Harvest Festivals, Trunk or Treat,= and pretty much any other big gathering events all have something in common, and no, it’s not just fall sandwich boards. It’s that events like this, that churches normally do in the fall are no longer an option in a year of Pandemic – at least not in their traditional forms. So what CAN your church do to be active in the community, provide some fun for families and attract new visitors?
Obviously a lot depends on where you live, the current social distancing regulations in your area, and the weather but with a little creativity and a good look around and what the needs are in your area, you can plan a couple events that will put your church at the forefront of minds in your community. After all there isn’t much competition this year, so any change in our COVID routine is sure to grab attention.
1. Backpack/School Supply Giveaway -
Many families are having a hard time with finances this year, many are out of work or took a big hit during the shut down this spring so any help you can provide is a huge encouragement. And even if kids aren’t actually GOING to school, putting packages together that include helpful supplies for homeschooling will still be appreciated. PLUS it gives kids a sense of normalcy that they may be missing this year – and honestly, what 8 year old doesn’t love a new box of crayons?
Put up a banner outside your church the week before your event so local families know when to come by.
2. Adopt a School
And while we are talking about education, becoming an active part of your local schools is a great way to minister to kids and educators both. Take some time to meet with the local principal or administrators to find out what they need and they try to come alongside them to help. Older schools may want a “work day” to help clean up playgrounds, have a fresh coat of paint or new flowers. Newer schools may just appreciate a catered lunch for the teachers once a month. Start a conversation and then ask your church members to volunteer to help.
3. Be a Hot Spot
Having a good internet connection is almost vital these days. You probably saw the story last week about school kids doing homework outside a taco shop so they could use the wifi, and since many churches are empty during the weekdays, offering your facility and internet to your community could be a huge help to families. Offer free masks to those who come into your building and then disinfect afterwards.
You may also want to purchase a couple inexpensive computers and offer them for people who don’t have technology to come and use. You could set up a reservation system so the areas can be cleaned properly between users.
Bonus tip- have healthy prepackaged snacks and drinks available for your visitors. It shows you care and could be a big help if money is tight.
4. Neighborhood Concerts
Musicians and singers in your church are probably ready for some performance time and your community would probably love to have a chance to clap and dance along with some music so provide a chance to make everyone happy. There are several ways you can set this up and still be safe:
- Your Parking Lot – set up a small stage and sound system and invite people to bring lawn chairs and spread out in your parking lot to listen. If you want to be extra safe, have visitors stay in their cars and just “tailgate” with their own picnics.
- Go Out in the Community – many master planned communities have green belts and parks that you can use to set up a small concert. Or with some creative thinking you could put your band in the bed of a truck and use a parking lot.
- Finally, think about people in your area who would love a little uplifting distraction. Hospitals, Nursing Homes, First Responders – plan a short concert outside one of these facilities and invite staff and residents to listen from afar.
5. Foodtruck Rally
Many mobile food trucks are still operating at this time and could use a place to park and serve. Plan a special “rally” and invite several trucks to come park at your church on a Saturday – you will be helping a local business and providing your neighbors with a fun experience. You could add music to create a more of a party atmosphere – while distancing of course.
6. Sock/Blanket/Food Drive
As we have said earlier, many families are hurting this year so food banks have depleted stores and as winter gets closer the need will just get bigger. Any help your church can provide from donations, to volunteers would be greatly appreciated.
As a related idea, if schools in your area aren’t open, children may not be getting good lunches to eat if their families are having a hard time financially, so perhaps offering sack lunches to families in your area a couple times a week would be a good way to show people that you care.
7. Drive Through Carnival
Churches on social media have been sharing creative ideas for how to still hold a harvest festival that is socially distant and several fun ideas have been shared including offering simple games that can be played from the car – like corn hole or ring toss. Also provide a bag of activities like coloring pages, story books and stickers for kids as families drive through.
Promote the event with a banner and doorhangers distributed in the neighborhood around your church.
What creative ideas is your church working on this year? We would love to have you share them with us – visit our Facebook page and tell us!