Outreach Magazine is a gold mine of out-of-the-box church outreach ideas. Whether you’re part of a big church or a small church, these are great ideas to inspire you and energize your brainstorming and planning for the year.
In no particular order, here are 12 fantastic church ministries creatively meeting unique needs in their communities. (My favorite is at the end!)
Outreach Ideas for Small Churches
1. One Table Café
Trinity Church in New Jersey was looking to create a new community initiative that would take “church” outside the church walls. They were inspired by Jon Bon Jovi’s pay-what-you-can community restaurant and opened one of their own. They wanted to reach out to their community and offer a meal that was delicious and dignified. Many of their customers are homeless, live in extreme poverty or are domestic violence victims. This initiative bridges the gap between people of diverse backgrounds. Those with college degrees and 401Ks and those without jobs or degrees can come dine together. Fourteen restaurants in the area partnered with Trinity to help with the monthly dinners.
2. Beacon of Hope
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Arizona has a specific ministry to the hurting, which accomplishes its mission primarily on social media. It’s a Facebook group for those who are grieving. A couple lost their teenage son in a tragic car accident. They didn’t know where to turn or how to move through their deep grief, but they found solace with others who were walking through heartbreaking situations by reading and sharing posts on the Facebook page. The ministry offers counseling and weekly meetings, but the purpose of the Facebook page is to allow people to share their story through words, prayers, songs, or art and to feel connected to others who understand loss.
3. Connecting Faith and Life
The Boston church called The Intersection identified a need in the community for free accessible exercise and heart-healthy cooking classes. The predominantly African-American community is aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-American women and that most families in the area can’t afford a gym membership. What started out as Zumba class and Bible study now makes up two-thirds of the church’s attendance.
4. Chain Reaction Ministries
When Reverend John Malget moved to Oklahoma City’s First Christian Church, he wanted to offer neighbors in need and homeless people a “hand up” not a “handout,” so a ministry equipping those in need with bikes to commute to work began. Since it’s start in 2013, there have been 1,400 donated bikes.
5. Mother and Child Resource Ministry
When founder Gail Short met a single mom at church who was in desperate need of the basics for her baby, this ministry was born. Blackhawk Church in Wisconsin has now given 3,500 boxes of baby cloths and supplies to single moms who are financially struggling. Short says, “Love is the language they need to hear right now.”
6. Ice Cream Truck for the Community
At Rock Family Church in Colorado, one of their highest values is reaching kids. And, what better way to welcome and attract kids than ice cream? Pastor Dean Hawk received the perfect donation of an old FedEx truck ,which was revamped into an ice cream truck for the community. When kids come for free ice cream, they are given an invitation to come to the children’s ministry program. Hawk says, “For parents, it’s the idea that when you show respect to my kids, you’ve won my heart as an adult.”
7. Random Acts of Kindness
Indiana Pastor Brett Wilson decided to challenge his congregation at Cross Lane Community Church by passing out church business cards with the church’s information and the inscription, “Something Extra to Show You God Loves You.” The idea was to hand these cards out to church members who then used their creativity and resources to bless others. Some snuck the business card and $20 bill at a gas station pump or left the church card with some gift cards in library books to surprise someone.
8. Lego Night
Pastor Melissa Pisco was inspired by her six-year-old son to host a Lego Night at Celebration United Methodist Church in Florida. They invited the community and were pleased when 25 church members and 50 people in the community joined their family-friendly game and movie night.
9. Kid’s Bike Event
Michigan gets pretty cold in the winters, so church member Kara Koster decided to give kids a fun and active outlet for their energy while staying warm inside the church. She connected her Moms in Tow business with a local bike shop and partnered with her church to host an event for kids to come, bring their bikes, and enjoy a bike course at the church, Harderwyk Christian Reformed Church.
10. Manicure Ministry
Church member Nancy Blake and 25 women from Great Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia visit their local assisted living center each week and give the senior ladies manicures. They also organize socials and fun events, but their biggest impact is in the attention, time, touch and listening ears they give the women.
11. Random Acts of Softness
Usually when you think of a quilting club, you picture cute grandmas happily sewing away. But at First United Methodist Church in Kansas, you’ll see a group of teenagers. One student, Braegan Zimmerman was inspired by the impact of a quilt ministry on a mission trip and decided to replicate it in her hometown. Braegan and 20 other students didn’t know much about quilting when they started, but they learned quickly. The next month they produced 20 quilts for children in need at a child advocacy center who had experienced great trauma. The quilts have been a huge comfort to them and they are making more quilts than ever.
12. Aviation Ministry for Teens
An adventure began in 2013 when Pastor Brian Hammond and a few friends dreamed up a way to combine their love of aviation with their heart for troubled teens in their city. After a year of planning, fundraising, and recruiting, they launched an aviation ministry through The Church at South Lake in Florida. The goal is to offer teens a two-year program in conjunction with the teen earning their pilot license. The teen receives holistic mentoring from school academics to job interviewing to budgeting to technical skills.
What other cool ministries do you know of meeting unique needs in the community?