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25 Church Outreach Ideas

people cleaning up and placing trash in trash bagsCommunities benefit when churches serve and are in tune with the needs of the local population. Below are 25 church outreach ideas to help churches practically serve their communities. 

Good Neighbor

One of the biggest ways the church can serve the surrounding community is by being a good neighbor. People who live around your church will notice your actions much more than what is on your sign outside. 

  1. Trash Pickup - Hold service days to pick up trash on the street. This may sound menial, but small acts of service show your neighbors that you care and view yourself as part of the community. This can make a big difference.
  2. Parking - Be considerate with your parking during weekend services. Don’t park on the street if possible, and if you have to park on the street, talk to neighbors to see if they have any concerns, especially if they are residential neighbors.
  3. Seasonal Festival for Kids - Families are always looking for free, kid-friendly activities.  Host a seasonal festival that is open to the community and feels like a genuine way to connect with the people on your street and in the community, versus a sales pitch to come to the church. People are more likely to visit your church when they see you are interested in genuine relationships. These outreach events can be fun and casual such as a fall festival, an Easter egg hunt or even a Christmas pageant.
  4. Book Drive - Hold an annual book drive for a local school. Talk to the school leadership to find out their needs. With budget cuts, most schools can benefit from donations of required reading books as well as other children’s literature.
  5. Tutoring - Offer tutoring for local school children or a school in need. You can work with the administration to set it up for after the school day is over or host a tutoring session at your church one night a week — with pizza.
  6. Lunch Buddy - Work with your local school or a school in need to set up a lunch buddy program. The school will identify kids who need extra attention and care, and a church member can meet them for lunch at school once a week or once a month. A lot of kids can benefit from a caring adult who just wants to be their friend and read to them and potentially tutor.
  7. Baby Supplies - Provide an infant and new mother pantry at church where you keep essential baby supplies such as diapers, formula, bottles, blankets and baby clothes to help struggling moms. Also, stock supplies for the moms such as maternity clothes, feminine products and other items they may need.

Plan a Bible study outreach schedule with a sign up. View an Example


Career Help

  1. Resume Assistance - Help people create or edit their resume and provide computers and printers. Print different formats and examples that they can reference. People may need help thinking through their skills and abilities.
  2. Career Counseling - Prior to the session, talk to church members and local business owners to see what jobs are available or where new opportunities could exist. Then when you meet with people, help them think through what they are good at and what skills and experiences they have.
  3. Clothing Closet - Provide a clothing closet with gently used business attire that people can buy at a minimal price or receive or free. If possible, have people buy clothes, even if for a quarter apiece. It creates personal investment and retains dignity. Open the closet for donations from the church community and have church members scout out thrift shops for career pieces that are in good repair.
  4. Interview Coaching - A key part of getting a job is knowing how to interview and being prepared for different questions. Coach people on interview skills and how to present themselves in an interview. Also prepare them for the different types of questions that might be asked.
  5. Financial Counseling - Many people lack the knowledge or discipline to manage their money well. In When Helping Hurts, the authors suggest that there is a tremendous opportunity for churches to provide basic financial education, such as Christian stewardship, budgeting, goal setting, saving, debt reductions, record keeping, tithing, taxes, banking, managing credit and more.
  6. Job Fair - Host a quarterly or annual job fair that encompasses all aspects of job searching to help the people in your community.

Coordinate a youth group service project with a sign up. View an Example


Support Groups and Serving Community Helpers

  1. Grief Support - Consider hosting a grief support group that is open to the public. Many people who are hurting benefit from having a group to turn to for practical help and emotional support.
  2. Mental Health - With a rise in mental health awareness, consider hosting a support group for those who struggle with depression, bipolar or anxiety. Offer connections to licensed counselors and consider hosting a group for family members of those who struggle. They carry a larger burden than most realize and can benefit from a support group also.
  3. Community Helpers - Host an annual breakfast for your local fire station and/or police department or bring coffee and bagels to their place of work as a way to say thank you for their service.
 
 

Classes

  1. ESL and Literacy - Gather multilingual volunteers to teach English as a Second Language (ESL). It is a tangible way to serve, and the positive impact will benefit entire families.
  2. Exercise Classes - Many people can’t afford a gym membership, but they would benefit from exercise classes. Consider hosting an exercise class or multiple classes that are open to the public.
  3. Cooking Classes - Offer periodic cooking classes that teach people how to make heart-healthy food that nourishes the body and soul. Also let people know where to find affordable groceries, especially fresh produce.
  4. Community Garden or Produce Stand - For neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts,” consider offering fresh fruit and vegetables at cost or for a minimal cost, depending on your budget. If you have land, host a community garden where people can come grow their own food. If you don’t have land, you can work with a local farmer or have someone go to a discount store to buy fruits and vegetables.
  5. Parenting Classes - Offer parenting classes at your church or partner with a local community center to offer these classes. You can speak on a range of topics from child development to teen anxiety and media use. Gauge what topics your audience is interested to learn and go from there.

Recruit volunteers for service committees with a sign up. View an Example


Best Practices for Action

  1. Pray - Gather groups of church members together to pray and ask God to show you how and where to serve.
  2. Research - Do your research beforehand and see what others have done in the past and what has worked and what hasn’t. Do your research on the history of the area/neighborhood where your church is located. Talk to local leaders and social workers.
  3. Partner with other Churches - One of the best ways you can set an example in the community is by partnering with your larger church community to serve together. This shows that you care more about the act of service than any one church or person getting credit. Before you get started, talk to other churches to see if anyone is doing something similar or has done something similar in the past. You can either partner with them or learn from them.
  4. Don’t Duplicate - If another church or group is already doing something similar to what you wanted to do, don’t duplicate their work. Find a way to partner with them or if that’s not an option, find another way for your church to serve. There are plenty of needs, so don’t overrun one sector with volunteers leaving other areas lacking.
Before pursuing any of the above service ideas, talk to people to see what the needs are in the community. Listen to people’s needs and then determine how your church can best help and work for a solution together when possible. Additionally, local leaders may be able to provide insight into what has worked in the past. Above all, let’s not forget to focus on the church’s call to love our neighbor. 

Andrea Johnson is a native Texan now living in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys running, photography and good chocolate.