A church communicator told me about a church that held a large community outreach. They had free food and fun activities for children and families and they did it all to show the community that the church and Jesus loved them. They had a great turnout, but it didn't result in an increased response in church attendance.
The church communicator became frustrated when she talked to an unchurched friend about it because when she mentioned that her church sponsored it, the friend responded, "Your church did that? I thought the city Parks and Rec department put it on."
We put in a lot of work for events like that and I understood her frustration, but I had to gently ask her if the church gave out any kind of card or flyer to people know who sponsored it and to invite them to the church. She said, "No."
Your guests are not mind-readers
That is a typical response I hear from church leaders who put on outreach events and are disappointed in the long-term results. But, if you don't give people who attend your outreach events information about who is putting on the event and what else goes on at your church they won't know. Without clear communication and a clear invitation to return all your hard work may give people a great time—but will accomplish little in connecting them to the church or introducing them to Jesus. [Read more...]