Our church has several Outward Special Events each year. These fun events are designed to create awareness about our church to the community. We’ve found a formula that proves that a well-done and advertised successful event increases attendance and community visibility, adds visitors and builds a visitor database.
TEN TIPS TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL OUTWARD SPECIAL EVENT
- Do not plan events too often. You burn out your volunteers and become predictable to the community. By spacing Outward Special Events to about four a year, you give your church an opportunity to re-energize and the community something fresh to look forward to in the coming months.
- Always plan an event that will be interesting and memorable. Appeal to and engage all event attendees’ senses. Jazz up a standard event to make it more lively and original. Think about ambiance, music and lighting to create a mood. Add a surprise or two.
- Plan the event well. Almost every church has that person who really knows how to throw a memorable party or event. Enlist their help at the idea stage of the event. They may also know vendors that will add that special something (customized cookies, live music, a surprise visitor, an unexpected display or decorations, etc.). Also, think through the less-exciting details such as coat racks, restroom amenities, garbage cans, traffic flow, weather changes, parking and the needs of the different age groups attending.
- Decide on the event’s target audience. Enlist the help of planners who understand that audience. What you plan for families will be a different event than one that will appeal to millennials.
- Have a clear goal for each event. Goals should include the age group of attendees, a definable number of attendees, as well as the definable desired outcome from the attendees. All planning needs to drive toward meeting those goals.
- Advertise the event using signs, mail-outs, church bulletins, outdoors signs, etc. For example, to execute a children’s event, you may promote it to the local elementary schools, mail a postcard with the promise of free family fun to every home within five miles of the church, and advertise it with large, colorful outdoor banners in front of the church.
- Deliver what you advertise. Miss on this just once and expect poor attendance in the future.
- Register all participants. A growing and useable database is the life-blood for a thriving church to attract new members. Request names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Many churches get this part right, but fail by not putting the information into their database.
- Use door prizes to encourage registration. Everyone likes to have a chance to win something. Display the door prizes where registrants can see them. Make the prizes useful, interesting and something of perceived value—even if it’s small.
- Recruit enough volunteers. A lack of volunteers for events indicates that (1) the congregation isn’t interested in the event or its goal, (2) volunteers are burned out, or (3) volunteers aren’t being utilized for their individual strengths, which drains energy instead of creating it.
Excerpted from The Revitalization of Southside Baptist Church by Dr. Harry Fowler. Dr. Fowler is a pastor and the author of several books on church growth.