Community Outreach Essential to Launch New Worship Site


Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas, recently launched a new worship service at a second campus in southeast Wichita that became part of our church through a merger. The worship launch team came up with a four-phase plan to connect with the new community. While these were done to launch a new worship site, they may offer ideas for ways your church might engage your larger community.

Prayer Walk

We knocked on doors and 99.9 percent of the people were gracious and hospitable. It was literally a transforming event. People were asking for prayers, saying “I’ve been waiting for you.” We ended up with a stack of cards with names of approximately 200 people with whom we could follow up.

Community Block Party

This was simply an opportunity to bring the southeast community together. We collected names by having people register for give-aways.

Gas Buy-Down

We partnered with a local convenience store to give people $20 worth of gas for free. This was when gas was $4 per gallon. We had cars wrapped all through the neighborhood. I took advantage of the opportunity to talk to people as they waited in line.

Open House

After the launch Sunday, we did an open house with invitations to every executive director of every non-profit in town and to the Chamber of Commerce. We had a room filled with community leaders.

In the six months leading up to the launch, we did direct mail and radio advertising, but also had a personal presence, including going door-to-door. We met with editorial boards to introduce “Saint Mark Southeast” so they could come to know the church’s unique story. The Saturday before the launch we were on the front page of the Wichita Eagle. You can’t buy that kind of advertising, but it doesn’t happen by accident.

The goal was to have 300 people for the big Launch Sunday service, and we had 399. Regular attendance started at about 160, climbed to 220 in a few months, and is now close to 300. Saint Mark now has a 9 a.m. service at our main campus and an 11 a.m. service at the new southeast campus. The two campuses average close to 1,200 in worship.

This article is adapted from an article originally published in the November 2015 edition of The Missouri Methodists and is used by permission.

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About Author

Photo of Junius Dotson

Prior to his untimely death in 2021, Junius Dotson served as General Secretary of Discipleship Resources, the general agency of The United Methodist Church responsible for resourcing, training, and supporting spiritual formation, new church development, and revitalization of local churches. Previously, he served as senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas.

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Reach New Disciples with “Taking Church to the Community”

Explore strategies your congregation can use to reach beyond its walls with worship, community events, ministries, and service. The Taking Church to the Community Tool Kit features engaging videos, presentations, and supplemental materials and is designed for both self study and for use with groups in your church. Learn more and watch introductory videos now.