It is October, which means many churches will be hosting fall carnivals. Most churches hope that these carnivals will result in blessing their community and in sharing the gospel. Event evangelism is not dead, but if it is not done well it might turn out to be a scary failure in your church.
Here are eight keys you need to take if you are to have effective event evangelism:
- Begin by praying for God to bless your event. Regardless of how well it is done, unless the Holy Spirit meets with you, the event will be a failure.
- Clarify the win. What is your goal? Sometimes events fail because there is no clear goal. I was a part of a church one time that wanted to do an outreach event in the fall, but also do a fundraiser. It was difficult to determine if our goal was to sell food and make money or to love on our community. Make sure you clarify the win and that you communicate that clearly with your people.
- Prepare ahead. If you want your event to draw people in and actually hear the gospel, you need to make a plan. What is your goal? How many people do you anticipate? How much will it cost and how much money has been budgeted. Some of our greatest obstacles have been where to park people when the crowd for our fall festival exceeds our normal worship service by five or six times (Hint: if you haven’t planned your fall carnival yet, just skip this year and start planning for next year).
- Advertise well. Professional invitation cards from online companies do not cost very much and elementary schools will often distribute them to their children for you. Facebook ads are also affordable and creating Facebook events and posts are free. Make sure you also utilize your church website. If you have a large event coming up, it should be front and center on your church homepage.
- Have an evangelism plan. Sharing the gospel at an event like a fall carnival is hard, but just because it is hard doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done. If evangelism is your goal, you need to have a plan to present the gospel and asking the guy operating the toddler bounce house to hand out tracts is not a good evangelism plan. Will people be guided toward a table with evangelistic materials and evangelists who will share the gospel personally? Will you have video testimonies or video presentations of the gospel? If you do not intentionally plan for evangelism, evangelism will not happen.
- Follow up. This is hard. For follow up to take place, there has to be some kind of registration filled out by participants. As with so many other things, this takes planning. How will participants register, where will they register, what will you do to encourage them to register? One way to ensure registration is to give some door prizes and to require registration to receive a meal ticket. Once those registrations have been secured, enlist an army of volunteers to call each participant and offer to pray for them and invite them to worship on the following Sunday.
- Prepare to receive your guests. If you invite people to be with you on a particular Sunday, make sure you are ready to receive them. Enlist extra greeters, order donuts, and make extra coffee. The worship service should also be intentional. Use songs that are familiar and preach a message that is evangelistic.
- Evaluate and repeat. Many events can and should be repeated on a yearly basis. By repeating the event and working to always improve it, you create traditions that your community may learn to love and you increase your impact year after year.
A full guide to planning an effective evangelistic event would require many more words than I am allowed and I’m sure that many of you could add to this list. Event evangelism is not dead, it is just not often done well. Seek to love your community and proclaim the name of the Lord through a well-done event and watch your community discover the love that can be found in Christ’s church.