The fall is a great season to think about doing an event to gather your community together.
Here are some important steps to keep in mind as you get ready for this event.
The first thing needed to ensure a great event is that you are asking the right questions to determine what type of event is needed in your context.
Consider: What are other events happening and when are they happening? Is there something unusual and fun that would bring our community together? What is our church doing and will we be able to provide the support needed to undertake an event?
Years ago, my church discovered Trunk or Treat, and the first few years we held the event we had great participation from our town and our church. As the years ensued other organizations started offering the same event, and our numbers waned and people did not get engaged. We stopped doing it on our own and worked with another organization in town and supported them.
It is so vital to find the right people in your church (and community) to help you from the very start of planning through implementation.
The more people you can get involved, the more opportunities you will have to develop others to keep your event going without you having to be involved in every detail. This will give others ownership and allow them more input and feedback into planning and other aspects of the event.
As others step up, you will find that you can release some of the details and others can allow their gifts and talents to shine. You may discover someone helping with your event is very savvy with social media. Find ways to allow them to use their passions to fuel your event and this will enhance how far your event will go.
Be sure to have a strategy to get the word out about your event. Use every means possible: print media (postcards or newspaper announcements, which are often free), church communications (bulletins, newsletters, Facebook page, etc.), social media platforms (community-based pages, Facebook ads, etc.) and word of mouth (encourage your church congregation to tell others about the event and give them a postcard or flyer to share).
In order to make lasting connections for your events, consider planning a future event each time. This will keep the opportunities to forge relationships and have spiritual conversations with those attending.
Follow-up can also engage your church in connections with your events. Recently, after our summer event, I created prayer cards that we gave to each child that received a backpack with school supplies. We took the same prayer card and wrote the first name of each child who came to our event on the card and gave them to our church and asked them to pray for these children by name with the prayer prompts provided.
Prayer is a powerful tool for follow up. I plan to create a bookmark at the beginning of the new year to re-engage the church to keep praying for these kids! The key is finding ways to keep the connection going after your event!
Evaluation is a powerful strategy.
Following your event, it is important to have a time of debrief to make positive changes moving forward and for future events. This should be done with your team. Taking the time to evaluate will keep your event vibrant, relevant and fresh.
Don’t just set aside this feedback, but make sure you find immediate ways to implement these changes in future planning. Be sure to invite those giving the feedback to help make these suggestions come alive.