Five IBSA leaders weighed in on ways churches can capitalize on this season of opportunity:
1. Focus on relationships. “Summer events are good opportunities to invite lost people to your church, but nothing is more effective than a personal invitation,” said Mark Emerson, IBSA’s associate executive director for the Church Resources Team. “There is a church growth principle that says ‘what brought them here keeps them here.’ If you start with relationships, relationships will keep them coming.”
2. Serve your school. Consider how you can help students, teachers, and school administrators by providing school supplies for the upcoming year or for summer school, said Jack Lucas, director of Next Gen Ministries.
3. Don’t forget tried-and-true outreach. “Never discount the value VBS and Backyard Bible Clubs can offer!” said Scott Foshie, an IBSA zone consultant and pastor of Steeleville Baptist Church. “These remain one of our church’s most effective methods of community outreach.” Foshie advised keeping a “family night” program simple and gospel-focused, with an inviting, relaxed atmosphere. “Backyard Bible Clubs can have an advantage by taking VBS into the neighborhoods of your community, and have the potential of reaching even more unchurched kids and families than VBS at your church,” he said.
4. Show gratitude. “We have made nice fruit baskets and taken them to the local police department, fire department, city hall, and other local businesses,” said Brian McWethy, IBSA zone consultant and pastor of Grace Fellowship Amboy. “We thank them for all they do in our community and then we ask them how we can pray for them.” Then, he said, they pray right away.
5. Look around. “You don’t have to be amazingly creative people to pull off an outreach,” said Rayden Hollis, pastor of Red Hill Church in Edwardsville. “Just watch what’s happening in your city and see if there is something simple you can do that would make a difference.” His church provides simple hand-held fans at their town’s annual Route 66 festival. “Everybody was so thankful because it was hot, and it was a simple thing that we could do.”