Outreach projects can help demonstrate the values of your church community to nonmembers. Assess your local community's needs and plan an outreach project that reflects those particular needs; for instance, if pollution or littering are problematic in your area, work together as a church to clean up the environment. Regardless of the type of project or event you plan, encourage nonmembers of your church to participate.
Environmentally-based projects can be an effective way of establishing your church's presence in the community. Plan your project based on the immediate needs in your area. For instance, if there is an excess of litter in a local park, make it your church's goal to beautify and restore the area by picking up trash and performing landscaping duties like mowing the grass or planting flowers.
Get the attention of local families by sponsoring some service projects that will help busy households. Set up a babysitting or daycare service once or twice a week during a designated time where parents can drop off their children and run errands for a few hours. A similar idea would be to sponsor a date night where parents could come to the church for a meal or activity like a dance class while their children are looked after by parish members in another part of the church. Another option would be to offer services like tutoring for children, or classes or activities designed for the entire family to enjoy free of charge.
Set up a donation drive that encourages both church and outside community participation. This combined effort should help to achieve donation goals and boost community awareness about your church. Sponsor a food drive by setting up designated areas in the church and community for people to drop off nonperishable goods for needy families in the area. Clothing, school supply and toiletry drives are some other viable options. Host an entertaining event through the church like a picnic or movie night, and instead of charging money for admission, ask each person to bring a few donated items that are relevant to your church's project.
Your outreach project doesn't have to be all about volunteering and service. Instead, host a community block party to increase awareness about your church and facilitate meet and greets between community members. Host the event outdoors if the weather cooperates, and serve a buffet-style spread of seasonal dishes. Encourage church members to help prepare the food, or if the budget allows, consider having the event catered to save time and effort. Another option is to ask each attendee to contribute a potluck-style dish. Aside from the food, offer music, games and activities for entertainment. Host this event free of charge to increase the likelihood of a strong turnout.
Megan Burns is a graduate from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and Spanish. She has been writing professionally since May 2009 with a Washington, D.C. entertainment blog called Brightest Young Things. Her areas of expertise include music, film and travel.