FIRST-PERSON: Church fall festival tips
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--Church members are decorating with shades of orange and brown and meeting to finalize plans for fall festivals. It is important to plan for the event but it is just as important to plan for follow-up.
The ABCs of special evangelistic events is a good way to gauge your planning.
-- The "A" is to draw attention to your event. One way of doing this is through signs and flyers you place throughout town. Some churches use signs placed in church members' yards to advertise. Other churches place flyers in businesses. The church may decide to deliver or to mail handouts to their neighborhoods.
Make sure you utilize your decorations to draw attention to your event. For instance, a tent or a large, temporary sign causes passersby to become curious about what you are doing. Place these where they are most visible.
-- The "B" stands for bridge building. How are you going to connect with your guests as they attend your event? The greatest benefit to holding fall festivals is the ability to create a large prospect list by registering all your guests. How can you do this? Make registering a necessity to participate. All guests need an armband to participate in your games or all guests must receive a ticket to exchange for food.
When registering guests, don't forget to ask for their e-mail addresses. That way you can send out a mass "thank you" for attending your event and for future communication to let them know about other events. The obvious thing to do is to spend time getting to know the families who attend your event. A team of greeters who are easily identifiable is vital to being the best host you can be.
-- The "C" stands for communicate the Gospel. There are various ways to share the Gospel depending on your type of event. One way to share the message is through tracts designed for the theme of your event. Your local LifeWay store can show you various options concerning tracts for your event. Another way is though sharing testimonies or a creative form of evangelism such as an illusionist, artist or ventriloquist.
The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE) has a list of evangelists who would love to help with your event. Please remember this is how these men and women make their living and they should be compensated appropriately.
Your planning for the "event after the event" is just as important as the event itself. Follow-up is sometimes the weakest area of planning. You should provide training for a team of church members whose assignment is to organize multiple ways to express your thanks to those who attended your event. The team can organize a prayer ministry to discover prayer needs of your guests. This creates an ongoing ministry that may give you the opportunity to share the Gospel.
The team can establish groups to deliver a gift from your church or to provide an invitation to or information about your church. Be creative in your approach but also be quick. Don't let the names of prospects sit around and get lost in a stack of papers never to receive follow-up.
Are fall festivals work? Yes! However, by working smart, you connect with a few families who are looking for a church home and you provide opportunities for your guests to hear the Gospel.
To receive information about training your volunteers or tips for planning your fall festival, contact your state convention's evangelism staff. Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention's evangelism & church growth team.