This is our 5th year to do EasterFest, and it is one my favorite things that we do! It is the one thing that we ALL do together as a church, with one common goal: to give the people in our community a fun and free day together, and to let them know who we are and how much we love them.
We have EasterFest at a big park right off of our main road in the city. We give away a free lunch to everyone, we have a live band, carnival games and prizes, a petting zoo, face painting, pictures with the Easter bunny, a GIANT egg hunt with 20,000 eggs, a ton of awesome inflateable slides and obstacle courses, a rock climbing wall, and a special toddler area just for babies. And it's all free for people in our community! We have tweaked it over the years, and each year it has gotten bigger and better (except it rained one year, and we were there anyway!).
We have an amazing team of volunteers who work so hard to put this event together. It is a great way for us to serve the families in our city, and for us to connect with them and engage in relationships with them. Our people are rock stars at initiating conversations and loving people.
Promo: before the event
Our media guy does a great job of putting our event out in our community through a variety of venues (throughout the years, we have done posters, radio ads, newspaper ads, Facebook ads, TV, and more!). We give all our people EasterFest T-shirts to wear around town before the event, and it is so cool to hear stories of people wearing their shirts at the gym or the grocery store, or anywhere, and having people walk up to them and say they have been to or heard of EasterFest, and they can't wait to come this year! In addition to shirts this year, we are giving away bracelets.
Out of all the ways to promote this event, we have found that by far the #1 way people hear about EasterFest is by word of mouth. We equip all of our people to invite their friends through social networking and through invite cards. We have done door hangers in the past, and have canvased neighborhoods, which was awesome. When all of our people take ownership of the event, their passion and excitement bubbles over and they eagerly invite people.
Followup: after the event
Two of the most important parts of a great event take place after the event is over. Follow up and evaluation. Since we have done this 4 times, we have tweaked these two things and come up with a great way to do them.
We bring a bunch of "Connection Cards" to the event and get as many people as possible to fill them out and turn them in, to be entered into a prize drawing to win one of 4 Family Night Out cards ($50 Visa Gift cards). Once we get their information, we send everyone a letter thanking them for coming, and letting them know we would LOVE to have them at our church. We make sure to include information about our children's ministry.
One of the reasons we intentionally have the event the day before Easter is to give people an opportunity to attend our Easter Sunday service. Easter Sunday is a common day for people to visit a church. We give them invite cards at EasterFest, letting them know what our Sunday service will be about the next day, and our greeters and hosts are intentionally looking for people to personally invite and make one-on-one connections with, so they know we have a spot for them, and will be looking for them the next day.
A key to a great event is to continually evaluate and look for ways to improve. We also look for things that were a huge hit, so we can keep doing them and keep getting better! We have a staff debriefing session, and we get great input from our volunteers and leaders. We are always looking for ways to make the event better. Our egg hunt has changed and improved a little every year, and the current egg hunt looks nothing like the egg hunt our first year! Something we ask ourselves every year is "What is the goal of this event?" and "Did we accomplish it?" If we ever answer "no" to that question, then we will know that it's time to make changes, or it that it may be time to stop doing the event. But until then, as long as the Lord is leading, we will continue to prayerfully step out in faith and work together to put on an awesome Easter outreach event for our community.
We have a fantastic kids' service on Easter Sunday, and make sure to have plenty of hosts and greeters to welcome any new guests who visit that day.
What does your church do for Easter? What great outreach ideas can you share?