10 Ideas for Authentic Church Events and How to Promote Them with Integrity
Marketing and promotion in the church sector walk a fine line between authenticity and making much of ourselves. As you consider planning a new event at your church, it’s important to ask yourself some honest questions:
- What should marketing look like in the life of our church?
- How do we promote events while remaining true to our mission?
- Does this event pursue true heart change and encourage growth, or is it just about filling seats?
As a pastor or ministry leader in your church, planning authentic events that encourage genuine fellowship can, at times, feel like a challenge. You must always ask yourself the difficult question of whether your motives for hosting any gathering are in line with your church’s mission or whether it’s simply about numbers.
Once you’ve answered the motivation question, the different pieces of planning an event can naturally (and authentically!) flow from there. Spending time on the front end ensures that the event itself is cohesive and relevant, and helps put into perspective the real responsibility you have as a leader to see that the entire event fits in with your church’s mission and character.
Event planning and execution is not for the faint of heart – it’s a lot of work! The life of a pastor or ministry leader is far from boring, so we’ve put together a list of 10 authentic church event ideas and universally simple marketing tools for you to consider as you seek to connect with your community and congregation.
1. Host a Conference
Host a conference that plays to your church’s strengths – if your youth program is strong, offer to welcome the young people in your district to gather for a time of fun, fellowship, and growth. Have a gifted worship team? Invite other musically-inclined members of your community and congregation to meet together and learn from one another. Above all, keep your church’s mission and motivation in mind as you plan.
2. Invite a Guest Speaker
Bringing in a speaker with a story to tell or message to share is a great tool to connect with and reach out to your community. Encourage your congregation to volunteer their time as greeters, registration helpers, and food service assistants and/or to join your event’s prayer warrior team. Having “your people” on the front lines provides all kinds of opportunities for authentic community and fellowship.
3. Book a Concert
For many people, a concert is the type of event you would feel comfortable inviting friends and neighbors to. As such, bringing a band to your church becomes an evangelical outreach tool that makes sense and isn’t intimidating for your church family to participate in. Motivate your congregation to volunteer before, during, and after the event so that they feel some ownership and are empowered to invite others to attend.
4. Bible Study Welcome Event
Kick off the start of each new round of Bible study groups with a fellowship-filled welcome event open to the entire community. Attendees can break bread together while they share about what God’s been doing in their lives recently. Those interested in joining from your congregation and community can get a better idea of the studies that will be starting up. Either of the above poster templates can be easily modified to fit a welcome event. These events are also a great way to share about other opportunities to get involved in your church.
5. Church Anniversary Celebration
Church anniversary celebrations can be a wonderful opportunity to bring together the entire church family from past to present. The key is to make the event about what God has done in and through your church, instead of what the people in the church have done – that kind of authenticity is irresistible and makes for an event worth having! Organize a time of sharing stories and fellowship, centered around a meal or fun activity.
6. Moms’ Groups and VBS
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs all the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 19:14 (ESV)
Finding ways to build up moms of all ages in your congregation and community through weekly meetings and fellowship gatherings will have a huge impact on the lives of both those mamas and their children. Plan a Vacation Bible School for the entire neighborhood to give kiddos a chance to have fun while learning about Jesus and parents a helping hand as they try to raise them up in the way they should go in a world filled with challenges.
7. Plan a Community Meal
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”
James 2:15-16 (ESV)
When it comes to planning an outreach event for your church, providing the lonely and hungry in your community with food and fellowship should be a top priority. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are occasions where most of us spend time with our family over a meal. Put your church’s faith into action by hosting a free-to-all spread of traditional holiday dishes and then setting your congregation loose to prepare, invite, and share the meal with those who attend. The above templates can easily be customized to promote your event, and the impact will last well beyond the holiday season!
8. Helping Hands Events
Helping Hands events are a great way to get some of your behind-the-scenes people involved in ministry. Organize a group of men and women gifted in craftsmanship and send them out to give members of your community a helping hand with projects and repairs around their home that they are unable to do on their own. If you have a group of mechanically-inclined individuals, promote a free auto repair and maintenance clinic. Being the hands and feet of Jesus is always an authentic way to connect!
9. Love Flash Mob Saturday
Bless the socks off the people in your neighborhood and community by organizing a “love flash mob.” Send teams out into your city to find tangible ways to share God’s love. Rake leaves, mow lawns, or deliver cookies. Set up a free car wash and draw a crowd by customizing the above template. Shovel sidewalks, weed flower beds, offer free hugs, or just find ways to start a pay it forward movement. Creating business cards for your church that share your service times and contact info is also an effective way to let your congregation connect with those they are serving!
10. “Stuff the Truck” Food or Clothing Drive
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27 (ESV)
Sharing what we have with those in need is a basic tenet of what a church should be. Generate excitement within your congregation by organizing a “stuff the truck” event where the church family and community are invited to bring donations of food, clothing, and household items to fill one or more large trucks to bless a group of people in the neighborhood.
Now that you’ve got an event or two in mind, it’s time to decide how you’ll spread the word…
Church Marketing Tools that Work
1. Church Bulletins
One of the least complicated ways to keep your congregation in the know about your church’s upcoming events is by including them in your weekly bulletin’s event calendar. Write a powerful blurb about the event and feature it prominently in your bulletin’s content. Highlight any changes or updates in the weeks leading up to the event to make sure that everyone is on the same page. A solid church bulletin is the foundational building block of any church event marketing plan. The templates above offer space for photos and text in a way that keeps the reader engaged, which, let’s face it, is essential to the effectiveness of any promotional method!
2. Postcards, Door Hangers, and Business Cards
Personalize your promotional strategy by utilizing materials that reach people on an individual level. Postcards delivered right to your neighbors’ mailboxes add a personal but unintrusive touch to a concert or conference invitation, and door hangers explaining the details of your next Bible study launch connect with your community in their own home. Send your love flash mobs out with customized business cards that provide key details on how to stay connected. As always, accompanying your promotional materials with personal interaction will make the biggest impact.
3. Brochures, Flyers, and Posters
Share your event and its message with more detail by customizing materials with a little more real estate. The folds of a bi- or tri-fold brochure provide all kinds of space for you to go deep about your Moms’ Group or Vacation Bible School. Thoughtfully-constructed church anniversary flyers are easily shared in person or online, and posters that lay out details of an upcoming love flash mob are an excellent way to catch the eye of those passing by. Adding your own photos and authentic content gives these formats the best chance for success!
4. Yard Signs & Banners
Go big or go home by sharing your church’s next “Stuff the Truck” event on yard signs placed along neighborhood sidewalks, and in the front lawn of the church and every member of your church family. Take over your church’s interior or exterior wall space with custom-designed banners that shout the details of your next conference from the hilltops. No matter which option you choose, you can be sure that the word is being shared!
5. Website and Social Media
Extend your event’s reach even farther by promoting it online via your website, blog, and other social media accounts. Share the story behind your Helping Hands event in a heartfelt post on your church’s website or blog. Create a Facebook event and cover image for the incoming guest speaker you’ve booked, then encourage your church family to share and invite their friends. Tweet out a custom image promoting the upcoming concert you’ll be hosting and watch your impact multiply.
Refresh Your Church Events
Ultimately, when promoting a church event, you can have the best marketing materials in the world and all the latest methods of tech-savvy communication, but they will be worth nothing if you don’t utilize the giftings of your church body to share them with friends, family, and neighbors. Get your people onboard and involved by creating authentic events and promoting them with integrity!
Everyone onboard? Take a look at these resources to get you started on the right foot: