Going Beyond the Heart of an Event
Ministry events require both head and heart. We’ve looked at the heart of doing ministry events (in case you missed it, you find that information here!), which is when a church or nonprofit sees needs in the community and builds events to meet those needs.
The desire to help without the knowledge can create a bleeding heart scenario, where the church depletes resources out of a pure motivation to help. The following are some practical ideas the church can do ministry-oriented events with purpose and intent.
Tip #1: Know YOUR Community
Do you live in a hunting community? Do you live in a city? Do you have 5 colleges within an hour radius and therefore a town of academics? Pay attention and plan accordingly!
In a large, academic town, a fundraiser Fish-A-Thon might not help you raise much money. For starters, you probably don’t have access to a river, or actual fish. Secondly, a majority of people won’t know how to fish. Thirdly, you could perceive this as an “out of the box” event, but in order to do it and do it well you have to be prepared to reach a small subset of your community, and throw big bucks at it to make it a possibility. If it’s a fundraiser, you defeat the purpose of raising funds by spending all of yours to put the event on.
Do you know where a Fish-A-Thon would work? A rural area, preferably close to a water source. Do you know what might work in a large, academic community? A fundraising dinner with an expert. A book drive. An event where professors can cut loose (ahem. Laser Tag. (shameless plug!))
If you don’t know what your community looks like, Google is your friend! Google the local demographics. Ask your staff to describe your city in one or 5 words. Contact your local tourism office and pretend like you’re brand new to the area.
Tip #2: Dare to be Different — and Smart!
If something hasn’t been done in your town yet, go ahead and be the first! Host an all night laser tag tournament as a fundraiser. Break a world record. Go crazy & have fun – but keep in mind that your event is being backed by your church. You don’t want your church to look disconnected from the very people you are trying to help.
A plated dinner at $100 a pop can create high dollar proceeds to benefit a soup kitchen but won’t help you feed the poor directly. As we talked about in knowing the heart of your event, the reason for your event can help you avoid these pitfalls.
“I’m a pastor. I’m not creative.” Well, that might be the case. But I’m sure you know people who are. Surround yourself with them. There’s never shame in asking for help. If you as the pastor are building a youth event, consult with the youth at your church and in your community. They’ll quickly let you know that they’ve never seen a Discman and have never heard of the Gaithers but if you ask for their help, they’ll help you build a playlist for an iPod to play at your next community kid’s laser tag lock-in event.
Tip #3: PLAN AHEAD! PLAN AHEAD! PLAN AHEAD!
Does it feel like I’m shouting? Good!
As an event planner who is a Christian, this issue wears me out! Churches work so hard to pursue everything with excellence. The church is cleaned with excellence, the busy carpet has been chosen in a spirit of excellence. Why not your ministry events?
An Easter Egg hunt is a little more than just throwing eggs into the field behind your church, and then expecting a massive turnout. Your event will only be as good as the details you work out. Here are some suggestions to plan for:
- If you want 1-500 people on your property, plan your event 6 months in advance.
- If you want 500-1000 people on your property, plan your event 1 year in advance.
- Check your church’s liability and insurance policy. You do NOT want bad publicity for someone getting hurt on your property.
- Check to see if your town has any special forms for mass gatherings that aren’t on Sunday or Wednesday. Consider zoning issues and “mass assembly” permits.
- Build your budget for the event.
- Build your volunteer list.
- Build your initial supply list. Outdoor lighting options are more affordable in early Spring and Summer and can be purchased for your Fall Festival in late October or November. You don’t want to find out the night before your Fall Festival on church property that it gets dark at 6 pm and no one can see their way around the property, and that there’s no where to find outdoor lights or that they are triple the cost.
- Build a marketing campaign. If you want to benefit the community, be sure to let them know! Spread the word.
This information was delivered to the attendees of the Wildfire Men’s Conference in South Carolina, and in an effort to help churches put their best foot forward we listed it here for you.
As an event planner, I want your church event to reflect the love of Christ to your community, regardless of it involves Laser Tag or not (bonus pearls in Heaven if your event DOES involve Laser Tag. Just kidding.)
We look forward to hearing your ideas and helping build your event in any way we can! –Kristina with Laser Tag Source