The shift toward virtual fellowship combined with increasing competition for believer’s attention means church outreach ideas must be creative and intentional to keep believers engaged and prevent drifting. Whether you’re trying to strengthen existing relationships, connect with the community, or reach people asking Google about Jesus, we’re here to help with a list of 30 church outreach ideas (not including potlucks or knitting circles).
One way churches adapt to the variety of spiritual preferences and expectations is by offering service in different formats. After several years of being church orphans, my husband and I found a church that offers three different services: traditional, contemporary, and in-between. The first service is solemn and reverent, complete with all the prayers and hymns of our youth. While my husband feels at home, I glaze over. The contemporary is loud and celebratory for all the Lord was, is, and will be. My husband shifts from one foot to the other and watches the time while I shout and dance.
So, we go to the middle service. Together, we bow our heads to pray the “Our Father” and “Apostles Creed,” and we sing along to the worship team’s up-tempo version of “Amazing Grace” led by a guitar and piano, followed by Matt Maher’s latest. No squirming, no snoring, just the perfect balance of reverence and worship.
Just as our church adapted their service format to attract members, churches also need to adapt their outreach efforts. We hope our list of 30 church outreach ideas helps you meet your members where they are online, in church, and in the community.
10 Church Outreach Ideas to Meet People Online
It should be no surprise that we’ll start with ways to reach people online. That’s how my husband and I found Faith Lutheran, and that’s where most people go for answers to just about everything. While on-site and community events are the more conducive wonderful for forming meaningful relationships, your first touchpoint is usually online.
1. Blog posts about felt needs
Sermons and church outreach often begins with speaking to people’s felt needs so we can then show them their real need is Jesus. Write blog posts about the felt needs people are searching for, such as “how to trust someone again,” or “Bible verses about forgiveness.”
2. Sermon Bites
Live-stream and recorded sermons are the norm now, but if you’re just uploading the video and waiting for the views to add up, you’re missing wonderful opportunities to help people meet Jesus where they are and entice them to join an upcoming service. There are countless wonderful sub-points and quotes in every sermon. This content can be repurposed, accompanied by a link to the full-length sermon, and redistributed in countless ways. For example, take a 2–5-minute clip of the sermon and post it on Facebook, or Instagram Stories. Make an image with a quote from the sermon to post it on your website and on Instagram. A writer can also expand on the sermon with a devotion or other revelation distributed on social media or email.
2. Devotions, liturgical content written, video or audio.
Devotions and content related to the liturgical calendar as brief as 30-60 seconds can be written, recorded in audio or video, or any combination of the three.
4. Bible supplement list
Publish a list of reliable print, audio, or video resources to supplement Scripture. Offer content to teach people how to use a print or online concordance or commentary.
5. Prayer request wall
Offer a prayer wall where people may choose to post prayer requests anonymously. It’s even more engaging and helpful if other believers mark that they’ve prayed for the person or offer a prayer in response.
6. Google Ad Grant
None of your events will be successful unless people know about them. Google offers $10,000 in ads for 501(c)(3) nonprofits and ministries so you can get your content at the top of page one where it’s most likely to be seen and clicked. People ask Google the tough questions they may be afraid to ask another person. They search for their felt needs such as “how to get help in my marriage,” or “why does God allow suffering.” People will want to learn more when you offer content to answer their felt needs and then empower the Google Ad Grant to get that content front and center. When they click on your free ad and arrive on your website, they’ll engage with content to learn the answer to all their needs is Jesus, and that your ministry can tell them all about Him.
7. Bible study
Offer the same in-person Bible study content online to draw additional participants.
8. Share a GIF
You can start with something as simple as “Share a GIF of how your Monday morning is going,” and watch the engagement soar! People love sharing GIFs because it’s a fun way to express yourself without saying a word. Whether it’s a light-hearted topic, or something more solemn and serious, “Share a GIF” posts are a great way to start engagement.
9. Virtual retreat
Whether the retreat is 100% virtual, or if virtual elements are incorporated, a virtual retreat is a great way to engage people who can’t attend in person. I’ve attended retreats with friends from the other side of the country. It was a wonderful experience I would have missed if a virtual platform wasn’t offered.
10. Read the Bible in a year
One of the most surprising spiritual growth opportunities I ever had was through a Facebook group where we read the Bible throughout the year. We asked questions, had wonderful conversations, made new friends, and grew in our faith.
10 Church Outreach Ideas to Build Relationships
We were made for community, and churches thrive when members feel they belong. Here are 10 church outreach ideas for church members to get to know one another and form positive, supportive relationships.
- Movie night in church or at the theatre
- Service at the park
- Camping weekend
- Support ministries
- Testimony night to share your faith stories
- Attend a live performance together
- Holiday activities
Wrap Christmas gift together, bake cookies, carve pumpkins, make fall table centerpieces, attend Fourth of July fireworks
- Artists groups for creatives to meet, share their work, and mentor one other
- Book club
- Babysitting network
10 Church Outreach Ideas to Engage the Community
Many of the same outreach activities offered to church members may be extended to the community to offer support, make connections, and help the church grow. Here are 10 church outreach ideas to engage the community.
1. Fundraising event
Invite the community to join you to raise funds for a local need or organization through a bike ride, triathlon, or race.
2. Life skills classes
Does someone in the congregation work for an insurance company? Do you have an accountant in the pews? Perhaps they’d be willing to teach a class for others to understand health insurance or finances.
3. Gardening, environmental stewardship
We all can benefit from learning to better care for and appreciate God’s creation. Consider a gardening program or tree-planting event.
4. Emotional Support
Offer support classes open to non-members.
5. Home makeover
Identify a need in the community for those who need help with their homes. Invite volunteers from within the church and in the community to help clean, build, repair, or decorate.
6. Uber for special needs
Offer a ride-share for people in the community who aren’t able to drive to church themselves.
7. Adopt a humane society
Organize a one time or recurring event to care for the animals and encourage adoptions.
8. Small business shopping day
Invite the community to join you to support local businesses.
9. Concert/choir in the park
Get your worship team out of church to offer worship and fellowship opportunities to the community.
10. Seasonal Event
Organize a seasonal outdoor event such as camping, sledding, snow sculptures day, sandcastles day.
Church Outreach Pre-Planning Checklist
Did one of the ideas above inspire you? Wonderful! We’re excited for you, and we want your idea to be successful… whatever “successful” means to you.
We encourage you to take a few moments to define what a successful event or program looks like. Then share that vision as a compass for other planning partners.
We’d like to offer a few things to consider before planning your next church outreach idea. A little pre-planning will help make the event much more successful.
First, decide who you want to reach and why. This will form the foundation of what a successful event looks like.
Define the location, age and needs of the people you want to reach, involve, or serve.
- Participants’ take-away
Determine what you want people to take away from the experience. Do you want participants to be encouraged? To have fun? To grow in their faith? To find peace? To know they’re not alone?
- Congregation’s Purpose
What is your goal for the church? Perhaps it’s to teach environmental stewardship. Maybe you want to increase a presence of praise and worship for your congregation. Do you want to attract new members? Do you want to strengthen the relationships and bonds of current members?
After you’ve determined the purpose of the event, then consider what resources are available.
What talents and skills can you draw from, both in the membership and in the community? Who has the knowledge and experience to plan this type of event?
Check to see what other events are taking place in the community to make sure there’s fair competition. For example, don’t send your worship team to the park the same night Mercy Me is performing.
How can you take advantage of supplies and resources you already have? What resources are most important to accomplish your goals?
By this time, you’ve already determined who the event is for, so how will you reach those people to let them know about the event? Where are they already hanging out online, in the church, or in the community?
Whether your next outreach event is loud and active, or quiet and reflective, we hope this list of 30 church outreach ideas and our pre-planning checklist inspires you to help your ministry thrive. When you’re ready, we’re here to help you get the word out through the Google Ad Grant and content writing to reach as many souls as possible.