Several people saw pictures of some of the Deaf Ministry events that the church hosted back over the years. Many of them asked how we were able to pull so many people to come. Other questions such as: Which food preferences was more popular? How did you publicize the event? What was the outline of the program? What worked and what didn’t work? What did you do with the kids who came with their parents?
I am hoping in this post, I will be able to answer some of those questions. First of all, you must have a team of at least 5 of more people. Doing it alone is a NO-NO. I would never encourage doing things alone because it causes stress on yourself, your family, your time, etc. I have found it more efficient if you have a team of committed people. People to help come set up, people to help clean up. People to help do parts of the program, people to help prepare the food, serve the food, and people to do the spreading of the news for the event.
(1) What foods were popular? What was the deaf community’s preferences?
I have to say CHICKEN was the number one. We had Chik-fila, Zaxbys, KY Fried Chicken mostly. The most popular and cheapest was Chik-fila. This is also popular with the kids who come to the event with their parents. Any place the provides chicken nuggets or chicken strips was best. We also had hotdogs, hamburgers, pizza, ham/turkey meat trays, BBQ pork & chicken, and crockpots of chili. When serving a meat, to make sure you had enough for everyone ONCE, I encourage to have one or two people SERVING the meat to make sure everyone gets a share. Many places provided catering and sometimes the church has an ongoing business relationship with the restaurant for discounts. Check with your church to make sure when you check around into prices.
(2) How did you publicize the event to the Deaf community?
Flyers were made, printed out, copied and handed out at Deaf events. Before the church social event, we had two other big events that would open opportunites to invite people. We also used email. One of the Deaf men in our group had access to all of the emails because he was also the host for another big deaf outreach event, Deaf Coffee Chat. I encourage you to get everyone’s email address when they attend your event to make sure they are informed of future outreach events. We also use Facebook too but that isn’t always the best thing. The top methods that I find effective are flyer handouts at Deaf events and emails mostly.
(3) What was the outline of the outreach event’s program?
There are many ways to have your program. Movie Nights, Game Nights, Fellowship Nights, etc. Those require very little preparation as all you need to do is do announcements, prayer, and then turn the movie on. Same for Game Nights and Fellowship Nights. The most effective and influential programs involve worship, drama, and devotional message. In my 13 years of ministry, I have seen people impacted MORE by a “worship-style” outreach event than a Movie Night. We usually allow 3 1/2 hours for the event. Below is the outline:
- 6pm = Fellowship / Food preparation as people come in
- 6:30 = Open Prayer for Food and begin eating
- 7:45 = Break time to prepare for Worship
- 8pm = Worship starts
- 9pm = Worship ends / Cleanup
- 9:30 = Everyone leaves
Worship includes: Opening Prayer, One Biblical Drama or Modern Day Drama, 2 or 3 worship songs, and a devotional message. Its important to PRACTICE your dramas, and your music BEFORE the event. I also encourage people to pick guest speakers that are Deaf or know American Sign Language. The reason for this is because it is a true fact, Deaf people reach and communicate BEST to Deaf people. In my years of seeing outreach event, I have only seen 4 times where a hearing speaker with an interpreter spoke at a Deaf outreach event. Afterwards, the feedback was not so great. While I know people will have their own opinions about this, many Deaf leaders will say the same thing. We have to keep in mind, this is a DEAF outreach event used to draw DEAF people to Jesus. So therefore, outreach events are best kept with the focus on DEAF, to use DEAF people to the best that they can.
(4) What worked and what didn’t work?
At any of the outreach events that we hosted, Worship-style socials work the best. Now, this goes without saying that you need to have a team. Obviously you cannot have a worship-style social with 1 or 2 people. Thats why I encourage teams of 5 or more for any outreach event. This is best for everyone involved AND the community that comes to your event. Like I said before, I have seen more people impacted by these kinds of socials than a Movie or Game Night. Also, socials that hosted CHILI-contests or Dessert-contests worked as well. Having people bring their best crockpot of chili to share was a great way to save money on providing the meat. We also had a prize for the 1st place winner. The people at the social event did the voting.
What didn’t work? Obviously, you want to provide the best for the people that comes. I hadn’t experienced anything much that didn’t work, because almsot every event was a worship-style social event. Once or twice a year, we did a MOVIE Night which gave the team a couple of months off from doing anything. This is encouraged. Games Night didnt pull too many people, so i guess it depends on your focus group. Usually senior citizens are into games, very little do the younger folks take it up.
(5) What do we do with the kids that come with their parents?
We had a program focused on the kids too. We would have a movie for them, and a devotional time with them as well. They would have their own foods sometimes or usually the kids would go in line to get their foods first before the adults did. We always try to keep the kids apart from the parents so that the parents can focus on the message and the program. This turned out well because we were usually across the hall and had 2 or 3 people focusing on the kids. If there isn’t alot of kids, then you can always go in the back of the room and do coloring, drawing, or games with the kids to keep them busy.
(6) How often should we have Deaf outreach events?
here in Louisville, we have them once a month, on the third friday. There are four churches that we rotate the event with. This is encouraged because it does several things. One, it shows the community that the churches are working together rather than competing with each other. Two, it helps expose that church to the community of what they provide for the Deaf. There may be deaf people living in your area that don’t know about your Deaf ministry. This helps that exposure. And lastly, it creates fairness between all of the Deaf ministry. One church cannot do all of the witnessing and sharing of Jesus. In the eyes of man, we see different teams and different churches, but in the eyes of God…He sees ONE team and ONE church.
I pray this was helpful to most of the people who were asking about these. May God bless you and your work always!