If you’re part of the church world, you’re probably familiar with the summer slump. School is out, people are on vacation, and attendance is down. It can be tempting to surrender to the quietness of this season and shelve your outreach plans until things pick back up in the fall. If you do, you’re missing out on some meaningful ways to connect with your local community. Read on for summer church in the park outreach ideas that will help you serve and engage your church and community — you’ll have some fun and make meaningful connections!
1. Host a free outdoor movie night
Want to delight your church members and people in your community? Host a movie night. Choose a family-friendly movie, rent a projector and popcorn machine, fill a few coolers with drinks, and you’re set!
Tell your church about the movie night a few weeks in advance and encourage them to invite friends, coworkers, and neighbors to share the fun. You can also advertise around your community! Encourage church members to bring blankets or lawn chairs, but have some extras on hands for visitors (in case people forget).
It’s also a good idea to have signs on the road by your church that advertise the movie night. You’ll have the chance to draw in more people from your community, and when newcomers arrive for the event they’ll know they’ve found the right place.
2. Sports in the park
This is another great way to connect with your larger community. Pick a summer Saturday, find a local park, and set up with all kinds of fun outdoor sports and games. Badminton, corn hole, volleyball, spikeball, and Ultimate Frisbee are all great choices.
Have drinks and snacks on hand, and maybe a snow cone machine for an extra special touch on hot summer days. People love fun and they love free food, so encourage your church members to invite others. You might even expect some passersby in the park to join in the fun!
3. Church in the park
If you can get permission from your city, have a church service in the park. Chances are your church will love the opportunity to get outside and worship on a beautiful summer morning. You could even encourage people to bring their dogs!
If you’re using the New Mover Program during the busy summer moving season, this is such a fun way to introduce someone new to your community to your church! It’s low pressure, and you’ll definitely stick out in their minds if they’re considering other churches in the area.
Church in the park is also a great way to meet people in your city who may already be in or around the park and are curious about why you’re out there.
If you’re feeling ambitious, combine church in the park with the sports suggestions listed above. It’ll be a summer Sunday to remember!
4. Church garage sale
Summer is the season of garage sales. Why not have your church come together to host one big sale on a Saturday? Invite your church to clear out their garages and bring everything they want to sell to your church. All you have to do is provide tables, clothing racks, and price stickers.
A church garage sale is a really great way to raise money for a specific cause. This could be for something in your church like a youth group trip, or a donation to a local charity or ministry your church supports. It’s up to you!
Make sure to advertise throughout your community before the sale so people will know to stop by. You could also have brochures with info about your church available on your tables, or flyers advertising an upcoming event or sermon series at your church.
If possible, have your volunteers who are helping run the sale wear t-shirts or lanyards with your church logo on them. This way anyone who stops by to shop will know who they can talk to if they happen to be interested in finding out more about your church.
Serve Your Community
5. Provide Routine Yard Work
Summertime means rapidly growing grass and weeds. There are probably members of your church and community who struggle to keep up with yard work, especially in the hot summer months. Seniors, single moms, people with injuries — all would likely welcome a helping hand for lawn maintenance.
Recruit a volunteer team who is ready and able to provide routine yard work throughout the summer. This is a great way for teens in your church to get some volunteer experience. Your volunteers will have the chance to connect with and bless people consistently throughout the summer months, and perhaps beyond!
6. Offer A Cool Zone
Many lower income families may not have air conditioning available, and certain members of your community (especially the elderly) may be at risk for health issues as outdoor temperature rise. If the forecast is calling for a dangerously hot day, consider setting up a Cool Zone at your church that is open to the public.
You could invite people into classrooms, your fellowship hall, or the sanctuary — wherever you have the space. Provide guests with cool drinks, snacks, extra fans, and some entertainment. Movies, books, board games, playing cards, coloring books for kids…you get the idea.
If you have a church van, you can even shuttle people to and from your church who may not otherwise have transportation. This could also be a great way to partner with other churches in your area. If you pool volunteers and resources at the church with the most space, you can serve your community more effectively together.
7. School Supply Drive
Holding a school supply drive is a way to bless families in need in your community. The cost of new school supplies every year can be hard to manage for low-income families, especially those with multiple children.
Find a local school to partner with (look for those that are underserved) and get a list of the standard supplies kids in each grade will need. Share the list with your church and encourage them to contribute as much as they can.
If you want to go an extra step, purchase backpacks (or ask that new ones be donated) and fill each once with all the necessary supplies for one child.
8. School Service Day
Are there schools in your community that are underserved? Chances are their facilities could use some cosmetic work before the new school year begins. They probably don’t have the time, resources, or labor needed to get everything done — this is where your church comes in! Find out the specific work they need and recruit as many volunteers as you can for a service day.
Work could range from painting, to landscaping, to organizing, to decorating — just be prepared to help with whatever the school asks for. This is a fantastic way to form a partnership in your community, and could likely lead to further service opportunities (like hosting that school supply drive).
If you really want to go above and beyond, buy quality coffee, tea, and nonperishable snacks to stock the teacher’s lounge. It will be a nice surprise for them when they get back!
Connect With Kids (and Bless Their Parents)
You knew this was going to be on the list, didn’t you? That’s because VBS is one of the absolute best ways to reach out to families in your community each summer!
A jam-packed week of having fun while learning about Jesus definitely leaves an impression on kids and parents (not to mention that for many parents, a little free childcare is a huge draw). Your church family will know it’s coming, but you need to include people from your community, too!
Encourage church members to invite people they know — word of mouth is often your best advertising. Even so, you can use the help of direct mail, outdoor banners, and posters or flyers at local businesses to help get the word out.
The benefits of a child attending VBS are huge, but don’t forget to include their parents, too. Help kids host a performance or presentation on the last day, or have a spaghetti dinner at the end of the week. The goal is to get parents to stick around and learn about how their kids have been spending the week!
10. Parents’ Morning Out
Hosting a parents’ morning out is a great way to bless stay-at-home moms (or dads!) of young kids in your church and community. After all, having kids around all summer can be trying even for the most patient of parents. You can do this one time, monthly, every other week, or weekly — whatever your resources allow.
Participating parents will thank you for a morning to themselves, and you’ll get the chance to engage with and pour into the kids in your church and community for a few extra hours!
11. Youth Group Excursion
Planning fun summer excursions is a great way to engage kids in your youth group during slower months. Amusement parks or river tubing are great options for summer, but you can get creative and find an option that suits your budget, your location, and the size of your youth group.
Encourage the kids in your youth group to bring a friend along who doesn’t attend church. If your church can cover or subsidize the costs of the day, you’re even more likely to have a chance to connect with new kids over the summer. If they have a great time on a summer excursion, they’ll be more likely to come to church activities in the fall!
12. Water Games Day
What better way to help your youngest churchgoers have fun this summer than a day full of water games? This is a fun way to bring families in your church together to beat the heat and embrace community. There are tons of great water play options out there (think water gun tag, Slip n’ Slides, water balloon baseball, or Fill The Bucket relay races).
You can have different stations for different age ranges. Some can be just for the sake of play, and some could be stages of a competition where kids can earn prizes. It’s up to you! Don’t forget to have a couple of kiddie pools with water toys for little ones who aren’t yet big enough to play games.
Supplying popsicles and sunscreen for all involved is a nice touch. You could even add a cookout at the end of the day if you want to go the extra mile.
We hope you find some great ideas to kickstart your summer outreach! As long as you’re committed to making intentional connections with your church and community, you’re sure to beat the summer slump!
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