“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
In this week’s Church Revitalization Podcast, we interviewed Jason Daye from Outreach, Inc. Jason has a unique perspective on how the church can maximize its outreach. He shares how valuable it is to leverage the seasons of the year to ensure that our congregations are making a consistent impact in the community.
You may or may not be experiencing autumn right now, depending on where you live. I live in Texas. Here, autumn temperatures are rare; the season is defined less by weather and more by the start of football season.
Changing seasons bring a change of perspective. There’s a new thing happening, and people are looking forward to it.
I love that God in His wisdom and creativity gave us these seasons to demarcate periods of change and to show us his power, glory, and care. He gave us “lights in the firmament of heaven…for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years” – Genesis 14. He gave us times to sow and times to harvest and let the seasons speak on His behalf to guide us in the nourishment of our bodies.
So also then changing seasons should lead us in anticipation and action to continue the rhythm of the Church in sowing and harvesting. Each season year-round should be times of sowing the Gospel of Christ to the neighborhoods and the nations and welcoming those who accept and believe to grow in their faith among us. The seasons are beautiful markers for us to think about how we can bring the Good News to more people.
The Two Givens
Let’s look at developing a rhythm of outreach in our churches first with the two best known Christian times of the year; Christmas and Easter. Even non-believers in most western civilizations recognize these times whether they understand the significance of them or not.
These are undoubtedly essential times of the year in our Faith to remember and recognize what God has done, but also critical times for us to reach out. Non-believers are shown to be more receptive to invitations during these holiday times. People might even expect to receive an invitation to church. Every church should maximize this opportunity.
Off-Seasons for Outreach
Christmas and Easter provide churches with outreach coverage for winter and spring, but what else can we do to maintain this rhythm?
For the autumn, there is a correlation between “back to church” and “back to school.” On a personal level, I wish people wouldn’t see summer as “time off” from the church. However, the church must be vigilant in response to our changing culture.
The church should leverage people’s willingness to re-establish life rhythms when the fall season begins. Host back-to-school bashes, or participate in the National Back-to-Church Sunday promotion.
Churches often treat summer like a lost cause. They call it the “summer slump.” Certainly, a lot of families travel in the summer, but church leaders bear some responsibility for the culture inside the church. Stop speaking of summer as a time in which church attendance is expected to be lighter. Expect more from your congregation. Few families vacation for three months in a row, so any attendance decline due to travel alone is limited for any given family. More time away is likely the result of a relaxed attitude towards engaging the church.
The summertime can continue to be a fruitful part of a church outreach rhythm! Many churches continue the tradition of Vacation Bible School, so that remains a viable opportunity for outreach if executed well. Jason Daye suggested hosting movie nights. Weather permitting, you could host an outdoor movie. If you live in a hot climate, an indoor movie in your cool worship space or fellowship hall will be a welcome relief from the heat.
If you live in an area that experiences summer tourism, take advantage of that opportunity! Advertising special events through local hotels may be an opportunity to reach people with the gospel. Perhaps this will inspire them to join a church back home.
When my family travels over a Sunday, I like to research churches in the city that we will be in and go worship with them while we are there. Encourage your people to do the same and to leave a financial gift for them as well.
Use the anticipation of the changing seasons to keep your people excited about the next opportunity to share Christ with those who do not know Him. Let these rhythms become a part of your church’s culture as you seek to live out your Great Commission Mission.
A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.