It seems outreach to guests and potential Sunday School members gets harder and harder in today’s culture. Chili, Cards and Calls has become an annual fall event for Nall Avenue Baptist Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, to make a large number of contacts in a short time.  The premise is simple: challenge Sunday School leaders and members to come eat chili, then choose whether to reach out through postcards or phone calls. Most years, a Pizza, Pens, and Phones variation is held in late winter or early spring.

Here is what the Sunday School leaders do to make it work. Get the leadership on board, then:

  • Promote It. Chili, Cards, and Calls is promoted in the bulletin, church newsletter, and Sunday School departments/classes for three weeks prior to the outreach date. The meal is both a motivation and a reward for coming. Highlight no cooking, no dishes, plus fellowship. Even child care is provided for preschoolers!
  • Make It a Churchwide Event. Each class is asked to have at least two members participate, though many classes have five or more. Hey, it’s a fun evening! Sign-up sheets provide members a way to make a definite commitment and also help cooks know how much chili to prepare. Because it is a church-wide fellowship with Adult class members, it offers encouragement to Preschool, Children, and Youth teachers who may feel isolated.
  • Prepare for It. Names, addresses, and telephone numbers for members and prospects are available by class, plus a generous supply of postcards. (Your church can make its own postcards on 8 ½ x 11” cardstock, cut into quarters.) Volunteers are enlisted to make chili or bring basic chili accompaniments. 

Supper is served from 6:00-6:30 p.m. After brief instructions, adults pick up their class ministry lists and begin calls or writing cards—whichever they are most comfortable doing. Messages should focus on positives such as what is happening at the church, the next study topic, or an upcoming social or special church event.  The goal is to contact every guest from the last six months, recent absentees, and as many other members as possible; don’t forget to include the faithful attenders just to say thanks!

What a thrill to see classes gathered around tables writing notes or making a call. Grade school children, as young as 1st grade, love sitting with teachers who help them write postcards to their peers. Of course teenagers display their own unique styles when writing cards. Adults who finish early often join Preschool teachers to be sure every small child receives their very own piece of mail. Everyone is on their way home no later than 7:30 p.m.

Most recently, 55 adults, youth and children participated—representing one out of every six people present in Sunday School the previous Sunday. In less than one hour, more than 300 cards were written and 40 phone calls made. Perhaps best of all, some adults who had never been involved found out they could participate and enjoy being involved in outreach and inreach activities.  Perhaps Chili, Cards and Calls can help your Sunday School reach out and stay in contact.

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Marie Clark is team leader for the Bible Teaching & Discipling Team of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. She is a member of Nall Avenue Baptist Church where she currently serves through the Welcome Ministry.

Related posts:

  1. Using Outreach Events to Grow Your Sunday School
  2. Special Event Outreach
  3. Seven Simple Steps toward a Class Outreach Strategy
  4. VBS Follow-up Change?
  5. Expect Leaders to Arrive Early