Many Kentucky Baptist churches schedule events throughout the year to try and reach lost and unchurched people for Christ. Types of events common in the Commonwealth include Vacation Bible School, block parties, trunk of treats, wild game suppers, Christmas and Easter themed events, and others.
Some church members view these events as having been effective events due to the large number of people present on the church property for the event. For instance, an outreach event held around the time of Halloween may bring more that 200 people to the church campus. Others in the church may complain that these events are not effective because there are no recorded conversions, and no one is added to the church.
Who is right in this case? It may be that both are right. Great outreach events allow the church members to rub elbows with the unchurched community, and for that reason they are effective. It is also true that many churches, due to a failure in planning, miss a great evangelistic opportunity with their events and for that reason the event was not as successful as it could have been.
So then, what is the key to an effective outreach event? Here are five keys to effective outreach church events:
1. Schedule events that lost and unchurched people will attend. Gary McIntosh, in his book, “What Every Pastor Should Know: 101 Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Leading Your Church,” teaches that churches should offer at least nine events per year for effective community outreach. Events can include block parties, parenting seminars, sports clinics, ice cream socials, chili cook offs, Vacation Bible School, Fourth of July celebration, and others. Consider who you are trying to reach and schedule events they would likely attend.
2. Register every guest that attends. For purposes of follow-up and inviting these guests to future events it is essential that the church gathers basic contact information on those who attend. Registering guests can be done by giving out tickets to the various elements of the event or by doing a drawing for a prize. You can’t follow up with people who have not been registered.
3. Share the gospel at your event. To avoid having events that are good events, but not evangelistic events, be intentional about sharing the good news of Jesus. Here are three ways you include the gospel: plan a time for a Christian testimony during the event, give away gospel literature to attendees, and train the church members to share the gospel. Training could include something as simple as role-playing how to introduce oneself, how to talk about family, interests and religious background, and how to move the everyday conversation to a gospel conversation. As church members begin to talk with unchurched people, they can begin to build relationships that may result in visiting the church and ultimately receiving Christ. At the very least, your guest may leave the event with having met a new Christian friend.
4. Follow up with every guest who attends. Don McCutcheon, who trained Kentucky Baptist pastors at the 2017 Reset Church Evangelism Strategy Training Event likes to say, “The event isn’t through until the follow-up is through.” The best way to assure effective follow-up is to include a follow-up person on the event planning team. Follow-up can be an email, phone call, letter, card, or even a visit to the front door of the home to thank people for attending and invite them to other things the church is doing. As members are engaged in follow-up they will discover needs and opportunities to pray for and minister to those who attended the event.
5. Evaluate to improve future events. While the memory of the event is still fresh on the minds of the workers schedule an evaluation meeting for improving future events the church offers to the community. This meeting should include the key workers and should give them opportunity to answer specific questions. Ask the group what went well with this event and what they could have done better. Ask what they saw God do in their lives, the lives of others, or in the church because of this event. Once the meeting is finished then share with the church the good things that happened because of this event, even if the best thing that happened was that you were able to get to know some of your neighbors a little better.
When it comes to reaching the approximately 80 percent of the people in Kentucky who do not attend any church on Sunday mornings, we need multiple methods. Scheduling evangelistic events can be one good tool to help toward that goal. If the KBC Evangelism, Church Planting, and Campus Ministry team can help, then please do not hesitate to call at (270) 889-4276, or email email@example.com. (WR)