Our church had been hosting an annual Fall Festival for decades when we decided to switch to a Christmas community outreach.
Why the switch?
1. We weren’t hitting our target.
We analyzed the attendance data from years of hosting the event and discovered that the vast majority of attendees were committed Christians with a church home. These were mostly Christian families that were simply looking for a safe, fun, Halloween alternative for the kids.
Our church’s mission is to reach unchurched families for Christ. Because of this we analyze everything we do in light of its evangelistic effectiveness. Some people say, “Well if it reaches even one person it was all worth it.” The Greek word for that philosophy is BOLOGNA! That’s just a Christiany way of justifying failure. The simple fact of the matter is either something is effective or it’s not. The Great Commission is too important to waste time on strategies that aren’t effective.
2. Fall Festivals are a dime a dozen.
We checked it out during our last year of Fall Fest and there were more than 10 other Halloween alternative events in the community. In fact, it seems Halloween is extending from a one night gig to a weeks long event marathon. Competing against that backdrop meant going BIGGER and BETTER every year yet with limited evangelistic results. If you want to reach the people no one else is reaching then you have to do what no one else is doing.
3. Wise energy management.
Because our Fall Fest had gotten bigger and bigger each year, it had become a major volunteer initiative requiring lots of planning, money and work. With fall spiritual growth campaigns, small groups relaunch, and Fall Fest; by the time Christmas rolled around we were spent. Therefore, Christmas was never getting the focus it really deserved. The fact is every church has a limited amount of volunteer energy. As church leaders, it’s critical that we are investing the greatest amount of that energy in the highest return missionally. In other words, don’t just add on another event. You have to learn how to stop doing good things in order to start doing the best things.
4. We were capitalizing on the wrong season.
Pouring out all your money and energy into a Halloween alternative is okay, but we discovered that the unchurched are 100 times more receptive to church-based events during Christmas than any other time of the year! Unchurched people are not nearly as stupid as our politically correct culture tells us. Believe it or not, the unchurched actually know that Christmas has something to do with Jesus and the vast majority of them are not offended to hear about him. In fact, due to the ever-increasing commercialization of Christmas, unchurched families yearn for something more spiritually focused during Christmas time. Every fisherman knows that the right time to fish is when the fish are hungry!
Because of these reasons, we decided to switch to a large Christmas outreach event that would be attractive to unchurched families and the result was OVERWHELMING!
In my next blog, I’ll share the secret sauce to our Christmas outreach!
What are your thoughts?