Looking to grow your church? Outreach events are one of the best ways to reach new people, bringing them into your local congregation, connecting them with current congregants, and inspiring them to keep moving forward in their faith. Outreach is a way to see God at work in our communities and allow us to be a part of what He is doing to bring the increase!
What Are Outreach Events?
Outreach events can be anything from a small prayer meeting to a large multi-church event designed to engage the local community. They have several purposes: reach the unreached, reconnect with those once connected to your local congregation, and encourage regular churchgoers to persevere in the faith. In short, these events are intended to ignite hearts for Jesus and inspire people to live out their God-given purpose.
When you prayerfully plan your events, ask Jesus to show you how to use your gifts and resources to help others grow in their relationship with Him.
Things to know when using outreach events to grow your church…
- Praying is vital to the planning process.
- Responding to the felt-needs of the community is a powerful way to reach the lost.
- Understanding the hesitation of some to attend can help guide your prayers and plans.
Develop ideas of events that will reach the unreached and answer Jesus’ prayer request in Matthew 9:37-38…
- “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” (emphasis added)
Growing Your Church and Doing Outreach Starts with Prayer
Though obvious, it bears repeating: Prayer must be foundational to growing your church and planning outreach events. When we pray, we need to keep in mind God’s heart is that we move from people who pray to become people of prayer! In other words, pray about all things all the time.
Every new phase, new step, new outreach, and new program needs to be prayed about beforehand and continuously handed over to Jesus throughout.
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. We must do the same. Ask Him daily, “Jesus, how and what do we pray for when it comes to reaching the lost and growing Your church?”
Notice the words “your church.” Let us remember the local church we steward, work or volunteer at, and attend is not “our” church, though we might refer to it that way at times. It is Jesus’ church…
- “… and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”—Matthew 16:18 (emphasis added)
When planning outreach events or feeling led to make changes to grow the local church, remember the second part of this promise, “the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Though we might get frustrated with the process of church growth or think there is no movement happening, we can trust Jesus’ promise and His words: Hades will not overpower it.
Responding to Community Needs for Outreach Events
The phrase “outreach” or “outreach events” might be today’s church vernacular, but it isn’t a new concept or approach to reaching the lost. Jesus responded to the needs of those in the community all the time. He met people right where they were. One powerful example of responding to a need of someone in the community is meeting the Samaritan woman exactly where she was physically, emotionally, and spiritually (see John 4).
- He met her on her life journey.
- He engaged in conversation.
- He got to the root of her unfulfilled life.
- He spoke truth.
He gave sight, healed leprosy, and preached the Good News to many. His Spirit empowered the early church to do the same. And what was the result?
- “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”—Acts 2:46-47
Outreach events can be the catalyst that the Spirit of God moves through, igniting hearts for Jesus and calling them to make spiritual decisions.
There are several ways to respond to the needs of the community. Determine…
- Your outreach event location and size.
- If the intent is to foster reconnection and growth within the local congregation or Body of Christ.
- If the intent is to reach the unreached in your community.
- The type of activities, atmosphere, and venue that would best reach the identified target groups.
- The “why” of your event (what struggle, problem, or pain point can your event help people overcome).
If you’ve heard people in your congregation or community express needs (physical, emotional, and social), prayerfully consider if this is an area Jesus wants you to move into. As the Spirit begins to lead your outreach endeavors, resist the urge to focus only on growing your church attendance. Instead, remember growth results from meeting people where they are and meeting and praising God together in community.
Our goal with such events should be centered on advancing God’s Kingdom first and foremost…
- “’But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.’”—Matthew 6:33
Did You Know…? 3 Statistics About Church Attendance
Yes, seek His Kingdom first. And to do that, people must also hear about His Kingdom, right? This is where your outreach comes into play.
Kingdom Laborers can use outreach events as a tool to engage people right where they are…
According to the Pew Research Center…
- Only 17% of those between the ages of 18-29 attend church once a week/regularly.
- Approximately 35% of those between the ages of 30-49 seldom or never attend.
According to Gallup…
- The number one reason people don’t attend church is because they prefer to worship on their own.
Lack of attendance is a big hurdle to overcome if you are trying to advance the Kingdom and grow your church through outreach. The key to overcoming is establishing your “why” (the struggle, problem, or pain point your event helps people overcome) and remembering Jesus’ promise stated in Matthew 6:33, “…all these things will be provided for you.”
Let those in your congregation see how their unique gifts are important to building God’s Kingdom and growing His church. Communicate how we need the church to…
- Worship with other believers
- Equip us for mobilizing disciples
- Study God’s Word collectively
- Keep us from living in isolation
Ideas for Outreach Events
- Serve the Community
There are many ways to use outreach events to serve the community. Think about who or what areas need served the most. Is there a way to meet their physical needs, such as handing out backpacks full of school items or boxes of food?
You can partner with other churches or local ministries to go out into the community and serve the underprivileged. However, use this opportunity of physical need to pour into someone spiritually. When you hand out the backpack or food box, for example, include a Bible or written prayer. Better yet, ask the person you are giving it to about their lives and what weighs heavy on their hearts. Share how God sees them and has a plan and purpose for their lives. Ask them if you can pray for them.
Remember, you are God’s plan A to reach those He puts in your path. Before serving in your community, pray and ask God to prepare the hearts of those you will serve and empower you with the right words to speak truth and life into them.
- Put on a Festival
A local festival designed to bring churches together that reaches out into the community is another way to fuel Christ’s mission of creating Kingdom Laborers and making disciples. When putting on a festival, we’ve found incredible worship and life-changing messages are key to engaging people. It also helps to have great food and fun activities for various ages.
Festivals unite Believers and share the Gospel with those who might not otherwise hear. A powerful message or worship experience can set someone’s heart on fire for Jesus, which the Holy Spirit ignited. The next step would be to invite them to your local congregation to seek more about God and engage with His Word.
- Invite a Speaker
An outreach event does not necessarily require you to “go out.” Think about “inviting someone in.” A dynamic speaker who shares the Gospel and equips people in your congregation and community to live life on purpose can also help people connect your congregation to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and Jesus’ prayer request (Matthew 9:37-38), cultivating growth.
When choosing a speaker for an outreach event, think about your mission, what you want people to walk away from the event better knowing or understanding, and how they can compel people to move forward in their unique purpose for God’s Kingdom.
There are many speaking conferences and events that deliver inspiring messages. However, if you want to grow your local church through outreach events, those who attend need to be inspired to act. Outreach isn’t successful if everyone discovers a truth but does nothing with it. But if many attend and many are inspired to act on what they learned, not only will your congregation grow, but God’s Kingdom will advance!
If you are looking to advance God’s Kingdom and grow your local church congregation…
- Pursue passionate prayer. Pray for God to bring people who He wants to hear His message.
- Respond to the needs of the community. Look for ways to meet people where they are. Think about how an outreach event can equip your current congregation and mobilize disciples to multiply the movement of God.
- Plan an outreach event. Start mapping out your next event using resources such as this to help you plan, execute, and follow up with those who attend.
Churches have a great opportunity to impact those in their communities and congregations. Through outreach events, the church can help overcome hesitation to attend and draw people in by creating an atmosphere that magnifies the love of Jesus. As a result, the local church grows, and God’s Kingdom expands!