20 Creative & Safe Outreach and Ministry Ideas for Fall 2021

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There’s something about fall that makes people crave tradition, growth, and coziness. Fall makes people simultaneously want to move forward with life and get back to routine. That’s why church fall ministry events should be all about:

  1. Helping people get into the routine of going to church.
  2. Helping people grow.
  3. Providing opportunities for people to make connections with others and your church.

But this fall is unique. Because of the Delta Variant, whatever you plan should be COVID-aware, remote, set up for bubbles, socially-distanced, or hybrid. 

To plan events that are both COVID-safe and meet the three objectives above, think of your fall events in two categories: 1) all-church events and 2) small-groups-driven events. Both types of events can help you grow your church. Here are ideas for each:

Fall All-Church Event Ideas

All-church events are mass invitation opportunities. They can be promoted on social media, with postcard mailers, with a banner or sandwich board in front of your church, and with invite cards for your church members to hand out to their friends and neighbors. These are opportunities to build buzz about your church, get people back into the routine of going to church, and provide opportunities for people to grow. 

Back to Church Sunday is one of the biggest fall kick-off events of churches across the country! If you haven’t signed up for Back to Church Sunday yet, you still have time. It’s on September 19th, and its theme is Hope is Here. It is a weekend all about getting people into church and restoring hope to a world that’s been devastated by this pandemic.

2.) All-Church Campaign

Campaigns are a great way to get people into the routine of going to church weekly and reading the Bible regularly. They also are a great opportunity for your church to invite newcomers and relaunch fall small groups. A great way to kick off a fall campaign is with a Back to Church Sunday event. Then, jump into a four-week or five-week campaign, which includes sermons, individual reading, small group studies, and other events focused on the same topic or book. Choose your timeframe, select a campaign (like our Hope is Here Campaign) that fits the needs of your community in this season of COVID, and talk to your small group leaders about it. Email your church, run social media ads, and send out postcards. Campaigns can be hybrid events, as people can attend groups and services online or in-person this fall! Maybe the perfect event for your church this fall is an all-church campaign.

Rick Warren uses campaigns regularly at Saddleback and shared: Our church has largely grown, both numerically and spiritually, through the years because of campaigns. I’m confident they can have a similar impact on your church.”

3.) Drive-Thru Trunk-or-Treat (COVID-Safe)

Last year forced churches to get creative, and one of the most popular events our leaders talked about was a drive-thru trunk-or-treat. Invite your community to trick-or-treat as a family by driving through your parking lot, around your church building, or around a community park. Have volunteers or small groups sign up to park their cars somewhere along the route, to dress up in costumes, to decorate their cars, and to hand out candy. Encourage families to stay in their cars and drive safely through from start to finish. At the end, take family pictures for each car. Collect their email addresses, so you can send them their pictures. A few weeks later, send a follow-up email thanking them for coming and inviting them to church or another event.

4.) Wow Weekend

Engage a high-profile speaker, author, leader, or other famous person to come speak at your church. Invite your community by promoting the event in the newspaper, on your website, on your social media pages and groups, and with postcards or door hangers. One of the best ways to ensure that the speaker shares a compelling story and leads to a gospel presentation opportunity is to have your pastor interview the guest on stage. Set up two chairs and two handheld microphones, select interview questions beforehand that help the guest tell his/her story, and wrap up with a clear gospel presentation. Have online and in-person visitors fill out connection cards. Give them a newcomer gift for coming. Then, follow up with them within the week to invite them back to another service or group.

5.) Your Church’s Signature Fall Event

Because of the predictable seasonality people crave in the fall, one of your church’s most important events is the event you host every fall. Maybe you have a harvest carnival every year. Keep it! It is likely that the families in your church are already planning on coming, and they will be some of the greatest inviters of people to your event. Just make sure to make it COVID-safe, and provide them with invite cards or door hangers to hand out and social media content to post/share, so they can invite others

Large-scale events can be great attractional opportunities for churches, but small-scale events can be equally effective at reengaging people, growing your church, and helping people establish relationships with other people in your church.

Small-Groups-Driven Event Ideas

Small-groups-driven events are events you encourage your small group leaders to host. These can be bubble-type events with fewer people. They can be outdoor events or remote events hosted by small group leaders. Small-groups-driven events are grass-roots events. They are easy to plan last-minute, and they can be a natural opportunity for your small groups to invite both people from your church who are not in small groups and unchurched people. These events are great for assimilation.

Encourage your small group leaders to plan one of these hangouts or a similar gathering at least once this fall to connect as a group, re engage families who have stopped coming over the summer, and invite new families. 

  • Host a picnic potluck and play date at a local park.
  • Get together to watch a favorite football game on TV.
  • Gather craft supplies for a Mommy & Me Craft Morning.
  • Collect school supplies and stuff backpacks for a local children’s home or elementary school.
  • Host a pumpkin carving contest.
  • Do an online cooking class together from each of your kitchens.
  • Gather before or after Thanksgiving for a “Turkey Bowl” game or jello fight.
  • Gather grandparents for a Grandparenting Day of Prayer or attend the Legacy Grandparenting Summit.
  • Do a friendsgiving event and invite local military service members to join you.
  • Purchase blankets and drive around town handing them out to homeless.
  • Host a pumpkin spice party and serve pumpkin spice lattes, cookies, and pie.
  • Volunteer handing out water at a local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.
  • Serve at a local beach or park cleanup.
  • Go to a local mini-golf place and have a family tournament.
  • Get together for a remote game night.

With a fall calendar filled with opportunities for people to visit your church, get into the rhythm of coming to church, connect into small groups, and invite their friends to church, you are geared up to grow both the size of your church and the depth of your people this fall. Our team at Outreach, Inc. is here to help. If you have any questions or need any invitation products rushed to you, call our customer support team! We know this fall can be both powerful and eternity-changing, and we’re here to help.

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