5 Key Ingredients for Successful Big Events
For many churches, big events are a critical component of a strategic and comprehensive ministry plan. These large-scale ministry events provide opportunities for exposure, name recognition, community service, relationship building, and outreach. Big events can be a great catalyst for mobilizing leaders, serving needs and establishing a profile in the community. Though these events should never replace the core principle of life-on-life, incarnational ministry, they can certainly be a stimulus towards that end. As we scan through the gospels and observe Jesus’ personal ministry philosophy, we see Jesus strategically utilizing big ministry to fuel his personal discipleship. For example, in feeding the multitudes, he not only met the very real needs of a large group of people but he also capitalized on this opportunity to teach the disciples about faith.
As you consider the role of big events in your ministry strategy, here are five key ingredients that should influence your thinking and planning.
- In The Community
The most successful events are not ‘church-wide’ events but ‘community-wide’ events. They take place in the community. We should not always be asking people to an event, but we should bring the event to the people. The unchurched are much more likely to come to an event in the neighborhood or the city park than in your church building. Putting together a ministry event in a neutral environment immediately breaks down barriers to the gospel and establishes common ground on which to relate.
- For The Community
If your goal is to transform the city and not just your church, then strive to combine church events with community needs. Imagine a movie night or concert in the park that collects supplies for a neighborhood school in need. Or a special Christmas program that collects food for the local soup kitchen. You will be surprised at the reaction from a community who sees the local church engaged with genuine love and concern. The old adage holds true, ‘they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
- By The Community
What if your pool of volunteers to pull off a big event was multiplied in an instant? This literally happens when you expand the volunteer potential beyond the church membership. A partner church in our area sponsored a huge ‘egg drop’ during the Easter season. The logistical needs of such a large event far exceeded the volunteer capacity within the church. When the leaders decided to put up a volunteer sign-up board in the neighborhood they were shocked at the response. Over 90% of the event volunteers, sporting the church t-shirts and all, were from outside the church. This generation loves to serve, so we should give them the opportunity. Serving side by side with our friends in the community will open the door for spiritual conversations in a natural environment.
- Focus On The Lost
I was recently challenged with this question, “If your church grows but the lostness in your city doesn’t change, are you OK with that?” [quote]If your church grows but the lostness in your city doesn’t change, are you OK with that?[/quote] The primary function of big events should be to reach the lost, not to gather believers from other churches. With that in mind, our events should be attractive and relevant to those outside the church. If our leaders and core team don’t invite the lost to the event, interact with the lost during the event, and follow up with the lost after the event, then we have missed the target. We must be careful not to overwhelm our leaders with the logistics of the event in a way that prevents them from having intentional interaction with those who come.
- Have a Follow-up Plan
Big events are not the end but rather a means to an end. Macro events should fuel micro ministry. [quote]Macro events should fuel micro ministry.[/quote] Every big event should include an invitation to a smaller event. Like a funnel with a large mouth that narrows, big events gather large crowds that must be narrowed to a smaller pool of personal relationships. An effective follow up plan will help do just that. The two major areas to consider are gathering contact information and creating opportunities for further connection. For example, you could plan a giveaway at the big event that requires a personal contact card to participate. This information can then be used for an email blast that thanks them for their participation and invites them to a church service. The success of a big event should never be measured by the event itself, but by the follow up that takes place afterward.
May God give us much creativity and energy as we serve our communities through church events. And may these events be used to expand his kingdom by drawing many into a personal relationship with Jesus.