3 Simple Summer Outreach Ideas

By Kyle Bueermann

Summer break is upon us! As you look at the activity schedule for your church this summer, you probably see some big-ticket items like vacation Bible school, youth and children’s camps and mission trips.

However, summer also can be a great time to connect with your community through some smaller outreach opportunities. I want to share three that I’ve seen have great success through the years.

1. Family movie nights

Set up a projector and a large screen (or a bedsheet spread across two volleyball stands) and a simple sound system. Voila! Invite folks from the community to bring lawn chairs, bean bags, etc. If you can get your hands on a popcorn machine or snow cone machine, even better! Put up signs around town and invite families your church is connected to (perhaps after VBS).

Family movie nights are a lot of fun! And you’ll have a couple of hours to roam around and mingle with the folks who show up! Particularly in small towns where the nearest movie theater may be a significant drive away, a family movie night can be a great way for your church to connect with folks in your community.

One caveat here: You want to make sure to secure the necessary license to show the movie to a crowd. These are typically fairly inexpensive, but you want to make sure you’re showing the movie legally.

2. Block party

Rent some bounce houses. Grill some hot dogs. Get some cornhole boards. Go buy a simple putting green. Set some chairs out in your parking lot. Bingo! You have a cost-effective block party. I’ve seen everywhere from 100 to 500 folks show up at one of these. It will depend upon your community, obviously, but like a movie night, you’ll have a couple of hours to visit with folks from your community as their kids play games and jump around on bounce houses!

3. School supply giveaway

I know summer is just beginning, but that means the start of a new school year is only about three short months away! Local schools typically publish a rather comprehensive list of required supplies for students. If your church can provide some of these for your community, you’ll meet a great need in the lives of students whose families are struggling. Even if you only focus on one or two items (for example, spiral notebooks and pencil bags), you’ll still make a huge impact. You might combine this with a family movie night or block party and maximize the impact through one event.

As you plan some of these events throughout the summer, it’s important to remind yourself and your church leadership of one very important principle. In his book Reclaiming Glory, Mark Clifton says we must change our expectations for outreach events. We don’t do things like block parties and movie nights, he says, to get people into the doors of our church. We do them to get the people from our church into the lives of the people in our community.

In other words, don’t expect that just because someone shows up at a movie night and enjoys free popcorn, they will suddenly be compelled to come to your next Sunday morning worship gathering. But that event does give you the opportunity to begin a relationship that may lead to that person becoming part of your church or – more importantly – coming to faith in Christ.

God bless you and your church as you seek some creative ways to reach your community this summer!

Published May 29, 2024

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Kyle Bueermann

Kyle Bueermann is a Rural Specialist for the Replant Team. He served as a youth and music minister and as a senior pastor for nine years in New Mexico. He’s married to Michelle and they have two kids: Noah and Hailey. He’s a fan of the Texas Rangers and loves black coffee. Kyle and his family live in Lubbock, TX.