The pumpkin-spiced everything season is here, leaves are changing and the days are shorter – Fall is here! And while many churches host successful Harvest Festivals or Halloween alternatives, there are other ways that your church can be more visible and active in your community. Here are some fresh ideas to help your church reach more people this season:
1. Offer free leaf raking services
Many people in your community may be unable to keep up with the extra yard maintenance that comes with fall leaves. Elderly people, those who are ill or injured, or single parents — all could likely use a helping hand with raking leaves.
Recruit a team at your church to commit to volunteering for this several times throughout the season. You can of course start with helping anyone in your church that needs assistance, but you can also ask for church members to submit names of friends or neighbors they know to be in need.
Have volunteers wear t-shirts with your church logo as they perform the lawn maintenance. Dropping off fall baked goods at each house is an extra special touch, and gives your volunteers the chance to connect a little more with people they’re serving.
2. Encourage teachers in local schools
Show teachers at the schools near your church how much your church appreciates the important work they do. In many school districts, budget cuts have forced teachers to spend their own money on classroom supplies so taking donations for classrooms is one great way to show you care.
Another idea is to drop off breakfast — coffee, donuts, fruit, etc. — at local schools. If you can get a list of the teachers in each school, have your church staff or volunteers write them each a thank you note. This is a nice gesture at the start of each semester. If your church is able, sponsoring a breakfast once a month is a great way to consistently show teachers they’re appreciated.
3. Host tailgate parties before high school or college football games
If high school or college football is big in your town, tailgate parties are a great way to get out and connect with a wide range of people in your community. Depending on available space, you can either tailgate outside the football stadium, or host the party at your church beforehand.
Either way, free food, games, and music are a great way to draw people in and connect. You can have a tent set up with your church’s logo and have staff or volunteers wear church t-shirts so people will know who to connect with if they’re interested in learning more about your church.
4. Work concessions at school sports games
Schools tend to rely on volunteers to staff concessions stands during games, and the responsibility often falls on parents of players. Volunteering to run the concession stand frees up parents to watch the game and support their players. It also gives volunteers from your church the chance to connect with students, parents, and community members.
On a similar note, if there are games going on in public parks and fields that might not have concessions, set up your own stand with some free treats for parents and kids alike!
5. Hand out hot chocolate and coffee
If you live in a an area where mass transit is frequently used, have a team go to popular bus stops or railroad terminals with warm beverages. If you can make it a regular once- a-week event, your team will be able to make friends with the regulars and be able to pray with them and invite them to weekend services.
In more suburban areas, look for community events where your church can offer this same service. Make sure you bring invitations so you can hand them out with the drinks.
6. Create a community pumpkin patch
If you have space at your church, creating a community pumpkin patch is a fun way to embrace the season. Pumpkin picking is a delight for children, and their parents will likely be eager to bring them to an affordable fall activity. You can offer pumpkins for free, but also leave a jar out for donations.
If you want to go the extra mile, consider throwing an opening day party for the pumpkin patch. Face painting, fall-themed games, and pumpkin flavored snacks all add to the seasonal fun. You could even host an outdoor concert with a local musician to really get the party going!
7. Stock a local food pantry
Host a food drive at your church to benefit a local food pantry. Find out if there are specific types of food the pantry has special need for. Then over the course of several weeks, ask your church to bring in nonperishable food on the food pantry’s list. Choose a day to deliver the food and recruit volunteers as necessary to help.
Many churches focus on contributing to food pantries in the fall and winter, which is great! There’s a strong need for food in the colder months, especially around the holidays. However, food pantries often see a decrease in donations at other times of year when they still could use help to meet the needs of their communities. Consider sponsoring a local food pantry and committing to regular donations throughout the year.
8. Host a community Thanksgiving meal
Hosting a community Thanksgiving meal is a great way to reach out to those in your church and community who may otherwise be alone for the holidays. Consider who in your community may be far from home and family and unable to travel: military members, college students, elderly folks, etc. Encourage church members to invite friends, neighbors, and coworkers — anyone that could use some fellowship over a meal.
Recruit volunteers from your church to help. You can divide up the day in shifts or teams to keep things organized and make it easier for people’s schedules. Set up, meal prep, serving, clean up — each of these could use its own team.
9. Throw a Fall Family Movie Night
A fall movie night is a great way to offer families a fun outing as the days grow dark earlier and nights become chilly. All you need is a projector, a family friendly movie (complete with movie license), and snacks. Try adding a fall theme to your food — think caramel popcorn and hot apple cider for extra festivity.
Tell your church members about the event a few weeks in advance and encourage them to invite people from their communities. You can even advertise the movie night at other fall events or outreach opportunities (like your tailgate parties or as a follow-up for newcomers).
We hope this list of fall church outreach ideas helps inspire you to get creative as you embrace your community this fall! And don’t forget, there are effective and easy invitation tools to help you spread the word – click here to get started.