30 Outreach Ideas to Grow Your Church

30 Outreach Ideas to Grow Your Church

The church exists to introduce people to Jesus, and this is why we constantly need to come up with new outreach ideas! We shouldn’t pour all of our energy and resources into erecting a wonderful, comfortable building with the hope that people will wander in—we need to be out building relationships with them.

That means we always need to be challenging ourselves to reach people in our communities. So we’ve compiled 30 fun outreach ideas to help you brainstorm ways to impact your city.

(Don’t see your favorite outreach idea here? Drop us a comment and if it’s a big winner, we’ll add it to the list!)

How each of the outreach ideas are laid out

For each outreach idea, I’ve included some overview information to help you quickly evaluate whether it’s something you want to pursue. This section includes the following fields:

Time commitment: Some outreach ideas can be done in an afternoon, and some need to be committed to for months (or longer). This entry will give you a rough idea how much of a time commitment this idea will require.

Investment: You can expect to make a financial investment for any outreach, but some opportunities are going to cost more than others. Hopefully, you can expect a greater outcome with a larger capital investment. I’ll break this field down this way:

  • $ (Up to $200)
  • $$ ($200–$500)
  • $$$ ($500–$1,000)
  • $$$$ (Over $1,000)

Volunteers: You’ll also need to consider whether you have enough people to run the event. I’ll give you a range of the ideal volunteers needed to run this event successfully.

Outreach idea #1: Sponsor a school or classroom

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $$$$ (over time)
Volunteers: 10–20

If you really want to make an impact in your community, invest in a school or a classroom. This can include purchasing of supplies, volunteering as helpers or chaperones, or maintaining the grounds or equipment.

This isn’t a “quick-return” kind of outreach. To get the most out of this outreach idea, you’ll have to commit to something long-term. The amount of work and financial investment will wax and wane over time, but if you’re not in it for the long haul, any return will be negligible.

The likelihood for this to translate into a flood of visitors is pretty small. But what you can expect from sponsoring a school or classroom is a strong reputation, trust, and influence. You’ll be building important relationships with the staff and community. When you’ve established trust, you can almost guarantee that they’ll come to you with information about families that need help and assistance. It’s like you’re creating a perpetual outreach machine.

Outreach idea #2: Family movie night

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $$$
Volunteers: 5–10

Most churches have a great audio/visual setup. Why not use it for showing movies? This can be a weekly event that happens all summer—or all year! If you live in a college town, a movie night followed by a discussion about its themes and characters can be an interesting way to bring people into your church.

You might be surprised by the suggested financial investment and time commitment here, but this isn’t an idea you want to get into unless you’re willing to invest in the proper non-theatrical public performance license which can be pricey (dependent upon what kind of movies you plan on showing). If you’re going to spring for the license, you might as well make family movie nights a regular event.

Outreach idea #3: Super Bowl party

Time commitment: Once a year
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 5–10

The Super Bowl is one of the year’s biggest events, and it can be a wonderful opportunity to get people into church—but it has to be done correctly. Most people would prefer to watch this event at home or with close friends, so there needs to be some real thought put into how you’ll attract people.

Not only will you need commitment from your congregation to show up themselves (and invite their friends), you might want to invest in some items to raffle off. This can be done during the halftime show—which is often not something you want to associate yourself with anyway.
Most of your investment money will go into creating invitations, buying snacks and food, investing in some great raffle items (you can probably get donations or discounts from local businesses, too).

Make sure you know what the NFL expects from churches sponsoring such an event.

Outreach idea #4: Support a senior center

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

This is another idea that’s more about investing in the community than it is about getting an immediate return on your outreach. There are a number of ways you can invest in local senior centers:

  • Lead worship services
  • Serve during meals
  • Visit with seniors
  • Stock the facility with resources like books and movies

Not only can you really minister to the seniors in your community at a time in their life when they feel cast aside, but you also get to teach your congregation how to serve others. Your outreach spills over into the lives of the center’s staff and family members of the residents.

Outreach ideas #5: Host a concert

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $$$
Volunteers: 10–20

Depending on your goals, hosting a concert can be a bit of a risk. You need to ask yourself if you intend to charge for the event, take a “love offering,” or make it a free event.

If you have local talent, you can negotiate the cost for getting them to come play. This is your best bet for holding a free event. This can be a great way to make your church a place that’s known for supporting local artists. If you want to host a more well-known artist, you’re probably going to need to make a significant commitment to pay for them.

Pro tip: hosting a Christian concert can be an iffy outreach idea because most of the people who are going to attend are already familiar with the gospel and committed to their own church.

Outreach idea #6: Block party

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 10–20

If your church has nice grounds, or even a good-sized parking lot, you can put on an incredible block party. Make sure there are plenty of games, food, and entertainment, and you’ve got yourself a great way to get the neighborhood connected.

You’ll probably want to invest in some flyers or invitations, go door to door around the neighborhood, and create a Facebook event to help encourage families to attend. If your church isn’t the best location, find a couple different families in the church and host block parties from their homes. This is a great opportunity for a larger reach.

Outreach idea #7: Community festival

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 10–20

I have a Catholic church in my town that has been doing this for more than 20 years. They’ve built relationships with local vendors from all around town who set up booths at the church to sell their products and services. There’s also food booths and games for the kids.

This doesn’t work as well as a one-time event, but over time your church can establish itself as an important part of the community.

Outreach idea #8: Halloween alternatives

Time commitment: Depends
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 10–20

Lots of families are looking for safe, fun things to do on Halloween. This is a wonderful way for your church to step up to the plate. If your church would prefer not to have anything to do with Halloween, you can host a harvest party and provide games, snacks, and candy. This can provide you with an opportunity to get to know parents as their kids play.

You can also put on a Trunk or Treat where people from church gather in the parking lot, fill their decorated trunks with candy, and allow kids to trick or treat at all the cars. Trunk and Treats are generally well attended, but it can be kind of chaotic and hard to make genuine connections with visitors.

Outreach idea #9: Community garden

Time commitment: A year
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 10–30

If the church or a church member has an acre or more of garden-worthy land, you can put together a public garden. With plowing, planting, maintenance, and harvest, you’re committing to a year-long project (at least). You need someone knowledgeable to head it up and make sure you have a really good idea of what’s needed:

  • Volunteers
  • Tools
  • Plants
  • Watering system and cost
  • Fencing

A well-run community garden can really pull people together, and it can also provide some food for local shelters and food pantries.

Outreach idea #10: Art show

Time commitment: Open
Investment: $
Volunteers: 1–5

Your town likely has a number of artists, and chances are that they don’t think of the church as a big supporter of the arts. You can change that!

Find a way to do showings of local art in your church. You can do it all the time and feature different artists in your fellowship area, or you can feature multiple artists at bigger events throughout the year. This can provide an inroad into a community that the church doesn’t typically do a good job of reaching.

Outreach idea #11: Free lunches

Time commitment: Open
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 1–5

Is your church surrounded by businesses? Why not set up some barbecues in the parking lot and offer working people free lunches once a week? I mean, who doesn’t love a free lunch? You can even deliver!

You’ll need to market it to the businesses around your church. But if you set up well, it can give you an opportunity to get to know some of the people working near your church, and help you build relationships with local businesses.

Pro tip: When you’re trying to get the word out to these businesses, start with the executive assistant or someone in HR—they’ll know how to get the message to the rest of the company.

Outreach idea #12: Free school supplies

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 10–20

You can approach this a number of ways, but they’re all going to require some involvement on the part of your congregation. You’ll want them to donate money towards buying supplies. This is better than having them go buy the supplies themselves because sometimes they’ll buy second-rate supplies to save money, and you really want to give kids the same kind of supplies you’d want your own children to have.

Once you have supplies, you can:

  • Donate them to a shelter or organization
  • Donate them to a school to give to kids who need them
  • Set up a little “store” in the church and allow people to buy the supplies at discounted rates so they don’t feel like they’re receiving handouts.

Outreach idea #13: Parents’ night out

Time commitment: Open
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

Why not open your church up as a daycare for a Friday or Saturday night, and allow local families to drop off their kids so that they can go out and having a child-free date? All you need is a couple of adults, some teenagers, snacks, and activities to keep kids occupied.

Remember: You want this to be an outreach, so don’t let it become a service you’re only providing for church members. Encourage people in your church to use this an opportunity to double date with couples who don’t attend. This isn’t just a win because the new couple gets to have an awesome experience with the church, but they also have an opportunity to spend the evening building a closer relationship with church-member friends.

Outreach idea #14: Mother’s morning out

Time commitment: Open
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

This is similar to the outreach idea #13, except it’s happening during the morning and providing mothers an opportunity to get out and get some stuff accomplished without having to drag everyone along.

With both of these events, you’ll want to make sure you have a well-defined start and stop time.

Outreach idea #15: Raise money for a local cause

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 10–20

There is a lot of need in your community. And when your church steps up to raise money for one of them, that is, in itself, an outreach. Not only are you in the community raising money and awareness for a significant issue, you’re also communicating that your church is part of and committed to the needs of your community.

Stepping out like this represents a significant risk. You don’t want to make a big deal about your involvement in raising money for a cause and then drop the ball. Make sure that you have someone with a firm grasp on project management, fundraising, and marketing before you decide to step into this area.

Outreach idea #16: Homecoming service

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

Why not put together a special service for all the church’s former members? This can be a fun and meaningful outreach idea that can let your current congregation know the value you place on everyone that has worshiped with you.

To pull this off, you need to be willing to invite back everyone that’s left—which means you need to be willing to let bygones go. But this can be a really meaningful opportunity for healing and to communicate the importance of forgiveness and community.

Outreach idea #17: Themed mid-week service

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

Is there a local, national, or international event that has really impacted your city? Plan a mid-week evening service with themed worship, communion, and a relevant message. It’s amazing how many people will come to church when they’re going through a difficult or confusing time.

You can see great examples of this among the churches who opened their doors after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Churches were flooded by people who were overwhelmed and didn’t know where else to turn. It’s important to look at how you can serve people during these kinds of significant events.

If people are willing to come to a service like this, they’re likely willing to give you their contact information and meet with you again.

Outreach idea #18: Recognition service

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

If there’s a charity, ministry, service, or business doing amazing things for your community, recognize them in a special service. Let them know you’re planning a service in their honor. With enough notice, many from the organization will attend. Maybe you can even take up a special offering for them!

This service could be for students who have led an important fundraiser or volunteered at a charity event, the staff at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or a business that has developed a reputation for giving back.

Outreach idea #19: Multi-church ministry

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

Look for big local services projects where it makes sense to partner with other churches. These kinds of projects could include:

  • Park restoration
  • City litter clean up
  • A local barbeque
  • School landscaping

Not only can you do more by partnering with other churches, you can communicate with your town what church unity looks like.

Outreach idea #20: Multi-church community VBS

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $$$
Volunteers: 20–30

Instead of doing your typical summer VBS program, you could get multiple churches involved and do something amazing. If you combine resources you might be able to rent a community center, or use the building of the largest church. With enough planning, a multi-church community VBS could make a dramatic impact on the community!

Another plus to a large, multi-church VBS event is that it lets churches participate even when they have a lot of people vacationing or out for the summer.

Outreach idea #21: Community Thanksgiving event

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 5–10

One Thanksgiving my church plant partnered up with a local restaurant and held a free Thanksgiving dinner. We bought four or five turkeys and took turns the week before cooking them in one of the restaurant’s ovens.

All day on Thanksgiving we enjoyed a meal together with those in the community who had nowhere to go or couldn’t pull off their own dinner. It was an amazing event that really ministered to the restaurant owner.

Outreach idea #22: Host recovery groups

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $
Volunteers: 1–5

If your church has the room for it, consider letting recovery groups use it during the week. There are all kinds of groups that would benefit from using your facility like:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Divorce Recovery
  • Eating Disorders Anonymous
  • AL ANON

Your church can play a pivotal role in their ability to get better, and will likely provide an opportunity to get to know people who need to meet Jesus.
And as a bonus, the visiting group members will become familiar with your church building’s layout—which will make them a little more comfortable when they show up on Sunday morning.

Outreach Idea #23: Community Talent Shows

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 5–10

Looking for another opportunity to partner up with local businesses? Host a talent show! Businesses can donate services and products for winners, and you can get people from all over your community to take part.

Think about it: for every person that comes to share their talent, you have multiple friends and family members who will come to your church to watch!

Outreach idea #24: Community yard sale

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 10–20
Here’s an outreach idea that doubles up on the opportunity to reach out to your community. Think of something meaningful in your community you’d like to raise money for and put together a community-wide yard sale to raise funds.

(Remember, as an outreach it’s best if you’re not just fundraising for your own needs.)
Community members get to come interact with you when they donate their sale items to the yard sale, and then they get to interact with your church again when they come to the actual event!

Just a word of warning: Don’t underestimate the amount of volunteers hours that will need to go into sorting, cleaning, and pricing the items that people bring. It’s time-consuming.

Outreach idea #25: Free car wash

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 10–20

The key to this outreach is to not take any money. People will want to donate, but you’ll have the biggest impact if you don’t let them. Find a place with a good, central location with water hookup for your event. Set up a Facebook event and invite the community. Make sure that you communicate clearly that your church is looking to serve the community and will not be taking any money for it.

Have some cards made up for the event with your church location and service times and hand them out the people who are getting their cars washed.

Outreach idea #26: ESL Bible studies

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $
Volunteers: 1–5

If you have someone who is multilingual, host Bible studies on other languages for people whose English isn’t to strong. My church has a large Hispanic population, and one of the families in our church holds a Bible study every week for Spanish speaking community members.

Outreach idea #27: Fair booth

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 10–20

Most communities have some sort of fair. Setting up a booth for your church can be a fun way to meet people. You can give away New Testaments or have “stump the pastor” hours. There are so many ways that a fair booth can be made into a fun opportunity to meet people in your community.

Outreach idea #28: Election day prayer service

Time commitment: One time
Investment: $
Volunteers: 5–10

Plan a community-wide evening prayer service. This should be a totally agenda-free, non-partisan time for people in the community to gather and focus their attention on praying for the community and country. This can be a helpful outreach opportunity to build unity instead of sowing division.

Outreach idea #29: Financial courses

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $
Volunteers: 1–10

There are a lot of families out there who are suffering financially. They don’t know how to make sound financial decisions, or they’re crippled by credit card debt, or they’re throttled by student loans—whatever the difficulty, they really could use some help. Many churches have told me that financial classes have been one of the best outreaches they’ve ever done.

You don’t have to create the curriculum. There are plenty of great classes out there like Crown Financial Ministries and Financial Peace University.

Outreach idea #30: Food pantry

Time commitment: Ongoing
Investment: $$
Volunteers: 20–30

Every city needs a good food pantry. It only needs to be open a couple days a week, but it can really open a lot of doors for relationships. It’s also a good way to keep your thumb on the pulse of your community’s needs. Most of the work will go into getting donations from people and businesses, and then running the pantry on the days it is open.

Implementing great outreach ideas is a step in the right direction when seeking church growth. Discover what other forward-thinking church leaders are doing to strengthen and streamline similarly critical church functions. Join us at Pushpay Summit, a church leadership and thought ownership conference to be held on January 30th – 31st, 2019 in Dallas, TX. Get ready for keynotes, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities designed to equip you and your staff with top-notch ministry tactics from the people who work behind the scenes every week.

Combating the bad habits that can hinder community impact is another step churches can take to maintain healthy growth over time. Read the free ebook, 5 Bad Habits That Kill Church Growth and How to Break Them, today!