This last week my husband worked was involved with two Trunk or Treat events. A tremendous amount of work went into both events: cars were decorated with care; volunteers recruited and kept busy, candy, games, and toys bought to give away; church members created inventive costumes (my favorite was Mr. & Mrs. Noah with animal-themed trunk). Lots of kids came and appeared to have a great time. The events were considered a success.
Before I continue, I need to clarify—my husband was helping at two churches/ministries where I don’t have an overall communication responsibility. I don’t want to be overly negative about any member of the Body of Christ that is working hard to do outreach as best they can, but the following situation is extremely concerning to me and that’s why I’m sharing it. Later in this article are links to additional articles that address this topic.
In spite of all they did well—what they didn’t do—and why this makes the event less successful than it should be
Neither group gave away ANYTHING to the attendees that either shared the gospel message, told them about what their church did on a regular basis, or invited them back to the church.
Neither did they do anything to collect names or information about the attendees so they could reach out or follow up with them in the future.
This honestly breaks my heart—when a church does so much with the best of outreach intentions and prayers, but then doesn’t do the nuts and bolts communication work needed to get people to come back to the church on a regular basis. people so you can follow up with them.
Second, a handout of some kind that tells people about what you do on a regular basis. If they don’t go to church regularly, people have no idea what churches do on a regular basis. A simple card that you give out with candy that says “Join us on Sunday!” or something like “If you had a great time with your kids today come back for our kids program!” with the details of time, place, contact information and link to your social media can make a great difference if people return or not.
Third, a gospel tract. You may not have thought of these, but gospel tracts, the little flyers that share the message of salvation can be a very powerful tool. If you need a contemporary reason to use them, consider that advertisers tell us that people need to be exposed to a new idea at least 7 times before it makes any impact at all. A gospel tract can be one of those times. These are small and subtle, but they can be life-changing—you can hand them out in goodie bags or information packets at any event. Here are two excellent sources for them:
Holding an outreach event is a great thing to do, but it is only the start if you want to have a continuing relationship with people so that you can introduce them to Jesus.
Here is another article that will help you apply some of the challenges in this one: Follow-up after a church holiday outreach event: speed dating or relationship building?