Wash cars, host a worship night, write letters to seniors, or start a food pantry. These are just a few great ways you can participate in church outreach projects. Encourage church members to come up with other church outreach ideas, nothing is off the table!
Outreach ministry is a fantastic way to give back to the local community and in turn, hopefully see church growth. By participating in any of these outreach ideas, you can inspire your congregation, build a positive relationship with the community, and see improvement all around you.
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Table of contents
- 5 Keys to Success
- 21 amazing outreach ideas to connect with your community
- Holiday Outreach Ideas
5 Keys to Success
1. Organize and Plan
- With whichever church outreach ideas you choose to do, planning is the main key to success. It’s important to note how many volunteers you’ll need, how much time it will take, and how much, if any, it will cost.
2. Make it Fun
- Serving the community is supposed to be life-giving not only to the community members but to yourself. Before your team starts your outreach project, meet up, blast some music, and get excited about the day!
3. Share to Social Media
- With any outreach idea, it’s important to share when the project is happening on social media so that as many people as possible can participate.
4. Be Safe
- This follows planning and being organized as with any outreach project, you want to make sure it’s done safely. Stay in constant communication with whoever you’re partnering with and be sure to follow any instructions.
5. Follow Up
- Don’t forget about anyone after you’ve completed any outreach events. Follow up after and invite them to church. Set up a recurring time when more volunteers can help again in the community. Stay connected and continue to build the relationship.
21 amazing outreach ideas to connect with your community
There are hundreds of great church outreach ideas that you can be a part of. Don’t ever feel overwhelmed by thinking you need to accomplish them all. Pick several to participate in and organize over the years. Even partner with other churches and come together to help the local community. Everyone is stronger together!
Whether your church wants to raise money for a charity or bring people into the church to hear the word of God, the possibilities are endless. Check out these 21 outreach ideas to get started.
Through Prayer Ministry, prayer recipients can overcome struggles with anger, unforgiveness, fear, stress, anxiety, shame, trauma, sexual sins, and depression as well as other undesired behaviors and thought patterns. Prayer ministry can help free recipients from any hindrances to their relationship with God and others, and to becoming all that He created us to be. The mission of any prayer ministry is to intercede to God constantly on behalf of the church leaders and its members, and encourage and motivate the church members to develop a prayer life!
A food pantry is a great way to connect with the needs of your local community. It only needs to be open a few days a week and can be run by volunteers who are willing to give up some of their time. Setting up a food pantry also allows you to connect with local businesses so that you can partner with them for donations and support.
Much like the food pantry, a thrift store is very similar. Collect gently used donations of clothes, shoes, perhaps even furniture. You can set the prices low, and set it up like a thrift store, allowing people to browse and shop for what they need. You can decide if you’d like the thrift store to operate on prices or be a free store for people who can’t afford clothes otherwise.
Does your church already have a coffee bar area? Consider opening it up to more than just Sunday mornings to reach the community around you. This will require a dedicated space for people to come in and get coffee and light food items, as well as a place for them to sit. What better place for people to come and get their morning coffee and start out the day right than the house of God? on-site coffee shop
We strive to introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ, the only lasting source of comfort, and to His Word. Using God’s Word as a foundation, we connect people to an authentic community, helping them avoid the isolation of “toughing it out,” postponing their grief or minimizing their pain in an effort to cope with their sorrow. It is hard for people to ask for help, and it can be really tough for people that feel like they don’t have anyone to go to.
Local Service Projects
Partner with a local charity, local schools, and other parts of the community to find out their needs. If you don’t communicate with the people around you, you’ll never know what they are in need of.
Local service project ideas:
- Cleaning up a local park
- Mow people’s lawns
- Rake leaves
- Paint old fences or buildings
- Spruce up an old playground
- Host a river clean up
- Knit blankets for babies in the NICU
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
Back to School Supplies
Host a “fill a backpack” event at church. The cost can vary slightly depending on the materials gathered. Roughly a donation of $20 per backpack should work just fine. Set up a walkthrough station that allows people to fill up a backpack for an elementary, middle, or high school student at a local school.
This is a super fun activity and kids really enjoy putting together each bag. Once the bags have been packed, take them to a school or multiple schools to bless them.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a very popular outreach idea. Often this is a great time for kids to invite their friends who might not normally attend church. When a child attends church and wants to go, the likelihood of their parent attending church increases exponentially.
VBS usually takes place during the summer hence the “vacation” part in the name. Since kids aren’t in school, parents are always looking for safe activities for their children to do. Not only is VBS fun for the kids but it’s a great place for them to learn about Jesus.
Family Movie Night
Gathering together at church can be a fun event for the whole family to enjoy. You can bring some of the best movies from the big screen to your very own congregation.
Hosting a church movie night is a wonderful fellowship opportunity when we can share God’s love in a relaxed environment. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring in people from the community and enjoy quality time with your church family!
Pick out a movie, purchase a license, choose the best location, and set out some popcorn and snacks! Make sure to share about your movie night on social media and get the word out. Check out our list of fun family-friendly movies and what you’ll need to have a successful movie night.
Special Worship Night
Organize a special worship night at your church that occurs once a year or even a couple of times a year. Invite other worship leaders to participate to even give your own team a break. This should be different from a Sunday morning worship service or any other services you have.
Create space to allow God to be present and move. This is the time to create a welcoming environment and allow church members to invite friends.
Write letters to Prisoners
For those incarcerated, writing and receiving letters and building connections with people outside of prison can provide a sense of hope, validation, and encouragement. This is a great church outreach idea that can provide hope and a sense of community to those who need one.
There are several ways to find an incarcerated person to write to. If you already have a personal connection to someone incarcerated, you’ll need their full name, the ID number they have been assigned by the Department of Corrections, and then full name and address of the facility where they are housed in order to mail a letter.
You can also find any organization that connects volunteers with incarcerated individuals who are looking for pen pals. These organizations can provide a safe, structured way to start a pen pal relationship.
Partner with Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home. They believe affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities. Habitat for Humanity does so much for local communities such as home construction, older adult home repair, and disaster response.
Since 1976, Habitat has helped over 46 million people improve their living conditions.
Women Build opportunities are available all across the U.S., and any woman who wants to learn how to build or repair a home is invited to join. No experience is necessary. Volunteers work under the guidance of construction professionals, alongside other volunteers and future Habitat homeowners.
Pen Pal Program
Create a pen pal program with seniors who are in care facilities. Seniors are often isolated and lonely. Making a new friend is a way to ward off loneliness, and it brings a sense of joy and curiosity. Having a new friend makes for a feeling of belonging which gives people satisfaction.
A pen pal can help reduce the chances of depression and improve mental health. Pen pal friendships are great for those who are hard of hearing because the written word does not involve listening and can be an easier form of relating to someone.
Free Car Wash
A free car wash is a great way to get the youth group involved. Kids and high school students love water activities so plan this church outreach idea during the summer. Set up signs throughout the area that direct people to your church and make sure you have a good system in place!
Community Yard Sale
People tend to hold onto things they don’t need anymore for way too long. What better way to help everyone do some spring cleaning than by hosting a community yard sale? Set up stations or tables in the church parking lot.
Decide beforehand with anyone who wants to participate where the profits should go. It could be a great outreach idea to donate half of all profits to local charities in the community.
Holiday Outreach Ideas
“Trunk or Treat”
This is a great alternative to Halloween or trick-or-treating around neighborhoods. Churches can provide a safe and fun environment for families to come and dress up and get candy. Set up cars in an organized fashion around the parking lot at your church, with the trunks of the cars open. This is set up like a booth and people can get super creative with this! Encourage volunteers to dress up and get into the fun autumnal spirit.
Operation Christmas Child
I’ve known about Operation Christmas Child for as long as I can remember. For the past 30 years, Samaritan’s Purse has generously hosted a shoebox donation. Each shoebox is packed full of quality toys, school supplies, personal hygiene supplies, and more. The great thing is that you can use your own shoebox and wrap it in Christmas paper or they provide Operation Christmas Child-specific cardboard or plastic shoeboxes on their website.
Next, you’ll need a label so that the gift can get to the right boy or girl and the age range you’ve picked out. The age groups range from 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. Once you’ve picked out who you have in mind, it’s time to fill the shoebox! Choose one medium to large “wow” item such as a soccer ball, stuffed animal, or book. Fill the box with other fun smaller toys, hygiene products like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, and finally a few school supplies like pencils and crayons.
There is a $10 donation with each shoebox to cover shipping and other essential costs. You can do this on their website or by mailing a check. There is a national collection week every year and designated drop-off locations! This is a great project to do every year with families to teach kids the importance of giving to others.
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter is a holiday when a lot of people come to church that don’t normally attend week to week. Set up a fun easter egg hunt outside with the kids! Instead of filling the eggs with candy, fill them with scraps of paper with Bible verses on them. If you want to put some candy in there, then go ahead, no one’s stopping you!
Christmas Nativity Set
There’s something special about walking around during the holiday season to look at the Christmas lights. Another thing that is really special is a Christmas Nativity set. It’s a beautiful reminder of the life of Jesus Christ and how he came to this earth.
It can be quite expensive, but there are a few options to pick and choose which pieces you want for your nativity set.
This can be done near Christmas or collected all throughout the year! A bike donation is a fantastic way to give back to kids in need who don’t always get presents every year. Designate a specific spot for the bikes to be stored. Make sure to ask the community members what age range of bikes that are most needed.
There are so many amazing opportunities for church outreach ideas. It’s a chance for members of your church to reach the community in impactful ways. The goal of every outreach is to show the same kindness and love that Jesus gives to us.