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10 Ways to Make a Big Impact on a Small Budget

You can create cost-effective events to invite your community to check out church. Here’s how.

Do big events have to mean big budgets? We talked to almost 30 church leaders who answered an emphatic “no.” The same leaders affirmed that their events didn’t break the bank and served as entry points to let unchurched men, women, and children in their communities know about their weekly worship services and, in some cases, initiate a personal relationship with Jesus.

How have these churches managed the monetary, yet brought in the masses? The solutions are numerous. And while some require little effort and others take a little more logistical maneuvering, they all need a strong commitment and, most importantly, an intentional passion for reaching your community.

The next time an outreach opportunity comes your church’s way, instead of automatically passing it up because “it’s not in the budget,” check out these proven ideas churches are using to juggle their resources.

1. Partner with other area churches.

There’s strength in numbers, as five churches in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have discovered. Each year, they unite for “Convoy of Hope” to bring the Gospel and groceries to needy families in their community. Some 700 volunteers gather on the grounds of a local middle school on a Saturday to distribute 25,000 pounds of groceries. The event also features medical and dental screenings, balloons and clowns, haircuts, hot dogs and drinks, a job fair, live music and drama.

2. Make the most of a city event.

Pay attention to city events happening in your area and use them to inexpensively draw a crowd. Each year during Christiansburg, Virginia’s arts and crafts festival, instead of locking its doors and posting “no parking” signs, Main Street Baptist Church uses its downtown location to make its presence known. The church offers its courtyard for carnival activities and opens its doors for people to come in for refreshments, use the restroom, or just look around.

3. Keep it homegrown.

Who says you have to bring in a big act and put on a pyrotechnic show to host an invitable event that draws families? For $500 each Fourth of July, Eastern Hills Baptist Church in Albuquerque, NM, hosts an Independence Day picnic on the church ‘s grounds that includes a barbecue, a moon bounce for kids, balloons, various old-fashioned races, and music from the church’s praise band. Each family brings their own fireworks, and the church assigns them a certain section of its parking lot.

4. Solicit and attract local business owners’ participation.

If your church is hosting a communitywide event, don’t underestimate the power of petition. Some local businesses are willing to provide services and resources to churches they see supporting the community.

Each year, local businesses donate food, printing for fliers, and door prizes, such as guns and fishing rods, for Bayshore Community Church in Granite Bay, Delaware’s annual Sportsman Banquet. The event is one of Bayshore’s highest attended, drawing 800 men over two nights. Tip: Include names of participating businesses in your promotional or event materials.

5. Focus on one segment of your community.

When you don’t have the resources for an event that reaches everyone, zero in on one segment that makes the most sense for your church. Because Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, MN, has its own sound system, it turned its focus to youth. Each year, the church hosts a large-scale Band and DJ Dance outreach that draws hundreds of students from various high schools.

The church invites local bands to play, eliminating the need to spend thousands on booking a big act. The only thing kids are asked to pay for is pizza by the slice.

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