God isn't bland. The Church shouldn't be, either.
Community Engagement Is Important

Is your church being intentional about engaging your community?

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be an engaging church?

I don’t think a majority of churches are. They only see the hassle of mobilizing volunteers and fear spending money.

What’s with the post picture?

It’s actually a church in inner-city Schenectady, NY we helped during Creative Missions, Harmony Fellowship. It’s a community engagement event called, “Horses In the Hood.” Seriously, the coolest community engagement event ever!

They get engagement, and are very intentional about it.

In fact, they frequently block off the street in front of them and hold block parties — free food, music, and fun. This summer they’re going to be projecting on the side of their building and holding a Wii dance party. I can’t make this stuff up.

You’re more than just a building

I have a big passion for Chicagoland to perceive The Chapel, my church, as more than just seven buildings. That can be hard sometimes.

We have to be personal faces in the community.

Our biggest community engagement win in recent years was the Kids Day 2010 event we did — brought in Noah Munck “Gibby” from iCarly. 2,000 of the 4,000 folks who came through all of our campus doors had never been inside The Chapel before.

We still have a long way to go. One of the things we have to get better at to be a personal face is actually having a presence at all of the summer festivals and county fairs our campuses serve.

Community Engagement IS Marketing for Churches

Plain and simple, I believe churches can throw all sorts of budget at marking and advertising, but in the end a majority of folks come to your church because of a personal connection and being engaged.

Give your regular attenders something to be excited about inviting their circles of influence to.

Some additional engagement ideas:

  • Invest in a block party trailer, and offer it for check out or use it at festivals. Have bounce houses, popcorn machines, vinyl banners, schwag, etc.
  • Use your church’s property to have bounce houses and free hotdogs. No matter where you’re located, you’ll be amazed at how many show up for FREE.
  • Come up with a series topic such as “hope,” and invite local artists to paint their interpretation of the topic. Have these displayed at your church all throughout the series, and end with a celebration and silent auction where proceeds benefit a local charity.
  • Easter Egg Drops at Easter are always a huge hit. Helicopters bring out adults and kids alike. So much more “remarkable” than normal egg hunts.
  • Give Cokes away at a main intersection in your town. Instead of being the guys who are holding buckets and asking for money, actually be giving stuff away. New River Community Church does this regularly. It’s a big hit.
  • As mentioned earlier, be creative like Harmony Fellowship – Horses in the Hood and Wii Dance Parties.

What are your thoughts? What is your church doing to intentionally engage the community?

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  1. Chuck Scoggins (Reply) on June 9th, 2011

    Great post, Cleve. Excellent ideas and insight.

  2. David Tonen (Reply) on June 9th, 2011

    I agree that marketing is all about engagement – and you have to be intentional. I struggle with “event” type marketing for outreach. Yes, they garner you lots of publicity. You may even draw a crowd. The challenge however is creating the bridge from the event to actual ongoing engagement with the church and actual and practical life-changing ministry. I am not saying it can’t or doesn’t happen through big events, but I think the hardest part of the event process is the strategy of connecting beyond the event…and there is no perfect process for that either.

  3. Brad Huss (Reply) on June 9th, 2011

    Pastor Grantley is my HERO! A man with a PASSION and VISION for the inner-city.

  4. Laura (Reply) on June 13th, 2011

    The Fellowship at Two Rivers has sponsored a Faith Night at the Nashville Sounds (our minor league baseball team) this summer and has several different Family Fun Days on and off our campus planned this summer. My favorite community engagement events we have planned are our Serve Days. Lots of different teams will go out into metro and suburban Nashville and do different service projects. I love these because not only are you building relationships with those in the community but building a bond with members within the church—something that’s lost a lot of times in bigger churches.

  5. [...] Days or similar community engagement events to bring families through your doors who would not normally come through them. Also, be out and [...]

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