriously. As a result, Christianity spread throughout the ancient world at a staggering rate, even in the face of persecution.
Testifying to this spirit of evangelism and outreach, Justin Martyr wrote in ca. 160 A.D.: "There is not one single race of men, whether barbarians, or Greeks, or whatever they may be called - whether nomads, vagrants, or herdsmen living in tents - among whom prayers and giving of thanks are not offered through the name of the crucified Jesus."
Clement of Alexandria affirmed this in ca. 195 A.D., when he added, "The word of our Teacher did not remain in Judea alone - as philosophy did in Greece. Rather, it was diffused over the whole world, over every nation, village, and town."
Free Church Growth Ideas
Assuming one's church has the right attitude toward growth and evangelism, the following community outreach ideas are offered for prayerful consideration:
- Family Movie Nights - With the right facilities available, a local church can purchase a viewing license and host family-friendly movie nights for the community.
- "Trunk or Treat" - Why not offer a safe "Trick-or-Treat" Halloween alternative to local parents? Many churches have had great success with "Trunk or Treat" events, where church members dress up in costume, decorate their cars, and give out candy to neighborhood kids from their car trunks.
- Easter Egg Hunt - Bring the neighborhood kids out for an Easter Egg Hunt, either on the Saturday before Easter Sunday or perhaps following a special "Sonrise" service or even after the main morning worship service. To add a definite spiritual dimension, church members can insert verses into the eggs along with candy, of course.
- Teacher / Police / Firefighter Appreciation - Honor teachers, police officers, emergency personnel, or firefighters at a special service and/or ceremony.
- Marriage or Parenting Workshop - Put on a marriage (or parenting) seminar, and invite the entire community. With all the marriages currently in turmoil and divorce still on the rise, there's definitely a "market demand" for such an outreach.
- Car Show - Car enthusiasts are everywhere, especially classic car lovers. Many churches have capitalized on this, by welcoming car shows to their property.
- Outdoor or Indoor Concert - Some churches have held outdoor bluegrass concerts or indoor "praise and worship" events, and have drawn huge numbers of people in the process. There are many music groups out there that will come for a meal and love offering. Such a concert need not be expensive.
Not every idea will work for every church. Each church will need to study its community, consider its resources, and determine which ideas will work for them. The important thing is for each church to commit itself to God in prayer, have the right attitude toward outreach, and be willing to take action.
- Quotes from Clement of Alexandria and Justin Martyr were taken from A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David W. Bercot. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998).
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