Summer is a busy time for many ministries—you might have Vacation Bible School, summer camps, retreats, or special Bible studies. And in the midst of all that, you’re trying to plan for your entire fall ministry as well as ways to kick off that ministry!

As you think about how to organize your ministry for the rest of the year, don’t forget to organize a few outreach events. It’s important to engage your current members with a wide variety of fall ministry options, but the beginning of a new school year is also a great time to reach out to those in your community who aren’t connected with your church (or any church).

Intentionally plan a few varied outreach events, and then tailor the rest of your fall ministry to welcome new guests as well as engage your current members. At all of these events, have connect cards at the ready so you can follow up with people if they’re interested in learning more about your church.

If you’ve never planned an outreach event or are looking for inspiration, here are a few ideas to get your outreach team started!

Invitation Sunday

Back to Church Sunday is a popular event among thousands of churches, where members invite friends, co-workers, and neighbors to church for one epic Sunday of outreach ministry on the third Sunday in September. This year, the Sunday falls on September 15.

You don’t have to participate in the nationwide event, but you can host a rally Sunday, your own invitation Sunday, or whatever you decide to call it. Encourage your members to invite at least one guest, and then have events specifically for guests (without isolating them).

Beginning of the School Year Bash

If your community has a lot of children or college students, hosting a large rally at the beginning of the school year can build excitement for families and students and get them into a new routine of attending church or Bible study. With new school years come new routines, so take advantage of this fresh start to accommodate new families and students.

Organize a big kickoff event for the beginning of the school year (and celebrating the final days of summer) at a local park or common area. This is an ideal opportunity to send out mailings to a large portion of your community—anyone, including those without children can come celebrate! Hosting it in a neutral area often encourages non-Christians to attend, and it takes the pressure off guests.

You might consider asking your members to collect school supplies that are on lists from local schools. If you have the time and resources, consider filling entire backpacks with everything students would need to start the school year. This is a great opportunity to not only tangibly make a difference in the lives of those in need, but also to show Christ’s love to them!

End-of-Summer Concert

Grab your worship team or a local band and have them set up in an outdoor band shell or your church campus. You can make this a night of worship to pray for blessings on the upcoming school year, or just have your band play appropriate songs that aren’t necessarily Christian for a night of family fun.

Choosing which route to go (Christian or more secular music) will impact the reach and impact of your event—some people might not want to attend a worship night, but it might also encourage curious people to visit your campus at a time other than Sunday to get a feel for how your services are. If you choose to do non-Christian music, consider the potential implications—does that accurately reflect your church community and how you live? What message does that send to those who aren’t yet Christians?

Carnival or Fair

Organize a small carnival or fair with food trucks and bounce houses! Find someone who’s creative in your congregation to do face painting, and organize some carnival-type games that are quick and easy to play! You can give away prizes, snacks, or coupons to participants.

This event can quickly get pricey, so keep that in mind when you’re planning. Hosting a carnival is a neutral event that easily welcomes people who aren’t members, but you have to weigh the literal costs with the benefits. If you’re unsure what the impact will be, plan it on a smaller scale with more do-it-yourself options. If the event is a success, then consider expanding your budget and resources for next year!

Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is in May, but you can organize your own version to kick off the school year! You could have an early-morning get together on the first day of school, or have a special short service on Sunday afternoon.

At the service, ask God to bless the students, teachers, and staff in your community this school year. You can specifically recognize these groups of people by having them come up to the front to pray over them, or just have them raise their hand if they’re going back to school in some way.

If you want to do something similar but don’t have time, consider doing a Facebook or Instagram Live of your pastor or children’s minister praying for students instead.

Do you have any other fall ministry outreach activities to reach your community?