Have you ever been in a situation where you do outreach activities or acts of kindness as part of your church, but you never see anybody come to church because of it? Well, I've got some ideas for you that can change that. That's the topic of our podcast, A Better Way!. You can either listen to the podcast here or on many aps listed HERE.
For FREE templates that you can use to create communications that will help identify your church and bring people to it after your event, check out the templates for the holiday or special event you are celebrating. You can reach the overall Template section by CLICKING HERE.
Welcome to a Better Way for Church Communicators! I'm Yvon Prehn and our topic today is “Don't be a Secret Saint, a better way to do outreach on the holidays or anytime to effectively reach people for your church and Jesus.”
Below are the show notes, a transcript of the podcast
Here's a true story about a lost opportunity in a situation just like this in our area. One church often does a compassionate outreach at a laundromat in an area of town where many homeless people do their laundry. My husband was recently talking to a young man who had taken advantage of it and he heard him talking about “some guy who paid for my laundry.” My husband asked him asked him who did it and what they talked about, and the young man responded “Well, the guy didn't say anything. He and his wife just sat in a corner for two hours. I would have talked to him, I would have talked about anything with him. I kind of waited for him to come over, but he never said anything to me! But the guy put in 10 bucks for my laundry.”
Now, my husband and I both thought how sad to pay for washer and dryer use for people who must choose sometimes between clean clothes and a decent meal is a fantastic way to demonstrate caring in the name of Jesus, but only if people know that you're doing it in the name of Jesus.
You see it really isn't fair to them or to your church or ministry if you are a secret service Christian.
Think of a different way to do this—what I’m telling you isn't a theory. My husband ended up partnering with that group and suggested they do it in a different way. The next time what they did is they took along a big assortment of snacks, plus Gospel tracts, Bibles, and little business cards that identified the church and said something along the lines of, “This is our gift to you. We just love helping out and if you'd like to come visit us, please check us out at such and such a church.”
The snacks go a long way in getting people to chat with you and so does helping with their laundry, but the point is you need to do something rather than just sitting silently in the corner.
Now, let's get specific on our application for church communicators.
When your church does things in the name of Jesus, whether it's a one-time service ministry or a big holiday outreach, you must tell people who you are and why you're doing it.
Those of us who are church communicators most often need to remind the people who are putting on that ministry outreach to do this. For example, my husband is great at gathering a group of people to do outreach. I make the cupcakes and I also make the outreach business cards for people that tell them about the church and what else they can come. He hands them out and interacts with the people.
No matter what the size of your church or your structure, oftentimes you need to educate the rest of the staff on the importance of really clarifying and having people be able to identify your church as the source of the help.
Now, here's for example, one thing you might do. The text of what I'm talking about is in the show notes below the podcast, but you might say something like this on a card or flyer you give out at an event:
“Thank you for this opportunity to share with you the love of Jesus. We're from your local church and we're doing this show you how much Jesus cares for you. We have Bibles with us and more to help you learn about him. Let's talk about it now or anytime you visit the church.”
Be sure when you do that, that you have people ready and willing to chat. Munchies, of course, are always great—homemade cupcakes and cookies are always a hit. What I've done many times for events like this is I use regular cupcake mix and I break up an assortment of bars and I put the crumbled pieces into the cupcake batter after I put them into the baking tins—that makes really special cupcakes, but I'm sure many of you have your own wonderful recipes that would work great also.
In addition, the prepared snacks that are nice to give out to people. They can stick one in a backpack for later as well as having one to munch on now. Maybe you have protein bars or something else for them to take after they leave. Now, whatever else you do depend on your church.
Now this, this is important. You hear me carefully on this. Don't lie to the people you minister to. I’m sure you don’t intend to lie, never lie, but don't tell people or invite people to come to your church if they really won't be welcome. Let's face it at some places, at some churches, a dirty, smelly person would not be welcome. Now that's a tragedy that you must deal with completely outside of communications, but honestly, in many churches, a shopping cart filled with someone's earthly possessions won’t be welcome in the lobby. Others might have a problem if people bring their dog, who is their one faithful companion in life along to church.
These are issues you need to deal with ahead of time, and I've just been reading James in my quiet time where he talks about how wrong it is to welcome a wealthy person here at church and then to say to someone who may be obviously has come in from the streets and hasn’t bathed in a few days, “You go sit over there or don't even come in. We really, really don't want you here.”
Think that through. You might even think about offering transportation to your church or you maybe you could do an outreach service near the laundromat or near the homeless shelter or whatever it is. Go out to the people. You may even want to take it a bit further and perhaps once a month have a potluck, a food pantry, a clothes closet, a counseling program, a jobs fair, whatever it is to be helpful to people.
Now, let's also talk about how this applies to larger church outreach events
Whether you're doing something like a fall festival, a Thanksgiving community meal, Christmas outreach, there are all kinds of things, that you will do at different times of the year. You must very clearly tie in what you are doing with what your church does and let people know that they are invited to come back to your church.
People are not mind readers and just because your church puts on something, without clear communication people don't know why you're doing it and what else you do. You need to work hard to create communications for them to tell them. That's a better way to do it. One of the examples that I give people all the time is talk about how we put on a lot of holiday activities for children and that's a great idea.
That is wonderful. We put this or that even on and then we just assume that if people in the neighborhood come to our Halloween festival, trunk or treat, if they come to the Christmas craft fair or whatever it might be, if the kids had a wonderful time that your guests will automatically bring their children back the next Sunday for Sunday School. Now here's the problem with that.
Most people outside the church don't even know that something called Sunday School exists! You must specifically tell them what else you have going on and you need to invite them back to those events. There are so many subtle ways to do this and on the effective church communications website, www.effectivechurchcom.com, I have lots and lots of free templates that you can use to do just. Often a postcard size information card or flyer will work well.
You could put in with goodie bags or you can give people at registration times or whatever that says something like this:
“We are so glad you came to our whatever holiday fun time for children! Now, this is just a little sample of the great things that we have going on for children at our church. Every Sunday at 9:00 we have something called kids cove or whatever you call it, and we'd love to have your children come! Check out our website or social media to find out more about us. You can meet our teachers. We screen them all very carefully, but we just love to have your children attend and have some contact information, so you can contact us if you have questions.”
You see by giving out something like this, you're no longer a secret saint. You are identifying that this is something we do as part of our church. This is something we do as a disciple of Jesus and we would really like to tell you more and involve you with getting to know him.
I hope these tips have been helpful on how you can let people know why you're doing what you're doing in your outreach and special events.
That's all for the podcast today and until next time, this is Yvon Prehn. Please check out the show notes and the links below this podcast, plus the many FREE materials that I've created to help you be more effective at church communications. They're all at www.effectivechurchcom.com.
Please consider supporting this podcast and the Effective Church Communications ministry at the donation links at whatever podcast app that you're using to listen to this on or on the homepage of www.effectivechurchcom.com. We don't take any advertising. We don't take part in any affiliate programs. Plus, we offer hundreds of free templates and other materials for church communicators. To keep everything commercial and distraction-free, for our website and podcasts, your support both prayerfully and financially is greatly appreciated.
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you strong, encouraged and joyful as you serve Him today in church communications.