Yes, we know it's early January and that Valentine's Day is over a month away. But, like we mentioned in our Maximizing Your Church’s Impact in 2022 article on January 2, our goal in 2022 is to help your church be effective and minimize stress and burnout for your staff and volunteers.
That said, we're five weeks away from Valentine's Day. Now's the time to start planning an outreach opportunity to avoid the stress of last-minute planning. Don't have any outreach teams in place yet? No problem! Is there a leader or staff member who's passionate about any of these ideas? Is there a family in your church willing to take ownership in a Valentine's Day outreach?
What's an outreach opportunity? Holidays and other common observances create a natural opportunity for our church to do something to serve our church community and local communities. This is called an outreach opportunity.
Without further ado, here are a few ideas that you can use, adjust or build upon to come up with your own outreach opportunity for your church.
- Date Night for Parents: Whether you organize this for families within your church, families outside your church, or both - organizing a date night for busy parents could be a huge blessing to those families and a great way to reach out to families in your community.
- Have a specific time frame (for example 5pm to 9pm)
- Provide free child care
- Give each couple a small gift card to a nice restaurant, a SkipTheDishes or DoorDash gift card, or some other nice treat to encourage either a date night out, or a date night at home.
- Encourage youth and young adults to help organize this and provide the child care.
- If necessary, offer two separate evenings for different families, allowing some families to help with the event one evening while enjoying the event for themselves the other evening.
- Free Hugs: Gather a small (or large) group of volunteers to roam the streets, the malls, or other busy places with shirts or signs that say "free hugs". Valentine's Day can be a hard time for many single people. A holiday that revolves so much around being with "the one" really brings to light the loneliness of those who are single or recently went through a break-up or divorce. Everyone can use a hug!
Be ready to share that you're with a church and showing God's love in a practical way. But, remember, you're there to bless, not to bait and switch.
- Free Chocolates: Similar to the Free Hugs idea above, if you have some generous individuals or a small budget, try handing out free boxes of chocolate to single adults in a busy public place. Imagine how much you can make someone's day and how loved they'll feel! This can also work with roses and flowers.
- Teacher Love: Maybe a little unique for Valentine's Day, but maybe just enough out of the box to raise some eyebrows in a good way. Pick a school in your area that your church may have a connection to. Show up on the morning of Valentine's Day with free coffee for all of the teachers and faculty. Usually Tim Hortons, Starbucks, McDonalds, or a local favorite work best for this. There's a little cost and it'll take some organizing, but it's a great way to bless teachers and show them they are loved.
Depending on the size of the school, this may require some coordination to pre-order so much coffee, or to pickup coffee from multiple locations. You may also need to pre-arrange this with the school's office staff. There are certainly some security considerations, but keep in mind, this is an outreach specifically to the teachers, not to students.
- Dinner Night: Similar to the date night for parents idea, but instead invite all of the parents to share a special dinner together while someone watches their kids. This is an opportunity to provide some entertainment or encouragement in addition to dinner. Recruit some individuals in your church to cook the meal, or hire a catering company.
- Valentine's Cards and Gifts for Seniors: Senior citizens are often forgotten and overlooked. Especially those living in care homes. They can be quite lonely all year, so this is a great idea to do periodically throughout the year, not just Valentine's Day. But, Valentine's Day provides a natural opportunity to prepare some cards with notes of encouragement, Bible verses, or other small gifts / treats to hand out to seniors at care homes or other seniors in your community.
- Valentine's Day Blood Drive: Hold a Blood Drive at your church's building and hand out free chocolates or flowers to anyone who donates blood. It's a great opportunity to do something meaningful while also showing your community that you're there for them. To do this well, be sure to coordinate ahead of time with the Red Cross or another blood collection service, and be sure to promote this on social media and prepare some signs to have out for people to see as they drive by which may encourage them to stop and donate last minute.
Around January 7, 2022 - Start planning, praying about and brainstorming some ideas.
Around January 21, 2022 - Start recruiting any additional volunteers and resources you'll require for whatever outreach opportunity you decide on. We suggest personally inviting individuals and families to be involved rather than blanket announcements or social media posts.
We hope that these ideas will help you and your church find ways to use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to reach out to your community and bless others, showing God's love in a practical way, and getting your people involved.