By Lane Corley
Along with Vacation Bible School, summer offers us some great opportunities for outreach and seed planting in our communities. Here’s a few that I’ve tried or learned from other Louisiana churches:
Water bottles for front yard lawn mowers
Fill a few ice chests full of ice cold water or Gatorade, then head out on Saturday morning and watch for people working in their front yard. Interrupt them by giving them a bottle and a small connection card to your church. I promise they won’t mind.
Face painting or balloon animals at local festivals
Every Louisiana community has a festival, car show, farmers market or something. Add to the gathering by offering something fun for kids. Face painting is easy for almost anyone. Poll your team for other talents that might be unique and entertaining. Don’t forget to have invite cards to your church or Bible study.
Fun for kids at multi-housing complexes
If you haven’t already, you should get to know the managers at local multi-housing complexes. They’re often required by upper management to provide events for the park and in my experience they are stressed about that! Offer to help by extending a VBS activity or showing up with a snow cone machine or bounce house a few times over the summer. It’s a great way to build some relationships and show the community your church cares.
Snow cones at Local day cares
Private day cares are usually very open to engagement with churches. Especially if you offer free snow cones for every child in the afternoon! Snow cone machines rent for $100 or so, check around to see if another local church has one, or if you’re part of a Baptist association, they may have a block party trailer equipped with a snow cone machine plus more. Ask the daycare if they’ll send home an invite card or event invite from your church in backpacks in return.
Outdoor movie nights
Pick an area park, backyard, subdivision common space, and a short movie. Outdoor movie screens can be purchased for around $200. Projectors are available from partner churches or your local association. Pop popcorn and show the latest family friendly movie that has come out in theaters and a crowd is usually easy to draw. Our church gives away microwave popcorn with a sticker that says “Pop In On Us Sunday” inviting people to our church.
New resident welcome baskets
If families are relocating, chances are they’re trying to do it during the summer. Help your members get their eyes open for the houses for sale around them and watch for new people moving in. Prepare a welcome basket with things that would be helpful for new movers and new residents in your community, along with a connection card from your church. This also helps your members to make early connections and build relationships with their new neighbors.
Hurricane prep for local mobile home parks
Great men’s group project. Connect with a local trailer park and offer to cut low-hanging limbs back away from trailers in the run up to hurricane season. This is a great service to residents and management that will never be forgotten. Pole saws rent for $125 or so and probably at least one guy in your group has a chainsaw.
Free movie day for stay-at-home-moms with kids
Turn your church or a local meeting hall into a free cinema for the afternoon. Show a favorite kid movie with popcorn and box drinks. There’s probably a local mom’s Facebook group that you can spread the word through.
Outdoor summer concert
If your church or community has a nice green space, find a local musician or band (no shortage of those in Louisiana) and throw a free sunset concert. Offer free drinks and invite cards to your churches gathering.There’s really no right or wrong way to reach out and make contact with people for the sake of the Gospel. We only fail if we don’t try. Praying for many seeds sown across our state this summer!
Got other ideas for summer outreach? Don’t be stingy. Please share.
Lane Corley is a church planting strategist for Louisiana Baptists and pastor of the Bridge Church in Madisonville.