October is the prime time for church fall festivals. Hosting a Hallelujah Harvest, Trunk or Treat or some other fall festival is a great way to introduce your church to new families in a non-intimidating way. Most churches invest money and time in the hopes of holding a successful outreach event for families. Families are looking for a safe and fun place to bring their children during the trick or treat season. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to ensure that your church’s fall festival is a success.
There are lots of creative ways to do these events but there are 3 definite MUST-HAVES for a successful Fall Festival.
1) Know your WHY
Are you holding this event primarily to love on your community and serve families? Or are you focused on bringing families in so they will start attending your church? If you intend to serve families, then you still want to hand out invites to your family-friendly service, but don’t be offended or frustrated if they are more interested in the candy. Most families are coming to your event to allow their children to have fun! They are more likely to come back and maybe check out a service if they are wowed at your friendliness, kindness to their kiddos and well done children’s games. They are not as likely to come back just by reading the flyer you stuffed in their child’s plastic pumpkin candy holder. And don’t get flustered when people come in that maybe don’t look like your typical church goers or the teenagers who come just looking for free candy. Those are people who need to be loved on and shown the Gospel through free candy and a smile and an invitation to come and be a part just as much as anyone else. So make sure you prep your volunteers with the understanding of WHY you are doing what you are doing. Determining the success of your fall festival should be about introducing the community to the welcoming atmosphere your church offers.
2) Be PREPARED
Make sure you have enough candy, enough activities, enough prizes and enough volunteers to ensure your church has a successful fall festival! Don’t send home flyers in all 775 book bags of your local elementary school and then run out of candy in the first 30 minutes! If you’re going to advertise to large numbers of people, then be prepared for lots of people to come! There is no better way to discourage potential visitors than to run out of candy when their cute little 2-year-old lion is holding out his bag saying “Trick or Treat!” They aren’t going to trust you with their questions and faith journey if you can’t even plan to have enough candy. Plan ahead!!
3) Be a JUDGMENT-FREE zone
The world gets messier and messier, and life is just hard. People need a safe place to just honestly not be okay and a soft place to fall. The Church is supposed to be that place. What a great opportunity during October to reach people who are truly hiding behind their masks and are desperate for answers to their really tough questions! A Fall Festival is a perfect way to invite people in and love and serve them just the way they come. Don’t be surprised at their language, their sketchy costume or their defensive attitudes. Give, love and serve, expecting nothing in return. That is what Jesus is talking about when He challenges us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
As you prepare to have a successful fall festival, what can you do to make sure new families to walk into a welcoming environment?