Outreach during Back-to-School Season
Summer has flown by and we’re already nearing back-to-school season. I’m always amazed at how quickly this time of year sneaks up on us! It’s like time gets cranked to warp speed during the summer and then slowed way down in the fall.
In just a couple of weeks, kids will be back in class. Let the parents say, “Amen!” If you’ve got kids, you’re likely already looking ahead to figure out what supplies they’ll need for classes. Wal-Mart and Target have already set up back-to-school sections in their stores, and children are already beginning to ask for that new outfit they want to wear on their first day. Retailers have figured out that back-to-school season represents a major opportunity to make money. They spend big marketing dollars to attract potential shoppers into their stores.
As church a leader, have you discovered that back-to-school season also represents a major opportunity for outreach in your community? In just a few weeks, a massive segment of your audience (pre-k through college!) will be headed to class. This phenomenon represents an area where your church can focus: new students in town (especially if there is a college nearby) that your church can reach, teachers whom your church can serve and bless, and opportunities to equip the youth in your church to be on mission as they head back to class.
How are you going to use back-to-school season to get your church on mission? Let me offer up a few ideas…
- Send a team from your church on freshmen move-in day to help students get settled into their dorms. You’ll need permission from the college, but most schools are excited to have volunteer help. This will give you a great opportunity to connect with new students and invite them to church.
- Set up a table on campus the first day classes are back in session and give away chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn’t love a free cookie?! Attach an inviter card to napkins as you pass out cookies that tells students about your church, where to find you, and how they can learn more. (d2design would love to help you with those cards!)
- Schedule a “Back-to-School Sunday” and give away free thumb drives to all high school and college students who attend. Challenge students in your church to leverage this day to invite friends to church with them. Have a special prayer time for all students.
- Kids’ and youth group leaders can spend the week before school starts talking about what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus on the school campus. Have a time of commissioning, sending students to their schools as missionaries to make Jesus known this school year.
- Host a “Back-to-School Bash.” Do something fun with your kids/youth group the weekend after school starts. Challenge your group to invite someone from school to come.
- Partner with local organizations to provide school supplies for children and families in need. There is likely a local charity in your town organizing a supply drive through which your church can get in on the action. If there isn’t, you can organize your own drive! Contact local schools to get a supply list and challenge every church member to bring one or two items. Or, call every small group in our church to sponsor one or two kids.
These are just a few ways to leverage back-to-school season. We’d love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment below with you how you plan to reach out to students, teachers, and families in August.