Church events come in all forms. They might be a regularly scheduled outreach event for teens, a social event such as an annual picnic, special classes or seminars, a special holiday celebration such as a Christmas or Easter pageant, or community service events. These events can create community, help people grow in their faith, and bring people together to serve the needs of the local community. There are many great reasons for hosting an event and some church events consistently draw faithful crowds because they serve a need and are planned and executed well.
Unfortunately, events can also become a habit with no definable outcome. In these cases, reasons churches do events might range from “because we always have” to justifying staff positions.
When trying to decide if an event is right for your church, answer the following 5 questions:
1. Who is the event for?
Is the event to prove you are doing your job or to be visible? Or are you meeting a true need for a specific audience outside of worship? Who are you trying to reach with your event?
Few events should be planned for everyone. Events require a lot of planning and follow-up (if done properly) and a lot of work. Church-wide events should be reserved for special celebrations or purposes.
All other events should be designed with a very specific audience in mind. Use your church database to capture demographic information about who is coming to your church events and talk with your staff about what is working and what is not.
Who exactly do you want to come to the event? Take the time to write out a clear description of who the event is for. Be specific. “All women” is not specific. “All women between the ages of 25-50 who are new to Bible study and are interested in exploring their faith with other newcomers” is better.
It is probably safe to say more women attend church events than men. If you really want to engage men, create an event for men targeted to specific segments. Don’t expect men who are newcomers to automatically feel comfortable attending an event designed for guys who are very active in church and mature in their faith. Even the way you welcome men to church and engage them during worship should be different.
2. What do you expect to get out of the event?
The fallback answer everyone gives is to “create community.” But is your event really creating community? Does the event lead to a deeper relationship with Christ or are people just showing up because they feel obligated to or because it is easy? Take a look around at the next event. Are staff and members really reaching out to someone they don’t know and newbies or are they playing it safe? Is your church growing as a direct result of the events you host or has attendance been flat for some time?
3. What are you asking event participants to do?
Hopefully the answer to this is more than, “show up and have a good time” or “join the church.” Expecting someone to join the church after a single event is probably a little unrealistic. And, even if they do, what will you do to ensure they stay engaged?
What is the next thing you want people to do after an event that will lead to a deeper relationship with your church? Are you equipping them with information and helping them make connections? Are you giving them an opportunity to provide feedback before and after the event?
4. How will you evaluate the event?
Headcount is the equivalent to likes on Facebook. Sure, high headcount feeds the ego but it doesn’t mean you moved anyone down the path of engagement.
Are people still talking about the success of the event after it’s over? Are they sharing positive experiences from the event with their social networks? Did the event encourage people to invite non church members? How many newcomers were at the event? Did more volunteers sign up to help with the next event because they felt this event was worthwhile?
5. Is it worth the cost?
Unfortunately, too many churches expect their staff to donate their time for free at events. Church leaders and members expect staff to put in a full work schedule that often includes night and weekends and unpaid extra time for events. And, let’s face it, they are usually paid a fraction of the average salary at for-profit businesses. People often seek a position with the church because they truly want to serve the Lord. Unfortunately, too many of them become disillusioned when they are expected to sacrifice time-off and time with their family.
A church cannot grow if its staff and volunteers feel overly burdened. They might continue to serve, but do so with less enthusiasm. Or worse, they might vent about their negative work experience with family and friends and discourage more people from coming to church. Staff should be your best ambassadors. Are they? If you want them to encourage more people to come to your church, think carefully before you ask them to sacrifice more time away from their family to plan and run the next event.
Before you plan your next church event, decide if it is right for your church. Need help managing your church event? Our church software includes an effective event management solution that simplifies event planning and promotion. It helps you reserve and track valuable event resources, identify and request volunteer assistance, and equip attendees with online signup & payment options. Contact us.
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