Outdoor Movie Night - A Family-focused Outreach by Christ Community Church
Outdoor Movie Night, a Family-friendly Outreach
Churches around the NACPF have utilized a variety of outreach efforts and approaches. Recently, Christ Community Church (Wilson, NC) hosted an outdoor movie night, with the purpose of serving the community and connect with neighbors who are without a healthy local church. Pastor Jonathan Brooks shared with us the great impact the CCC made through this evangelistic and family-focused event. CCC chose to host Outdoor Movie Night because it was a unique event in the community. This was a first of its kind in the community of Wilson and the members of CCC considered this to be an excellent event that they could really “own.”
From the beginning, they knew communicating intentionality to their members would be really important; and it was. It proved important to be clear that this event was meant to be about more than just showing a movie. Pastor Jonathan Brooks, and others, took time at a member’s meeting to go over very specific goals and intentions for the event. Brooks says, “We wanted to communicate the gospel, develop relationships, love our neighbors, and promote our church as an inviting place for the unchurched and under-churched. We consistently communicated these intentions leading up to the event, including on prayer cards we provided for our members.” Here’s a link to the overview they provided to members.
“It’s hard to define the biggest impact,” Brooks said, “so I’ll categorize the biggest impact in a couple of different categories. - For our people, the biggest impact was their excitement leading up to and the night of the event. Almost every member of our church came together to make the event a success. They distributed posters and postcards to their networks. They helped line up equipment rental, set up the website, set up AV equipment the day before, served food, and the list goes on. This created a great opportunity for our entire church to work together around a common goal.” For the community of Wilson, the biggest impact was the way it connected residents with information about the church. A lot of effort went into getting the word out about the event. Posters and 6’ x 3’ banners were positioned around town. The church also handed out 1,000 postcards through various means, including door-to-door in the neighborhood next to the school where CCC meets. Facebook, a custom website for the event (www.wilsonmovienight.com), and a small Google Ads Campaign also helped build awareness and excitement around town. In addition, a press release ran in the local paper. All of these efforts gave residents an opportunity to learn more about the gospel-centered and community-focused personality of Christ Community Church. Brooks said, “The most important parts of the event were intentionality and logistics. In other words, we needed to be sure we knew why we were doing the Outdoor Movie Night and we needed to be sure we had all the details in place for an event like this.” One of the stated objectives was that everyone would hear the gospel and see the church as a warm and welcoming place for the unchurched and under-churched of Wilson. To accomplish that objective, the church developed an evangelistic video to show before the movie. “We wanted the gospel to be clear and people to have a sense of what our church is all about – the good news of Jesus Christ,” Brooks said. The video can be seen here.
In terms of logistics, the church brought the outreach team together to help think through every issue which might be faced on the evening of the event. Some people were assigned as greeters that put information about the church in the hands of every family. Parking attendants were ready, while bathroom and hall monitors were provided for people coming in the school to use the restroom. People with flashlights were also used to provide assistance, along with matching shirts. This helpful and hospitable presence made the night run smoothly and opened many doors for the church to serve those who attended.
Many helpful lessons were taken away from this first-time event. “We learned that planning is important, but we can’t think of everything. We didn’t buy enough food and drinks and had to send people back to the store. We barely made the parking work - it was tight! The line was way too long for the food, so we’ll have separate stations for each food item next time. Not everyone wanted a hot dog, for example, but almost everyone wanted popcorn (we served free sno-cones, popcorn, and hot-dogs). We needed to start prepping the hotdogs and popcorn about 30 minutes earlier. We found out the night before that our anticipated start time wasn’t going to be dark enough, so we had to bump the start back by about 30 minutes,” Brooks recounted. None of these smaller issues posed a significant problem because the church had clearly planned, prayed, and communicated well in advance. “And all of our members worked hard, showed flexibility, kept a smile on their face, and loved the people who came – even when people were coming back through the free food line for the third time.” What more is, the community noticed! Multiple people followed up with the church to express their gratitude and to compliment the church on their kindness and patience.
The family movie blockbuster, Frozen was the featured film. For churches considering a similar movie night outreach, it is suggested to carefully consider copyright arrangements in advance. Licensing is an important aspect of an event like this. A yearly movie license can be purchased through CVLI.com.
Some additional suggestions and tips learned from this event, and passed on to you who may consider holding a similar event were noted by Pastor Brooks: • After watching responses to our Facebook event and website hits we planned for about 300 people, but we ended up having somewhere around 450 attend (in addition to our church members) • Appointing someone to spearhead the technology side of things is really important. We have a gentleman in our church that set up the AV, including surround sound! The sound was incredible – and was a really important aspect of the whole experience. We used our normal sound system to do it. • The outdoor screen can be purchased here. • We created a form on the movie night website for people to give us their email to be informed of future events (http://wilsonmovienight.com/more-information). We had about 60 families sign up for this. • We had a date for the next movie night already planned so that we could announce it at the May 30th event. Our next one is August 15th. • Pay close attention to the Licensing agreement. It limits where you can share the title of the movie you’re showing. For example, it can be included on your website, email list, and mailing list, but not on public advertising. o So, public advertising requires generic postcards, posters, and banners pointing people to the website where the can see the movie title. Our postcard and poster are linked here. o Our splash graphic on www.wilsonmovienight.com was Frozen leading up to the event, but is generic for now until we announce the next movie in a few weeks.
As a network of like-minded church plants, we celebrate with Pastor Brooks over this creative and community-engaging effort for the gospel. Please continue to pray for our church plants and church partners as summer continues to provide many opportunities to announce good news, serve our communities, and fulfill the Great Commission.