Back to school means back to routines and schedules. Summer is greatly anticipated and wonderful for so many reasons, and the back-to-school season is just as well. The soon-to-be crisp air kind of rolls in freshness for the season is accompanied by the assorted packs of new pencils, bright-colored backpacks, and children’s laughter. Seize the moments with these four back-to-school outreach ideas for your church to welcome families back into the routine of community church life.
Farewell Summer Party
What better way to welcome in a new season than to bid adieu to the current one? This can be as simple as an organized potluck or barbecue and as over the top as a luau. Music, limbo, games (three-legged races, inner tube races, corn hole, water balloon tosses, volleyball, etc.), tropical fruits, and all the things you love about summer should be present. Encourage pictures to be taken at one of your decorated backdrops, complete with props, to be posted on social media and for you to share on your website. The point is fellowship and fun!
Apple bobbing and bonfire night is one of those unexpected back-to-school outreach ideas, but can you smell the marshmallows and hear the fire crackling? How many people have actually bobbed for apples? An alternative to faces in a bucket grabbing apples by mouthfuls would be to hang an apple with a fishing line from a tree limb and have the participants eat as much of the apple as possible. Clasp their hands behind their backs. Each participant has his own apple on a string. S’mores are about as synonymous with bonfires as vacations are with summer. Distribute roasting sticks and a s’mores kit for each family. This way they’re in charge of preparing the treats and disposing of the trash. Don’t forget campfire songs for the win!
Launch the new academic year with an opportunity to pray for your children’s schools. I’ve seen where pastors, priests, deacons, congregants, and parents go to the school grounds before or after school hours and pray for the school leadership and faculty, students, families, and the surrounding community. It’s a beautiful sight- adults holding hands in a giant circle and proclaiming the promises of God over their children. Invite other churches and parishes into your prayer circles and also ask them about their back-to-school outreach ideas for churches. Decide if you all would like to continue to pray together monthly and where. Perhaps each church can host the prayer circles at the schools or facilities. Being a unified force will be a beautiful picture of the body of Christ working together in your community!
Let’s go to the movies! Host an outdoor movie night as one of your back-to-school church outreach ideas. Capitalize on the beauty of the night air and being together. If you’re feeling really industrious, make popcorn and bag it for sale to benefit the children’s ministry. The smell of freshly popped corn and butter sets the tone for a night of entertainment.
Moviegoers will be delighted to sit on their brought-from-home blankets and outdoor chairs. Some will want to make an evening of it and have a picnic-style dinner before the show starts- the options are endless. Upon arrival, hand each person a “ticket” with the next planned church event on it. Include your church information and a small greeting. Make sure there are areas where these tickets can also be picked up for distribution. Use this movie night as a social connection tool to grow your church and continue to fortify your community relations.
Spread the word
- Share your back-to-school events on your website, church app, and Facebook.
- Print invitation cards for the neighboring community. Send them home with congregants to share with friends- this is outreach, after all!
- And, whatever you do, don’t forget to include a table with all the happenings of a welcoming church life in the fall- women’s bible studies, men’s breakfast fellowships, choir practices, Awana, pantry stocking, and church clean-up days.
It’s good for congregants to see that the church is thriving and planning future events in which they can participate. Yes, we worship the Lord at church and learn how to be more like Him. We can also build community and have fun together!
Please visit Church Growth on the ACST website for more information on back-to-school outreach activities.
Cary serves as ACS Technologies’ Chief People Officer. He joined ACS Technologies in 2012 with more than 20 years of progressive and strategic Human Resources leadership experience. From multinational corporations such as Roche Pharmaceuticals, Becton Dickinson, and Baxter Healthcare International.