Church Christmas events draw a crowd, but the beginning of the new year is a more strategic time for outreach. In January, churches typically attract true seekers: people who, in honor of the new year, have made a resolution to seek spirituality or Christianity in their lives. As a result, this season is an excellent time to offer seminars, classes or other programs designed to address your community’s felt needs. Consider these ideas:
Offer a class in simple living. Promote it as the “Lifestyle Garage Sale: Getting Rid of the Junk.” Using life-mapping, priority assessments or other tools, invite congregation members and the surrounding community to simplify their lives and focus on priorities. Wrap up the class with a garage sale, encouraging people to not just unclutter their attics for the sale, but eliminate the other distracting “junk” in their lives as well. Donate the proceeds to a local food bank or homeless shelter.
Fit for Life
Is your church building empty most of the week? Offer a weight-loss support group, senior health or regular fitness class (aerobics, Pilates, etc.) at your church and invite the community to attend. Your church can demonstrate its concern for the whole person—not only the spiritual.
Many excellent curricula are now available for leading seeker small groups. Offer a six-week class for people interested in exploring Christianity and promote it in your local paper with intriguing questions: Who was Jesus? How can you know for certain that you’re going to heaven? Make sure the classes are not high pressure; are open and honest; and are a welcoming place to authentically explore Christianity. Encourage worshippers to invite their friends, but the group should consist primarily of unbelievers. Outreach offers a variety of church campaigns that may be perfect for your church.
Hosting one-night or multiple financial management seminars for your community is another effective way to reach out. Relevant topics like getting out of debt, planning for retirement, saving for college and thriving as a single-income family are all subjects that, if well-promoted, will definitely draw a crowd. When your church shows your surrounding community that it cares about the issues that are important to them, you begin to build a platform for connection.
These ideas first appeared in Outreach Magazine, November/December 2003. Post a comment below to share what your church is doing. Each issue of Outreach is designed to bring you the ideas, innovations and resources that will help you reach your community and change the world. Click here to subscribe.