42 Church Outreach Ideas (That Actually Work)

Your church is thriving and you’re looking for ways to get the message out. To do so you’ll need to develop church outreach ideas.

Church outreach goes beyond the normal routine of attending church and it’s much more than a Sunday activity.

It wasn’t long ago that church outreach limited itself to a few options such as street evangelism, door-to-door visits, feeding the homeless, and pot-lucks. These days, churches have become more creative in their outreach.

Some churches even have their own coffee shops and bookstores.

Activities are often based around common interests and vary based on the make-up of the church. Churches with more senior members may offer outreach ideas like book clubs or meals for the homeless. Churches with many young adults may develop church outreach ideas that include sports and children.

In either case, church leaders help facilitate these activities, keeping them mission-focused and fun!

The options for outreach are limitless, given they keep the Great Commission as their motivating factor. Outreach often brings a community closer and opens the doors of the church to new faces. Let’s take a closer look at the overall purpose of church outreach.

Purpose Of Church Outreach 

It’s one thing to invite a friend to church, but it’s much easier to invite a friend to a community activity. Sometimes the latter can help non-believers see that the church is a welcoming place to learn about Christ (also read my article for inviting friends to church).

Although church outreach might be fun, or take place outside of church property, it should have a mission to share the gospel through action or spoken word. Christ’s admonition to serve others and share the gospel is always the driving purpose.

42 Effective Church Outreach Ideas

1. Church Picnic

A church picnic may seem like a private event, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the perfect time to invite friends to a low-pressure social activity where people can be outside, enjoying great weather, conversation, and food.

It’s perfect for families with children. Kids can interact with other children and make new friends.

2. Trash Pick-Up

No one likes to see trash on the side of the road. It’s unsightly and makes a bad impression on the community.

It doesn’t matter if you live in the nicest city or a small town, there are areas of your community that need to be cleaned up.

Organizing a trash pick-up group can bring people from all areas of the community. Age is not a factor so it can even be a family event.  Create a sign on the side of the road to let the community know your church is organizing the event (do good and advertise at the same time).

3. Feed The Homeless

Helping the homeless is one of the most common church outreach activities. It’s a great way to serve others and improve the health of your community.

Churches often work together to prepare large amounts of food and outreach can include Scripture, clothes, and toiletries.

4. 4th Of July Fireworks Show

Everyone enjoys a 4th of July fireworks celebration. If your church can budget the cost, consider putting on a fireworks show for the community (also ready my article on Pastor Appreciation Ideas).

Fireworks aren’t cheap, but an outreach event like this can attract new faces, especially kids.  It will also put a smile on people’s faces!

5. Free Babysitting

Do you have young couples in your congregation? Want to provide a free service for your community?  Free babysitting (for date night) could be a good way to appreciate young families in your area.

Promote a monthly free babysitting event at your church. Parents at your church and from the community will drop off their children for a few hours and enjoy some quiet time. Babysitting is expensive so parents will love this! Just make sure you have experienced volunteers to take care of all the children.

6. Church Partnership

More and more, churches are willing to partner with other churches to meet a common goal. Sometimes churches are competitive but they don’t need to be.

They should be service-oriented and if that means working together then cooperation should be welcomed. Church partnerships could include many of the activities on this list. Because your church is partnering, there may be bigger opportunities to impact your community.

7. Preschool / Kindergarten

Many churches offer preschool and kindergarten services. Church members who have teaching backgrounds or experience with babysitting may volunteer their time to help others.

A fee could be charged to help raise money for the church and it could attract parents who want a safe, faith-based place to teach their children.

8. Church Sports League

Have spare land or a gym at your church? In larger cities, space might not be available. However in rural areas, churches often have extra land that can be used for games and events.

If your church is paired with a school there will likely be a gym for basketball and volleyball.

Don’t let these resources sit unused. Organize a sports league where people from the community can compete and exercise. Dodgeball, volleyball, indoor soccer are fun ways to compete that don’t require too much land or space. If your church doesn’t have space, consider partnering with a church that does

9. Street Evangelizing

Have you ever walked up to a person on the street and chatted with them? It takes courage and may be uncomfortable, but most people are open to a conversation as long as it’s respectful (read more about how to be a missionary).

Your church is bound to have outgoing (and funny) personalities who can engage with anyone they meet. Utilize their skills to organize a street outreach event.

Street evangelizing doesn’t only mean approaching strangers. Sometimes it’s better to let them approach you.

Create a booth at a park or on a busy walkway. Have a sign that describes your church and your purpose. Offer a few homemade snacks and you’ll be surprised how many people stop to learn more about your mission.

10. Prenatal Classes

Prenatal classes are something most expecting mothers and fathers participate in. The classes are designed to build confidence and physical resilience during the birthing process.

If you have the expertise in your church, consider organizing free prenatal classes and use it as a tool for outreach. Wonders of childbirth may inspire non-believers to reconsider their walk with God (read my long list of Christian Marriage Retreats).

11. Church Sponsored Coffee Shop

Opportunities arise with social trends.  This couldn’t be more true for coffee, which has seen an increase in specialty coffee.

If you have coffee connoisseurs in your congregation, a church sponsored coffee shop could be a great way to bridge your church with the community.

Try offering coffee beans and coffee with a story. Buy from Christian growers and include opportunities to support them.  Depending on your church location, a coffee shop could be located on church property or in another area with high foot traffic.

Perhaps an established coffee shop with a Christian owner would set aside one day a month for coffee for the community.  Profits could be donated to a neighborhood need with church members volunteering their barista or waiter services.

12. Self-Defense Classes

Self-defense is important for everyone. Men, women, and children should be able to protect themselves and their family.

Jujitsu classes are an increasingly popular way to protect oneself. There are other martial arts that can provide your congregation and community with confidence and strength.

A self-defense class doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. Introductory classes could be offered to the community by members of your congregation who regularly train. Physical activity is a great opportunity to share a message of faith.

Local law enforcement agencies often offer classes at low cost or free. You could host them at your church.

13. Thanksgiving Meal Delivery

Thanksgiving is a special time in the United States and traditionally reserved for families. However, not all people have families or their own and many people spend the day alone.

If you have ample volunteers, consider preparing meals for those who don’t have family. Seniors, singles, and those in the hospital may be the people who most appreciate the outreach activity.

14. Concert

Are there Christian musicians that are passing through your area? If so, consider hiring them for a concert.

People love music and it’s another easy opportunity to invite new faces to your church activity. Hiring musicians who don’t have lyrics but are talented with instruments can make the event religiously neutral and attract both believers and non-believers.

15. Nursing Home Visits

Growing up, my family always visited a nursing home for seniors. We socialized with the people living there and most people were appreciative because they rarely had family visit them.

I remember they lit up when they saw younger people (they were usually only around other seniors, doctors, and nurses).

Regular nursing home visits are a great opportunity for the church to make a difference in a community.  Whether it be small groups or Sunday school, all ages can get involved with nursing homes.

Take them flowers, engage in conversation, play board games, and tell them about your faith.

16. Crossfit Group

Put the “cross” in Crossfit. Exercise and health play an important role in today’s society.  God tells us to treat our body as a temple, so exercise is a great way to follow Him. Years ago I volunteered to lead an aerobic exercise class and it was lots of fun.  Crossfit has become more popular now.

If you have exercise-minded members in your congregation, ask them about starting a faith-based Crossfit group. Work hard, reap rewards, and give thanks to God.

17. BBQ Competition

Whether you call it barbequing, grilling, or smoking the art of cooking over a fire is a favorite weekend activity for most men. Ask any guy and he’ll tell you he has a special recipe that beats the rest (long list of family table topic questions).

Organizing a BBQ competition is a perfect way to bring a community together and feed people. Provide a cash prize for the winner and grow this event each summer!

18. Golf Tournament

Golf is a fun way to encourage activity and cooperation. Organize the event in groups of 4 and ask other churches to join in some friendly competition for community bragging rights.

Invite church members and ask them to include friends and family who don’t attend church.  These can also be  organized for a good cause such as foster childrens’ or pregnancy centers’ causes.  Play golf and offer an opportunity to donate.

19. Movie Night

I still remember movie nights at my church. It was an opportunity for families to enjoy a wholesome film with other families. It also provides a free form of entertainment outside the home.

Organize outdoor movies using blankets and projector and screen. This is particularly great if you live in a climate where evenings are warm and comfortable.

20. Youth Sports Sponsor

One of the easiest ways to reach your community outside the church is to sponsor a youth team. For example, Little League baseball teams routinely have community sponsors that pay a small fee that pays for the uniforms.

A youth sponsor is mostly an advertiser, however, a sponsor could get more involved by hosting occasional events and an end-of-the-year party for “their team”. It would be a good way to build familiarity with the community.

21. Jog-A-Thon For A Cause

There are always people in need. It may be first responders who need support, or families fighting cancer, or a tragic event like a home that was burned to the ground.

A Jog-A-Thon is an outreach opportunity that helps the community and gets people involved. Keep an eye on the newspaper in your area and look for Jog-A-Thon opportunities to help others. This activity can be a one-time event or a frequent initiative for the community.

22. Youth Mission Trip

Missions trips have always been an exciting opportunity for church youth. Whether the opportunity is building a house in Mexico or cleaning up after a devastating hurricane, a mission trip educates youth to the world and helps others.

Mission trips don’t have to be far away, they can be in a local neighborhood where help is needed.

23. Youth Sports Camp

As a youth I always attended a youth basketball camp that was run by my church. The camp included volunteers from the church and from the local university.

I enjoyed that it wasn’t serving only our church. I saw non-Christian friends from school and familiar faces from neighboring towns.  I viewed it as a great way to introduce our faith to others in the community!

24. Music Camp

Most churches have a praise band and all churches are bound to have a few members who play an instrument. If your church members have unique talents put them to use with a music camp.

Parents are always looking for education opportunities and music is healthy for the soul.

Introduce the basics of piano, guitar, or drums and let the kids know they can hear music every Sunday service! 

25. Backpacking Trip

A backpacking trip can bring us closer to nature and allows us to spend time in God’s perfect creation. Backpacking trips aren’t usually for large groups, but a church could use the activity to connect with people in their community.

Without distractions, time spent around an evening campfire promotes conversation and it’s an opportunity to share one’s faith with others.

26. Prayer Groups

Prayer groups and small groups are usually reserved for regular church attendees. Yet prayer groups can also work as an outreach team (also read my long list of things to pray for).

Prayer groups could organize prayer breakfasts and community prayers at public parks and monuments.

They can offer prayers to community leaders, schools, and families. Think outside the box with prayer groups and explore ways to serve the community.

Praying around a neighborhood is wonderful.  I was able to participate in an activity last year where we began the new year walking through the church’s neighborhood.  We stopped to pray in front of homes where there was a need.

Usually an elderly or sick person was inside. There was a Christian officer who accompanied us on his bicycle.  

27. Awana

Awana club works with volunteers to educate children and teach Bible memorization. They make it fun with awards and competition. The club is ideal for Christian children but it offers an opportunity to invite others in the community as well.

Many parents find out about the evening “club” and start dropping their kids off for free babysitting.  It isn’t long before the word of God does its work and the whole family becomes Christian.

28. Sponsor Education

Education sponsorships to help children are common, but many of the most popular programs are for young students overseas. While those options are great, churches can also reach out to their community to assist with education opportunities.

High school students might want to attend a Christian school but are unable to afford tuition. Similarly, university students could benefit from a scholarship. Assisting others with education is a wonderful outreach idea.  

29. Have A Booth At The Fair

Does your town or county have an annual fair? Everyone loves going to the fair. There are games, plenty of food, music, and animals.

Your church could sponsor a booth selling popcorn or pie.  Or your church could raise a few animals to show in the fair. Get involved with these activities and share the gospel!

30. Offer Student Driving Lessons

Every teenager is required to take driving lessons if they intend to drive on their own. If your church has qualified drivers, the church could provide driving lessons to hundreds of kids each year. Put the name of your church on the side of the car and let the community know about this service. Drive safely!

31. Date Night For Young Couples

Most couples want to have a date night but it often gets put on the back burner because of work and family responsibilities. Promote a community date night at the church where couples can converse, have a good meal, and have child care taken care of on site.

32. Dinner For First Responders

First responders put their life on the line every day while serving our community. Appreciating local leaders and first responders is something everyone can agree on and churches should celebrate them.

Organize a barbeque at a public park, give out appreciation gifts, and thank your local leaders for their support. 

33. Paint A Community House

Do you have hard workers who are willing to donate a Saturday to improving their community?

Professional painters use expensive equipment to paint homes. The process isn’t cheap so many homeowners put off painting their home.

Identify a neighborhood where there are homes that need painting. In many cases you’ll find that single parents or seniors don’t have the time or resources to do the job themselves.

Paint a few homes in your community will improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood, make the neighbors happy, and increase property values. It’s a win-win for the church and community.

34. Buy A Seating Section At A Professional Sporting Event

If you’ve been to a sporting event, you’ve probably seen large groups mentioned on the video screen. Groups can buy entire sections of seats to enjoy a day of sports.

Tailgate before the game and engage with passers-by. Walk around the stadium and chat with other sports fans.  Bring a sign of your church and wave it during the game – you never know, you might be on television!

35. T-Shirts (ask about my church)

T-shirts are an easy and affordable outreach idea. You don’t even have to sell the shirts, simply give them to your congregation.

The shirt could say “Ask me about my church”, or “My church rocks”, or “How can I pray for you”.  Wearing the shirt around town is a good conversation starter and a great way to build familiarity with your church.

36. New Year’s Eve Celebration

New Year’s Eve is one of the most fun times of year. If we look back at our lives we can likely recall where we were for most New Year celebrations.

Some people enjoy visiting the big city for New Year’s Eve, while others prefer staying home with family. So why not do something in between?

Invite kids or adults to a safe and wholesome New Year’s celebration.  Include music, movies, and food. 

37. Nativity Scenes and Message

One of my best memories of Christmas is from our church nativity drive through. Scenes were displayed showing what led to Jesus’ birth.

It was free to the community and fun for everyone.  Cars drove though and listened to a recording that explained the days that led to the birth of Christ.

Many of the families who attended the nativity drive through did not belong to the church, so it was a brilliant outreach idea.  It can be as simple or elaborate as you like. People at Christmas just want to celebrate and will go many places they wouldn’t normally think of going.

38. Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is part of being a responsible Christian and it’s also a life skill that many people overlook. Online, you can find countless services that offer courses for a fee, but there are many free resources as well.

In your church there are bound to be responsible, finance-savvy individuals who know about managing money. Ask for volunteers to teach an introductory financial literacy course, which can be done over a weekend.

Your community could benefit from the course and during the lesson you can discuss God’s direction for managing money and tithing.

39. Talent Show

Want to host a fun activity and learn more about your community? A talent show brings out the lesser-known (and sometimes laughable) abilities of people you know.

Advertise the talent show in the local newspaper, set the rules, and bring people together to appreciate an evening of entertainment.

>> Also read my Church Anniversary Ideas and Themes

40. Book Club

Books clubs are a way to bring like-minded people together. Most people either love reading or hate it. For those that love it, give them a place to meet and discuss popular books.

The book club might have a theme, or it could jump from one genre to the next. It could also have a faith-based approach to review commentary on religion.

The internationally known Alpha Course is a Bible study for new or non-believers.  It requires a bit of teacher training but has been very successful sharing the gospel in a non threatening atmosphere. 

41. Foodie Tour Group

The term “foodie” might seem trendy or cheesey (pun intended), but foodies love trying out the latest foods in the latest restaurants.

Your church could organize a food group that meets each month and visits restaurants and food trucks in the community. They could review the food and help the community know which places serve the best food!

42. Thrift Store

I saw my first church sponsored thrift store when I lived in San Diego. I thought it was a brilliant idea to recycle old merchandise, serve others, and promote the church.

The concept was a big hit! Church members donated clothes and other household items and the church was able to resell it at a bargain price.

Depending on the size of your church, this could be an option for outreach in your community.

Considerations For Outreach Ideas

Objectives

Outreach shouldn’t be organized haphazardly. It should be a well-thought-out activity with specific objectives in mind. Objectives will differ slightly based on the activity, therefore, documenting these goals are important.

Budgeting

Many church outreach ideas will require a budget. Few ideas will bring back money, so budget accordingly.

The good thing about many of the ideas mentioned above is that you can do outreach with minimal cost. Many community outreach activities can be done on church grounds or in public places such as parks. Don’t let a lack of funding discourage your church from doing outreach.

Location

As mentioned above, your church outreach idea can take place in a variety of places. Whether it be at your church, a park, a community gym, a county fair, or another church, the options are endless.

If you plan to do outreach in a public space, make sure you obtain the necessary permits. If there are complaints from the community, you’ll have the documentation and approval to continue the activity!

Personnel

All the church outreach ideas in this list will require personnel. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and volunteers. You’ll be surprised at the skills and abilities of your church members.

Accountants, athletes, teachers, nurses, cooks, and farmers can all provide expertise and hard work to make sure outreach is successful.  When in doubt, just ask your congregation for their outreach ideas!

Conclusion

A church is part of the community, so it’s important to be active outside of Sunday service.  Historically, churches organized pot-lucks, provided school and babysitting options, and helped feed the homeless. These days, churches have become much more creative in their outreach.

Workout groups, food tours, thrift stores, coffee shops, and sports leagues are all ways churches can provide a service to the community. The best part about this is outreach can help the community but also increase awareness of the church.

In many cases, outreach will attract new faces, which turn into new believers.We mentioned 42 church outreach ideas, but there are so many more options for your church to impact the community. Be creative and keep the Great Commission as the focus.