After a year of being locked up, people are ready to reconnect. This pandemic has raised questions and caused people who were far from God to want to come to church. 

Ask a neighbor or friend, “Do you do church?”, and you’ll probably hear something like, “No, but I’ve been wanting to come to church sometime!” 

Translation: “Give me a reason to come to your church, and I’ll be there!”

What if this summer, your church flung open the doors for your community to show them that God is real, that Jesus is what they’re looking for, and that your church is awesome?

Here are 8 ideas to give people a really good excuse to find their way into your church this summer:

1. Drive-Thru Free Car Wash: Pick a Saturday morning, promote it on Facebook, station volunteers on nearby street corners holding signs, and invite your community to stop by your church for a free drive-thru car wash. Invite people to stay in their cars and drive from station to station as the outside of their car gets cleaned. At station one, their car gets sprayed. At station two, their car gets soaped up by volunteers. At station three, their car gets rinsed. At station four, their car gets dried. On their way out, have volunteers hold handheld signs and handout invite cards to come back the next day for church!

2. Mental Health Seminars (Hybrid idea!): Mental health is hugely important right now, and people know it! Invite your community to a COVID-safe “Overcoming Anxiety Seminar” or a series or mental health seminars. Put out social media ads, set up a COVID-safe space, provide a Zoom link for those who can’t join you in-person, and plan a 90-minute seminar to help people deal with a specific mental health issue. Consider showing a video of a Christian author/speaker like Max Lucado. Have a Christian counselor in your church speak for a minute or two, so people know who they can talk to, if they need more direct support. Seat people at tables, where they can have a discussion. Offer prayer partners to pray for them. And, invite them back for a small-group series or weekend series.

3. WOW Weekend: Pick a weekend this summer, and choose a high-profile speaker or author to come share his/her story during your church services. If they are a speaker, allow them to speak. Or, to direct the conversation yourself, turn the sermon portion of your weekend service into an interview between the pastor and the guest speaker. Then, leverage this conversation as an opportunity to present the gospel at the end. Piggyback on the event by having a party for the kids during children’s ministry! Send out postcard mailersrun social media ads, and give your church invite cards or door hangers to bring to their friends. This is a powerful way to attract the community and a natural opportunity to share the gospel.

4. Frontline Worker Thank You Gifts (Remote idea!): Grab some volunteers and put together high-quality thank-you gift bags for firefighters, law enforcement, nurses, doctors, teachers, and other frontline workers in your community. Attach invite cards or postcards to invite them to in-person or online services. Encourage people in your church to pick up gift bags on Sunday to bring to their first responder friends during the week. Also, send volunteers out to nearby fire stations, hospitals, urgent care clinics, and police stations to drop off gift bags for local frontline workers.

5. Drive-Thru Food Pantry: Meet physical needs in your community by providing a drive-through food pantry. Gather donated food for a few weeks. Then, pick a Saturday morning or (our favorite) a Saturday afternoon just before church, and put together bags filled with donated food. Promote your drive-through food pantry on social media, your website, and with invite cards throughout the community. As cars drive through your parking lot, pair up masked volunteers – one volunteer to hand out food and one with a handheld sign to offer to pray for people. As volunteers interact with cars, have them invite people to stick around for your Saturday evening service or to come back Sunday!

6. Text Your Neighbor Campaign (Remote idea!): Launch a “Text Your Neighbor” campaign in your church. Announce it during your weekend service. Set up a Facebook group to gather participants, communicate with them, and hear impact stories. Schedule one or two weeks during the summer for your church to make grass-roots connections with your community. Have everyone in your church text one to three un-churched people they know to ask, “How are you doing? How can I be praying for you?” Through text conversations, your church can open up opportunities to minister to their neighbors and friends and invite them to church. For even more impact, schedule your “Text Your Neighbor” campaign leading up to a major event, so people can specifically invite their friends to that.

7. Farmer’s Market Booth: Reserve a booth at your local farmer’s market, and show up as the life of the party! Bring musicians from your worship band to play playful songs, have volunteers making bubbles with bubble guns, and pass out candy with stickers attached that include your church’s social media information. Have volunteer prayer partners wear “Need prayer?” shirts, and make sure everyone is equipped with invite cards or postcards to encourage people to join you on Sunday!

8. Host Your Community: Offer up your parking lot or building to host a local blood drive, bookmobile, summertime community event, drive-through COVID testing site, or vaccine site. Every time people from your community come onto your campus, they are softening their perception of what church means and deciding how central you are to the community. Your parking lot and building were provided by God as a means of bringing lost people to salvation, and what better way is there to do this than to bring people in, then invite them back to hear the Good News during a weekend service?! Just make sure you have friendly faces ready to hand out invite cards to community members. Remember, they’re asking for a reason to come to your church!

God’s been brewing something big for a year now, and this summer is an open door for people in your community to come and find the forgiveness, freedom, and community they’ve been longing for. This summer could be their turning point from seeking to being saved. All they need is an invitation and some open doors, and their lives could be changed forever because of summer 2021!