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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

Improving Church Outreaches: An Easy Practice that Makes a Huge Difference

Updated: May 1, 2023

I once heard John C. Maxwell tell a story of a man who was angry at being passed over for a promotion.  “They can’t do that — I have 20 years experience!” he grouched.  “No you don’t!” Maxwell retorted. “You have one year of experience 20 times!”

If you have been in church work for long, you know: Repetition doesn’t mean improvement.  You can do something 20 times and not really be any better at it on the 20th than you were last time.  Is there a way to change that?  Is there a way to make sure you always improve, and next year really is BETTER than last?

Yes!  Follow these steps and your Christmas and Easter outreaches will improve year-over-year!

There’s only one thing you need to do, and do it early, while it’s still fresh:  Get people together… make lists.  

Done right, this is REALLY FUN.  I have a blast with it every year.

I’ve heard it called in the business world AAR’s (After Action Reports).  I’ve heard it called “doing a post-mortem.”  (Hope your Christmas service wasn’t that bad!)  

Whatever you call it, here’s HOW you do it:

Sit down with 3-4 key players in your outreach.

Get the main people who were involved in the event, and add in a couple who just attended.  Do this while it’s still fresh.  In fact, I love to do it the same evening, during cleanup.  If that’s not possible, just try to make sure it’s within 48 hours.

Ask 3 questions:

  1. What went right this year?

  2. What went wrong this year?

  3. What was missing/What can we improve?

Write down all your notes on your church outreaches:

I'd say preferably in a document or in Evernote. If you have been in church work for long, you know:

Repetition doesn’t mean improvement in your church outreaches.

Here’s what this will do for you:

1. You won’t forget great ideas, or repeat past mistakes.

No one will be sitting around saying “What was that one great idea we all mentioned last year?”

This is one of the biggest ways that our church improved one of our key church outreaches: The Gospel Trunk or Treat.

2. You’ll be ahead of the game in preparation.

This is huge.  Take that list, turn it into a checklist in Evernote, and you’ll be way ahead next year when the time comes.  I literally just did this an hour ago with a checklist from our last year’s outreach event.  And I’m ahead of where I was last year — automatically.

3. It will let your brain release the stress of holding those details.

Your brain functions like RAM on a computer.  If it holds too much, it slows you down, decreases your willpower, and increases your stress level.  Dump the details into a document or Evernote, and move on.  They’ll still be there when you need them, and your brain will be free.

4. It will help you give things away to more volunteers next year.

One of the biggest challenges for leaders trying to get more volunteers: They keep all their lists in their HEAD!  You can’t give it away without sharing your prefrontal cortex with your volunteers.  If you go ahead and add it to your Google calendar now, you're ahead of the game.

5. It will make your organization a growing & learning one.

This is a fantastic practice for making sure that you keep GROWING.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!

How about you?  Have you ever done this?  Let me know in the comments below!

If you're looking for ways to improve your church outreaches, you might consider doing a one-day retreat for strategic planning for churches.

P.S. If you found this helpful, would you help me?  Share this post on Facebook or Twitter, or email it to a pastor friend! Thanks in advance!

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