These are instructions on how to make the most of the 2022 Outreach Planning Calendar which you can download here. (Or Canadian version here.)
For the complete article about how to make the most of your church's outreach activities in 2022, read it here.
This calendar has been designed as a help and as a guide. Not as something set in stone. Adjust and restructure as needed, but use this as a solid starting base.
The objective behind this Outreach Planning Calendar (and using it most efficiently) is simple:
- To encourage your church to reach out to your community in small practical ways to connect with individuals and share the Gospel.
- To help your church maximize your effectiveness while minimizing volunteer burnout and staff stress.
Call them whatever you'd like, but for the purpose of this, an outreach team is a team of 2 to 5 individuals who take ownership, plan, prepare, and execute an outreach activity. This may be a couple or family who would like to plan and organize a few outreach opportunities each year, or it may be a few individuals all working as a team. Most likely, most people on your outreach teams are not on staff.
Recommendations for Outreach Teams / Planning:
- One at a time: Each outreach team should be involved in, plan, prepare and execute only one activity (or one set of related activities) at a time. Remember, they're volunteering their time for this and likely have other jobs and obligations as well.
- Planning: Outreach teams should begin brainstorming and planning each outreach opportunity 6 to 8 weeks ahead of time.
- Involve Others: It's great for outreach teams to involve others in the church who can be part of the opportunity in a smaller way - perhaps helping with providing candy for a Halloween outreach, or simply participating in the outreach opportunity the day of - requiring very little time commitment beforehand.
- Recruit: Outreach teams should determine how many additional volunteers they need and begin personally inviting other individuals to help out 3 to 5 weeks before the opportunity.
- Multiple Teams: Form anywhere from one to four outreach teams. If you're a smaller church, then maybe this means having only two or three families who each make up an outreach team. Use the number of outreach teams you have to determine how many outreach opportunities during the year your church will commit to.
- Outreach Coordinator: If you have more than two outreach teams, assign a staff member or a family to be the point person for all outreach teams, liaising between outreach teams and helping to keep everyone organized and focused on their team's activities.
On the calendar, we've color coded the planning, recruitment and associated holiday by team. Red Team, Green Team, Blue Team, and Purple Team (US only).
It's worth noting that this calendar is made with three teams in mind. Purple Team is only assigned to Christmas outreach opportunities. This does not mean you require a fourth team just for Christmas. But, understand that there are many outreach opportunities near the end of the year which have some overlap. If you are operating with only two or three teams, then you should exclude whichever opportunities are least important to your church.
Key Notes / Instructions for Calendar
- Small and Simple: Use this calendar as a guide for planning simple outreach opportunities to reach out to your local community. This is not intended for planning special services or big productions. Think "Christmas Carolling" rather than "Christmas Production".
- Natural Opportunities: Many holidays, observances and other key days provide natural opportunities to do something to bless the community or to reach out to individuals. Think putting together back-to-school backpacks for children of low income families rather than hosting a special service or event.
- Planning: On the calendar, "planning" refers to a good timeframe for that specific outreach team to begin praying about, brainstorming and planning the outreach activity.
- Recruiting: On the calendar, "recruiting" refers to a good timeframe for the 2 to 5 individuals on the outreach team to begin personally inviting other individuals within the church to help out with the activity they are planning.
- Manageable: Most outreach activities should be manageable enough for the outreach teams to recruit enough volunteers and resources through personal connection.
Presenting to the Church
Announcing every outreach opportunity and key date on this calendar to the entire church or in a church service is strongly discouraged, as doing so would wear out and overwhelm your people.
It's important for outreach teams to understand that the majority of their recruitment of resources and volunteers should be done through personal invitation and communication. Also, helping outreach teams to understand this ahead of time will prevent hurt feelings when some of their outreach opportunities are not presented from the pulpit.
We recommend reserving any time announcing something to the entire church or in a church service to only the largest outreach opportunities (the ones requiring the most resources or volunteers).
We also recommend announcing no more than one outreach opportunity per month.
However, we do recommend sharing about outreach opportunities and their outcomes after the fact as much as possible. Use these moments as opportunities to celebrate what members of the church are doing to reach out to the community and encourage all members to be more intentional about reaching out in their own ways. It's a great reminder to all members that an opportunity to reach out to the community does not have to be approved by or run by the church staff - but instead, each member is the church. And when they are reaching out to their community in whichever way they've been inspired to, they are the hands and feet of Jesus.