How to throw a holiday neighborhood outreach

Andrew Weiseth » Family Home Mission Evangelism

A holiday neighborhood outreach is a great way for Christians to connect with our neighbors. Here is a practical, step-by-step example of one way to do it.

My family and I hosted our first neighborhood outreach Christmas event recently. It was a joy. We had 45 people in attendance. Some were believers and some were not, but relationships were deepened with all. And, most importantly of all, everyone was pointed to Jesus.

The following is a quick outline of what we did and how we did it. This event was the first in a series of three we are hosting this month, but I believe this model also works well as a one-time event. This is by no means the best or only idea out there. We simply hope that it blesses you with an idea and your neighbors with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Step 1: Know your hood

We have lots of kids age 7 and under around us, so we framed the time appropriately.

Step 2: Leverage the time

Invite fellow believers to help leverage the time. Work as a team. This blesses these friends as they are challenged to not merely receive, but engage and evangelize. Invite them to invite the people they hope to minister to.

Step 3: Plan generally

Make sure the invitation gives people an accurate idea of what you will be doing. We simply advertised that we would be doing crafts, a story time, and singing. We were also clear in the invite that we would tell the Christmas story from the Bible.

Step 4: Get invites out

We moved into our neighborhood this past summer and had already obtained many of our neighbors’ email addresses, so we used an online invitation service like Evite or Postmark. We also communicated with our neighbors in person, via Facebook, and by phone.

Make sure the invitation gives people an accurate idea of what you will be doing.

Also, since we have children and this event involves others’ children, we did not send invites to people we did not already feel confident about inviting in.

Step 5: Plan specifically

Sending out invites earlier with a general plan is a higher priority than waiting until you know exactly what you’re doing. Set it up first, and then figure out specifics.

We advertised a craft, so we decided on using pipe cleaners, jingle bells, beads, and paper slips for names. Based on RSVPs, we selected the Brick Bible (Bible stories told via Legos) for the story time the day before the event. For songs, we opted to open the time with “Jingle Bells” so that kids could use their newly-made bracelet instruments to sing along.

Step 6: Make room for last-minute deciders

Driving home from work I parked in the cul-de-sac and knocked on a couple doors to let them know we were having a party and that they were invited. In God’s humorous grace, I mistakenly knocked on the door of a strongly atheist person’s house. Who knows, perhaps God will use that interaction to enable a future connection with them.

Step 7: Make name tags

We had everyone put one name tag on, even though 80% of the room knew each other.

Step 8: Party

Include space for social time and introductions.


Why did we choose to target the time toward the kids? We did so because it’s the most strategic way of getting everyone.

It gets the kids, obviously.

It gets the adults too, but how?

First, it creates a comfort buffer. They hear everything you’re saying, but it’s not directly at them. Second, many of the most hardcore anti-Christian people will still like you if you’re great with their kids. Great coaches, teachers, and mentors have earned this special “in” with the parents.

For steps 9–11, keep them short and sweet. This will leave kids and adults wanting more.

Step 9: Plan strategic craft-making

Assume there will be a parent or two who would rather be helping with the craft than socializing. Have one of your more introverted fellow-believers be there to help as well. It’s a great time for them to converse with the other parents. It may be the most comfortable and receptive time that more reserved people will have for the whole event.

Planning the time around kids is a strategic way of getting everyone.

Step 10: Serve hot chocolate

We purchased some of the cups with lids and stuck straws through them to cut down on spills. Pre-mixed hot chocolate in a crockpot worked nicely.

Step 11: Have story time

Gather the kids close and parents alike and tell the gospel. It’s good news. Don’t apologize for good news. Just don’t “preach” (as they would define it). Joyfully testify.

Step 12: Sing songs

Pick songs that people generally know. Hand out song printed sheets and sing. After “Jingle Bells,” we also sang, “Deck the Halls.” The last time through I challenged the adults to sing louder than the kids—clearly suggesting to the kids that they should be able to win, and had adults sing the lines and the kids sing the Fa-la-la-la-la parts.

Neither of these songs includes rich theology, but it helps open the door for it. We then sang some of the more theologically solid, classic Christian hymns. In between the songs I did quick talks of 30 seconds or so.

Don’t apologize for good news.

These steps could be adapted for outreach during any holiday or season. May God bless and use this in our home and yours. I pray that he reaches the people around us all, through us all.

Merry Christmas!

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