By Diana Davis
A Lifeway Research study of unchurched Americans found those outside of our churches are often more open to spiritual conversations than we realize.
How will God use your church in the coming year? Here are 52 easy ideas to inspire you:
1. The 52 Challenge: Members commit to personally invite one person—friend or stranger—to church every week this year, and write the names on their personal calendar.
2. Snow Day: Build dozens of snowmen on the church lawn. Decorate snow-families with creative props and signs inviting folks to church.
3. Plan a baby shower for a local pregnancy center on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, the third Sunday in January.
4. Sunday Brunch: Deliver invitations to homes located near the church building inviting them to worship services and to a Sunday brunch beforehand with their neighbors (and some friendly church members).
5. Pray for Leaders: Invite local government leaders to your worship service. Recognize those who are able to attend and pray for them.
6. Community-Wide Blood Drive: Support your local blood bank.
7. Date Night: Provide complimentary childcare for unchurched couples on Valentine’s Day.
8. Nearly-Wed Seminar: Invite engaged couples to an 8-week seminar before church or during the week. Each session is a topical Bible study about marriage, with homework and handouts. At completion, couples get a certificate and promote to newlywed class.
9. Mission Trip Mania: Plan several mission trips for the year—local, national, international—and challenge members to either participate personally or help sponsor another participant.
10. Interactive Missions Fair: Educate the entire church about how your church does missions both locally and globally. Invite missionaries your church supports and local ministries you partner with to set up booths.
11. Biggest Workday Ever: Plan dozens of projects, involving all age groups. Challenge members and regular attenders to commit at least two hours for planting, painting, cleaning, and other DIY projects.
12. Host a Kite-Flying Day: Encourage kids, teens, and adults to participate and invite friends. Give awards for highest, longest in flight, and most creative kite.
13. Community Easter Egg Hunt: Provide kids’ music, candy-filled eggs, snacks, and a puppet show about the meaning of Easter. Distribute bookmarks or refrigerator magnets that list weekly and special events for kids. Don’t forget to invite everyone to Easter worship.
14. 1-2-3 Serve! Each small group in the church plans a servant evangelism project on the same Saturday, blitzing the entire community with good works in Jesus’ name.
15. Friend Day: Encourage every member to bring an unchurched friend to worship.
16. Car-Care Clinic: Enlist the help of some men in your church to set up a free oil and lube change and general car maintenance operation at your church for the single moms and widows in your community.
17. Stop & Pray Day: On the National Day of Prayer, use an outside banner to invite the community to come inside and pray. Play background music, light some candles, and provide a simple prayer guide, sign-in-book, and printed invitation to worship.
18. Mother’s Day is perfect for a baby dedication and to promote the launch of a small group for new parents.
19. School’s Out Celebrations: Host three last-day-of-school parties. Elementary kids’ ice cream party, middle school pizza party and treasure hunt; high school sand volleyball tournament and Christian concert. Then, provide a summer calendar of church events for each age group.
20. Welcome Wagon: Deliver welcome baskets to people who move into your community. Include baked goods or pantry items, information about your church, as well as coupons to local businesses. The Chamber of Commerce can provide you with the names and addresses of people who recently have relocated to your area.
21. Be Festive: As a church, participate in the town’s annual fair or festival. Wear church T-shirts and have fun. Make a parade float, host a diaper changing station, or offer to be the cleanup crew.
22. Neighborhood Cookout: Encourage church members or small groups to host a neighborhood cookout one Saturday and invite their neighbors to church.
23. Cool Comfort: Open your facility to those in the community who may not have air conditioning. Provide play areas for moms with young kids. Set up a workspace for college students with free Wi-Fi access.
The summer heat is especially dangerous for seniors. So, providing a cool place for them to spend their days may even save a life. You may need to arrange transportation to and from their homes.
For more great ideas, read “52 Ideas for Inviting Someone to Church This Year”
24. Student Camp Sendoff: Members of an adult Bible class select a camper, prepare a snack bag for the trip, and pray for them that week.
25. Outdoor Concert: Invite the entire community to a free outdoor concert on the church lawn.
26. Thank Local Heroes: Invite firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel, and others for a special recognition service and lunch at your church.
27. All-Church Picnic: Plan a fun-filled day of food, games, and fellowship.
28. VBS. Vacation Bible School is an enormous outreach. Visit Lifeway.com/vbs for ideas.
29. Middle School Summit: Incoming middle school students and their parents rotate through 10-minute topical classes taught by church youth leaders and Christians who teach or work in local middle schools. Afterward, kids have a party and parents eat out together.
30. Back-to-School Backpacks: Partner with a local school or shelter and donate backpacks filled with school supplies to school-age children whose families need financial assistance.
31. Move It: Recruit volunteers to wear church T-shirts and help with move-in day at your local college. Later, invite students to Sunday worship and a homemade lunch in their honor.
32. Snacks for Teacher Workday: Bible study classes or small groups select a local school, prepare and deliver baskets of snacks with a note of thanks and a prayer for the upcoming school year.
33. First Day, Moms Pray: Host a tea for moms just after they drop their kids off for the first day of school. Seat them by school or child’s grade level for fellowship. Then, pray for the moms and the children. Provide a list of church activities and worship times.
34. Explosion Sunday: Kick-off new small groups and invite guests and unconnected members to join one.
35. Adopt an International Student. A majority of international students who come to the U.S. to study are never invited into an American home. Work with your local university to host an international student throughout the year. Pick them up at the airport when they arrive. Invite them to dinner once a month and spend time with them during the holidays.
36. “Meet the Teacher” Sunday: Kids invite their school teacher, principal, cafeteria worker, etc., and sit by them in worship. Pray for them during church and honor them with a brief milk and cookies fellowship afterward.
37. Singles Dream Team: About one-third of adults in your town are single. Form a top-notch team to pray and plan multiple small groups, events, and ministries for singles. Kick off with a single adult retreat.
38. New Members Fellowship: Host a bi-annual or quarterly event for new church members to help them feel welcome and make friends.
39. Minister Appreciation Week: Ask members and attenders to send a note of appreciation to the pastor(s) during the first week of October.
40. Stock the Pantry: Ask members to donate non-perishables to your church’s food pantry or a local food bank.
41. Pumpkinpalooza: Display an invitation banner and gobs of pumpkins outside. Kids under 12 pick a pumpkin, decorate it and take it home. Take family photos and invite guests to pick them up on Sunday.
42. Senior Adult Revival: Plan a weeklong daytime evangelistic revival for senior adults. Serve lunch. Encourage members to bring friends who may not know Christ.
43. Citywide Thanksgiving Art Exhibit: In early fall, begin to solicit entries from church members, friends, local artists, art clubs and classes. Using any medium, artists illustrate a Thanksgiving theme. Deadline is end of October, and art is displayed in the church lobby throughout November.
44. Fall Daylight Savings: Plan ahead so early arrivers (who forgot to change their clock) can enjoy their error. Signs at doors can offer doughnuts and coffee in the foyer, library time, or an invitation to watch the praise team rehearse.
45. Election Day: Before voting day, each Bible study class selects one elected position such as Sheriff or City Commissioner. The group purchases a Bible, highlights favorite Scriptures, and delivers it immediately after the election with a note promising prayer for that leader.
46. Baptism Sunday: Invite people who want to become a Christian, and believers who have never been baptized to sign up for a big baptism Sunday. Provide printed and e-invitations for their family and friends.
47. Missions Parade: Emphasize international missions with a simple international parade during worship. Have children march around the worship center during a mission-themed song carrying miniature flags of the nations.
48. Digital Thanks: Members submit one photo and a two-word description of something for which they’re thankful. Show a media presentation of the photos before and after the service.
49. Holiday Food Baskets: Organize, prepare and deliver holiday food baskets to families and individuals in need.
50. Wrap It Up: Provide free gift-wrapping for mall shoppers. Promote upcoming Christmas events at your church.
51. Christmas Caroling: Teams blanket the community with caroling then meet later for hot cocoa.
52. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service: Keep it brief and family friendly. Plan ahead for quality music and friendly greeters. Invite the entire community.
DIANA DAVIS is an author, columnist, and speaker. For more ministry ideas, visit DianaDavis.org.