Eight Techniques to Develop Church Events into Outreach Opportunities4 min read

Have you ever felt like you missed your chance? Have you ever wondered about the purpose of an event at your congregation or felt like you are just going through the motions when it comes to outreach events? You are not alone!

Don’t get me wrong here; I am a huge supporter of the annual chicken/chili/fill-in-the-blank dinner. These are the places where you can get some of the best food and fellowship around. They are great times to celebrate all that the Lord has done in and among His gathered people. If we are already putting effort into these gatherings, why not focus on using these events to reach out to those in our community who may not know the love of Christ? Here are few ways through which we can do just that:

Be Strategic – Often, we do events for decades without much thought. Make plans with outreach as the main goal. Plan out, step by step, how this will be accomplished. Who do you desire to reach? When is the best time to reach them? Where are they? How do we communicate with them? These are just a few questions to get started.

Coordinate Your Efforts – Perhaps one group has always been in charge of putting on a particular dinner. But the evangelism board is looking for a way to reach out. Have these groups get together for the planning process so the bases are covered. Also consider the idea of partnering with other congregations to make something happen that you couldn’t on your own. Know your community calendar and try not to schedule your event at the same time as another local school, church, or community event.

Be Flexible – It doesn’t have to be exactly the same as it has always been. Small changes in venue or timing can make huge differences in the number of people to whom we can reach out. Work together instead of against one another. As part of the strategic plan, have your goals in mind and have everyone working toward those goals, even if it makes us stretch our comfort zone a little.

Be Creative – Consistency and dependability are wonderful things. Looking forward to a familiar event can add to the charm. However, adding a little creativity to our events will often draw a bigger audience. Change up the menu, have some entertainment, do something different than usual. This will often help create excitement and allow you to reach more people.

Get the Word Out – We often assume, when we have hosted an event for many years, that people will automatically know about it. This is fine if you want the same people to attend year after year, but then it doesn’t count as an outreach opportunity. Signs, fliers, and advertisements are good and should be utilized, but don’t stop there. Consider writing an article about your event for the local newspaper. Pick a mission opportunity to support and tell folks why it is a good thing to support. (In doing this, you get to share the reason for the hope you have.) If you have a radio station nearby, see if they have an opportunity for an interview or a story. Above all, invite people! Invite your friends and family like always, but don’t stop there! Invite your unchurched neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances and complete strangers. The quickest way to begin a relationship is by making a connection and this provides a great opportunity. If possible, plan to keep a certain number of tickets available to give away to those we so desperately want to reach.

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Be Welcoming – Once you get the event planned and orchestrated, make sure everyone who attends feels welcome. Greeters should be ready to welcome, help with directions, get guests anything they need, and introduce them to others who are present. Don’t let them sit in a corner by themselves, but rather integrate them into the crowd.

Share God’s Word – Don’t stop with food and fellowship. Use the event to plant seeds, tell the story, and/or share your own faith. It isn’t a bait and switch scenario, just an honest way to take advantage of the fact that you have them there. Be creative. This could be through educating folks on the reason you are there, the reason for the event, or through the entertainment.

Follow Up – Now that you had the event and made connections, don’t let it end there. Take the connections that you made and follow-up. A call, note or visit can go a long way! Invite them to future events. You don’t have to be pushy, just concerned about maintaining and furthering that relationship. Who knows what may come of it!

This is certainly just a quick primer for Outreach Event Planning. If you would like help planning your event, coming up with ideas for new events, or making an existing event into an outreach-focused event, please contact our office by phone (888-463-5127) or email ( and we’d be glad to help!

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About the Author

Rev. Todd Kollbaum is the director of LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission. RSTM supports and encourages rural and small town congregations in engaging their communities and growing together in Christ through Word and Sacrament. Learn more at or

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