How to Use Your Fall Festival to Reach Families

Many churches use October 31st as an outreach event.  If you're one of them, you're probably asking yourself...

"How can we get unchurched families to attend?"

"How can we reach families with this event?"

"How can we get families who come to return on Sunday?"

These are great questions and it's why you do the event.  But the answers can often be hard to figure out.

Here's are some answers to these questions that will help you reach and keep families through your Fall Festival.

Get the word out in your community.  Families are looking for a safe place for their kids and will come if they know about your event.   Here's some ways you can spread the word.
  • Cast vision to the families in your church that this is a great opportunity to reach families.  Encourage them to invite people to come.  
  • Provide invite cards that they can use to invite friends, family members, co-workers, schoolmates, and neighbors.
  • Provide posters that people can put up at places of business.
  • Do a mail out to your community that advertises the event.
  • Use social media to promote the event and have people in your church promote it to their social media contacts.
  • Advertise on free local outlets such as the news, community channel advertising, etc.
Give families a great experience at the event.  It is vital that families have a great experience.  If they don't, they simply won't come back.  If people are rude to them, if their kids don't get enough candy, or if the festival doesn't match what was doesn't matter how much you follow up.  They won't come back.  The first impression truly is a lasting impression.

Collect families' basic contact information.  You can't follow up without it.  Here's some ways you can collect it.
  • Let them know up front that you are not going to show up on their door step the next week.  People will be hesitant to give you their information if they think you are going to show up at their house unannounced.
  • Have people register for a free gift that they receive right on the spot.  It might be something as simple as a full-size candy bar for their kids.  With all the mini-candy bars being passed out, you'd be surprised how many people will give you their contact info. just to get a large candy bar for their child. 
  • Have a drawing for some large prizes like a bike, family meal certificate to a local restaurant, movie tickets, etc.  Ask people to register for the drawing.
  • Have a grand prize drawing on the following Sunday.  You must be present on Sunday to win.  This prize should be something significant enough that it would bring a family back on Sunday. (example - 4 tickets to Disney World or a major family attraction in your area) 
  • Have a free photo spot with a professional photographer.  Offer to email them the picture. 
Have a table or booth set up with church information, brochures, etc.  Staff it with friendly volunteers who can answer questions.

Provide a family show during the event.  It can include music, puppets, games, and family fun.  Make it a soft touch to give kids and parents a feel of what weekends are like.

Follow up after the event. 
  • Follow up as quickly as possible.  If you follow up within 48 hours, the likelihood of them returning goes up. 
  • Send them an email thanking them for coming.  Include information about weekend services or other upcoming events.  Keep it short and simple.  If they had their picture taken per above, you can attach it to this email.  Here's a sample email.
Dear Parent,

Thank you for being our guest at the Family Fall Festival.  We hope you had a great time.  your church's name is a family made up of people just like you and me, who come together to encourage and support each other on this journey called life.

One of the most exciting and challenging parts of life is being a parent.  At your church's name, we want to help your kids learn more about God and discover the purpose He has for their lives.  We also desire to come alongside parents to provide parenting tools, resources, encouragement and support.

You can get more information about your church's name by visiting our website at your church's website or by calling phone number.  We also invite you to be our guest at any of our weekend services.  We're here for you and your family.

Hope to see you this weekend!

  • Send them a handwritten note.  Include a coupon that they can redeem for a free gift the next time they attend the church.  It might be a drink for the parents and a small toy or t-shirt for the kids. 
  • Invite them to your next big event.  Add them to your mailing list and invite them to your next event.  Even if they don't show up for a church service the next weekend, you may see them return for another event.  Keep planting seeds...God will bring the fruit.
  • Call them.  A short...thank you for coming...if we can be of any service to call is appropriate.  I would encourage you to keep it light and not come across as pushy.
Fall Festival is one of your best opportunities to reach families.  I'm thinking of a family who came to our Fall Festival last year.  It was their first contact with our church.  They came back on the weekend, gave their lives to Christ and are now growing in their faith and serving in the ministry.

What a great opportunity you have this year.  Whether you're hosting a Fall Festival on your church property, participating in a community event off-site, or being a witness in your neighborhood, I'm praying with you for many families to come to Christ.