“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 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? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – James 2:14-17, ESV

One of the greatest opportunities for any local church is to provide for the practical needs of their community. Where do you get started with outreach? For starters, think of this as a long-term investment in the families and individuals around your growing church. A one-day event often creates minimal impact compared to a weekly or even monthly outreach strategy.

Here are 30 creative outreach ideas for churches:

  1. Partner with another local church to collaborate for great church events. The Church is stronger when we’re working together to reach more people for the Gospel of Christ.
  2. Create a newborn welcome packet – Anyone in your church who knows a neighbor or friend with a newborn can receive a simple “Congratulations!” packet with formula, diapers, a pacifier, and a coupon for one free hour of babysitting provided by someone from your church.
  3. Offer free babysitting at the church hosted by students from your youth group once a month so couples can go on a date night.
  4. Sponsor people to go through a financial stewardship program hosted at your church, like Crown Financial or Financial Peace University.
  5. Partner with a local counseling or therapy center to provide grief support for people who are hurting in your community.
  6. Coordinate recovery groups with your local AA chapter. The local church is where people need to find hope first.
  7. Host a softball or volleyball tournament at your local park. You can have different teams sponsored by businesses or playing for different charities. Whatever you decide, have fun with it!
  8. If you have good weather and plenty of outdoor space, you can host fitness classes. This is especially effective if you can provide free babysitting during the classes so parents can focus on their health while their children receive great care.
  9. Host a family-friendly outdoor movie night and invite all your neighbors to grill out or picnic ahead of time. If you’re wanting to attract more middle school and high school students, you can connect a gaming console to a projector and have mega-sized PVP games projected on the side of your church building.
  10. Build a community garden next to your church building. People can donate seeds, the church can provide the water through a simple hose attachment (water costs are likely quite affordable for your church), and it invites people to grow good food together.
  11. Organize a neighborhood clean-up crew to pick up trash, clean out overgrown grass or weeds, and help your community’s sidewalks to look much better. Yes, your local parks and recreation department may already be responsible for these tasks, but there’s a reason why that area needs cleaning. This is an opportunity to serve selflessly without judgment.
  12. Partner with a local senior care facility or senior living center to provide entertainment (music, comedy, drama, trivia, games, etc.) to help their residents stay connected with your community.
  13. Help people in your community update their LinkedIn profiles to All-Star status or clean up their resumes (#oldschool) so they can find better jobs faster. You’d be surprised how a simple change on someone’s work information can turn them into the perfect candidate for the right job.
  14. Have a photographer do headshots for anyone wanting to look more professional on their resume or LinkedIn profile. A new headshot takes less than five minutes with a good photographer and they can pick up their new headshots after a weekend service.
  15. Set up practice job interviews to help people build their confidence. The interviewers can be people in your church community who are leaders of local businesses. Be prepared: one of your interviewers may like the practice interview so much they may hire the other person on the spot!
  16. Offer rides to job interviews. You can put together a simple scheduling page on your church’s website where people can book a ride to their next job interview.
  17. Create a simple studio setup once a month where someone can record a three-minute intro video for prospective employers.
  18. Have a back-to-business closet of suits and business attire for people to look their best before a big job interview. The clothes can be borrowed or given away. There are likely more than a few church members with extra suits or unused business attire who are happy to donate those clothes toward a good cause.
  19. Organize a Book Drive. This could also include book groups and be a great first step for someone who’s not familiar with your church or maybe even opposed to the idea of church. 
  20. Provide tutoring for students in your community, which may include community college students or night school students. This is a great collaboration opportunity for your church leaders to build a solid relationship with local schools.
  21. Provide coaching for young professionals in your community, such as public speaking, leadership development, conflict resolution, goal setting, and other essential business leadership skills.
  22. Provide free meals to anyone who needs them. During the summer and other traditional school breaks, many kids in your community are likely going without a good, nutritious meal at least once a day. Food insecurity is one of the greatest tangible opportunities for the Church to serve others.
  23. Host a seasonal festival like a Trunk or Treat in your parking lot, a 4th of July Barbeque, Labor Day Bash, or Christmastown. Whatever the season, there’s always something to celebrate!
  24. Throw a “Let’s just party!” party. Spoiler alert: you don’t need any special occasion to host a party. Sometimes, the best parties are the ones that happen “Just because!” You can even have a dance party that’s shared on social media.
  25. Host a chalk art festival or watercolor festival for local artists to show off their work. Bonus points: ask a few art teachers or art enthusiasts to have a couple of stations set up where they can show kids how to create a work of art in 10 minutes or less.
  26. Have a Back-to-School donation drive where anyone can donate pencils, notebooks, backpacks (“Backpack Attack”?), and other school supplies. You can also have special gifts for educators in your community, like restaurant gift cards or artisan chocolates to help them get through the school year well.
  27. Offer simple car tune-ups for single moms and families in need throughout your community. There are likely more than a few people in your church community who know how to turn a wrench or change a burnt-out lightbulb.
  28. Sponsor a night at your local sporting event, like an MLB game. Tickets are usually very affordable in large block sections.
  29. Organize snow removal crews and assign them to specific neighborhoods that may be home to more elderly people. Whenever enough snow falls, each crew can hit the streets to keep sidewalks and driveways safe.
  30. Work with local school educators to provide ESL classes for non-English speakers. This is an incredible way to help people feel more welcome in your community.

Now, you may be looking for more Bible-centric church outreach ideas. Those may be hosting Bible studies, inviting someone to attend church with you, or hosting an outdoor worship service in your local park. Of course, those are all great ideas that may be exactly what your community needs.

The words of Jesus give us the best guidance as we invite people to discover who Jesus is. In Matthew 25, Jesus spoke these words, “‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’”

No matter what you decide to do, it’s essential for us to remember why we’re reaching out to our local community. Don’t forget the real reason for outreach. It’s because of the transformative work of our Savior Jesus Christ and the freedom and hope He gives us as His followers.

You may have questions or even doubts about what may be the best way to reach your community. Trust God to speak into that uncertainty as only He can – and you will find the right answers for your church.