Outreach looks a little different in 2020. How can we make sure we are maximizing every moment?
We just had our 12th annual Back 2 School Jam and reached hundreds of families. We gave away over 600 backpacks and school supplies. Normally people come inside of our building and we have a mini-service, activities, haircuts and much more. We had to REMIX it this year as a “Drive Thru” because of Covid. Everything was a quick touch in the parking lot. But it was still a touch. We had lots of people waving signs and smiling behind their masks as the cars pulled up. A DJ was playing music set up in the middle of the parking lot and it helped set up a festive vibe. EVERYTHING WAS CONTACTLESS. They registered and gave us their information by texting “School” to a number we held up on our signs. We gave them a bagged lunch and backpacks with school supplies.

It was amazing… we served so many people. We put postcards inviting people to worship with us online (as we’re not back in person yet), but the next day at church there were ONLY a handful of new people that tuned in. We’ve reached dozens of new families from outreaches that are now actively a part of the church… but…

What did we learn?

1. YOU MUST HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

When you do a big outreach and reach hundreds or even thousands of people, it doesn’t mean they are all going to come to church (or watch online) or even the next event you are inviting them to. In the moment everyone is having a great time and you might have people tell you they are coming to your church… but TRUST ME… everyone that says they are coming back – don’t always come back. That doesn’t mean several won’t come eventually (or watch online), but it they may not come back right away and you may NOT see a big attendance increase like you thought you would.

2. YOU ARE PLANTING SEEDS

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul said that he planted, Apollos watered… but God brought the increase. When you do outreach, you are planting seeds, you may be watering some seeds, and you may even see some harvest. Back to point number 1… have realistic expectations as it will mostly be planting seeds. For many of the people you are reaching it is the beginning of a relationship. More than half of the people that came to our Back 2 School Jam were there for the first time. It may take a few more touch points for them to come to an actual service online or eventually in person.

3. FOLLOW THE SAFETY PROTOCOLS

I don’t like wearing a mask in 90 degree weather, but you want to make sure you are creating an environment where people feel safe. Wherever you land on the issue of masks, the bottom line is that this is not about YOU, it’s about others. I will gladly wear a mask if it is going to make others feel more comfortable for me to serve them and others to come and serve with us. If people see you are not following protocols they may not want to come volunteer or come get served by you. We had someone not wearing a mask at an outreach a few months ago and people were quick to blast us on social media. Some of those people were just trolls, but if you follow the protocols, it eliminates that happening and creates a safer environment so there is less risk of anyone getting sick at your event. You want to protect the MVPs in your community (Most Vulnerable People).

4. ALWAYS INVITE THEM TO WHAT IS NEXT

Don’t think people will just organically come to what is next. You need to INVITE them! We captured everyone’s phone number, email and name by getting them to register, so this week we will text and email them inviting them to join us online next Sunday for our new series with guest speaker “Montell Jordan” (The guy that sang – “This is how we do it!”). We also put a post card in each book bag with information how to watch the church online and the kids and youth services we produce weekly on our youtube channel.

5. PRAY

Pray for all those that were touched. It has been a tough year for all of us and many of the people we reached were going through some rough seasons of their life. We pray the seeds that were planted will draw them to God and if it’s his will, draw them to our church. We’ve seen dozens of people come after we followed up in the past.

6. CELEBRATE YOUR VOLUNTEERS

Big outreach days can be a huge boost for your volunteers. Especially during a pandemic. We have to been creative and keep our volunteers active. We had over 70 people come out to volunteer and many of them had not seen each other in months. We also had some new people come and serve and meet us as they had never been to a physical service at the building yet. It was a win all the way around. Serving engages your church and gives them purpose and hands on opportunity to make a difference and use their gifts. Find ways to appreciate them, celebrate them and recognize them during and after the event.

If you’d like to learn more about outreach and growing your church, go to www.urband.org/coaching and check out the ways we can help you take your next steps to reach new people in your city. If you’d like to learn more about Love Our City, check out the FREE Leaders Kit we now offer to churches and organizations when they order a book bundle.

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