Learn how to build awareness and serve your community during the summer months to connect with people and make a positive impact. Join us in creating meaningful outreach efforts in your church.

Building awareness of your church by serving your community.

In the small towns around the Indianapolis area, summer is the best. It’s quintessential small-town midwest where it feels like there’s a festival of some sort about every weekend. And the typical feature of the summer is the 4th of July celebration with a parade that includes everything from the vintage tractor club, to the Little League Champs to county fair queen winner and anything else you can think of ... quite literally. The parade is way longer than it needs to be, but it’s something that seems like everybody shows up for and is just good, wholesome fun.

One thing we’ve noticed is that some churches jump in to being a part of these parades and really focus on serving during the summer. They coordinate with local municipalities and organizations to identify impactful opportunities to make a difference in the community. They use the parade and other festivals during the summer to connect with the community and recruit the community to partner with them in these service days. This is a great way to connect people to the church through a serving opportunity.

It’s a model and strategy that we think is really smart for both “brand awareness” for the church, but also for making a meaningful difference in the community with the community.

We know that summer brings unique dynamics within the church, because it’s when people are taking vacations, running kids to sports camps and spending the weekend at the lake. It’s a time when people want to be active, outdoors and spending time with friends and family. 

These are all great things, but the challenge for ministry leaders is that, often, people in the congregation may be less willing to commit to additional things at the church, so it becomes a season that church leaders avoid planning key, strategic initiatives (unless you’re in student ministry!).

If this is how your church plans the calendar year, we would encourage you to reconsider how you approach summer!

Build Awareness

Summer is awesome, because people are active again. They’re going to the local farmer’s markets, the community pool, the local parks and the various festivals. It’s a time when communities come alive. 

We think the most unique opportunity to make a meaningful impression on those who may never come to your church (or any church) is to go to the places where they are and represent the love of Jesus in practical, generous and “non-pushy” ways. For example, get a booth at the festival or farmer’s market and simply give away coffee or water bottles or do free face painting for kids. 

As you engage the community and show up where they are, you can begin to bring awareness of your church and more importantly, the people of your church in a way that helps establish a positive perception of your church.

Why is this important? Beyond the obvious reality that generally having a positive perception matters, it’s a way to begin to crack open doors in the community that might lead to a person taking a next step toward connecting with your church and more importantly, with Jesus.

If you’re making positive relational deposits in the community all summer long, the invitations to come to church during fall launch or when your people invite their neighbors to Christmas services becomes something that may be a little more intriguing to a person who isn’t connected to a faith community.

What are the community specific festivals and events that your church could be part of? How can you participate in a way that meets simple, practical needs?

Community Collaboration

We think one of the biggest opportunities is to release resources - both human capital and financial - to make a difference in your community. There are countless people who could use some help fixing up houses, elderly people who would love help maintaining their lawn or garden and parks that cities would gladly let volunteers provide manpower to clean up.

One thing we have seen work really well is to plan workdays that mobilize your congregation and pull in the community to make it happen. Partnering with local municipalities is a really strategic way to make the most impact while also bringing visibility to the work that’s happening.

The best approach is to talk to community leaders first and be curious. Ask where the greatest needs in the community are, who the most vulnerable people are or what the next big community initiative is that needs support. Start here and plan in collaboration with the community.

Churches are great at planning, organizing and mobilizing people. They often have resources that can be allocated to initiatives like this and churches are full of people who want to make a difference with their resources and time.

Where do your community’s needs and your church’s passions, skills and resources overlap? How can you plan strategic serving opportunities during the summer months to make a meaningful difference in your community?

Activate Your Congregation

At Fishhook, we are also acutely aware of the need for healthy rhythms of rest. It requires a ton emotionally, relationally and spiritually, and in many ministry areas, summer is an opportunity to breathe a little bit.

Many churches bring in guest speakers, we call the sermon series “Summer at ____ Church” so we can literally preach about whatever we want week to week and we have simpler worship sets because the worship team volunteers are at the lake for the weekend … every weekend.

These are all great things, and simplifying programming is never a bad thing to give your leaders a little more margin, but how can this season continue creating momentum in ways that are outside the box of the typical ministry cycle?

We think the secret is in this idea of activation. We wrote a blog about activation a while back that unpacks this as a ministry philosophy a little more in depth. The basic idea is that the primary role of ministry leaders is to equip and mobilize people to do ministry in every sphere of life they find themselves in. Your role is to elevate others, be a cheerleader and provide the support and encouragement they need to accomplish what God has called them to do.

Thinking about summer, this is a perfect opportunity to empower and release the people you’ve been equipping (discipling) to serve the community. 

Who do you know that loves to do lawn care or construction? Who do you know that’s a natural leader? Who is the person that’s a gifted administrator that can organize and plan? Begin to build a team of lay leaders that possess these qualities and see how God uses their unique talents and passions to love your community.

We are increasingly convinced that the most effective evangelism at a church doesn’t happen on Sunday mornings but through the people who embody Jesus’ love outside of the church walls.

Who are the people you could empower to plan and lead community outreach efforts during the summer?


We think one of the more effective ways to reach the community is to invite them to collaborate with you. We touched on this earlier about collaborating with municipalities and community leaders, but we think even more impactful are personal invitations to neighbors, coworkers and friends. 

It’s really hard to invite people to church. Culturally, we know it’s just not a well-received invitation, but we wonder if people might say yes to an invitation to make a difference in the community. We think this could be a strategy that makes it easier for your congregation to invite their neighbors and friends to a “church function,” and it may be a lower barrier to entry for these people.

We believe most people are drawn to the spiritual community because they encounter Jesus’ love in Jesus’ people first. As unchurched neighbors serve alongside believers, we wonder if the ask to come to church may just get a little easier.

So, What about Communication?

Oh yeah, we’re supposed to be talking about communications here! 

As you plan these initiatives (and any other), it’s really important to talk about them in ways that connect with your mission and vision and to think through your “brand experience” in the community. This may be one of the most important dynamics as you want people who don’t know your church to have a positive experience when rubbing shoulders with your people.

During the planning and preparation, be sure to cast vision for this with those who will be involved, think through details well and do everything with excellence so it leaves a positive impact on your community.

Mine for stories. Where are you seeing life-change? Where did you see new leaders emerge? How did you see God do something unexpected? Stories are the best way to cast vision and articulate where you’re seeing this vision come to life. Tell these stories on Sunday mornings, share them on social media and write blogs that highlight them. 

Are you planning any summer outreach efforts? We’d love to hear what you’re planning!

If you want to connect with us to brainstorm or plan something along these lines, we’d love to talk!