To increase visibility in the Broken Arrow community, Heritage UMC turned its Pumpkin Patch from a simple fall fundraiser into an intentional ministry outreach and, using social media for promotion, realized "incredible" results.
Each weekend the Patch was open, Heritage held events designed specifically to invite the community to join in the fun on its property. Among the events were a Smoked Meat Competition and Pony Ride Saturday, and a Fall Festival, which included Trunk or Treat.
On their own, these were great events, but Heritage created online Facebook Events for each of them as well.
Church staff and members reposted these events for weeks on Facebook. They began to notice other people in Broken Arrow were sharing the news in posts, too.
And suddenly even more people began sharing on Facebook. By the date of the Smoked Meat Competition and Pony Ride, 2,000 people had indicated they were "Interested" in the event. Over 400 had indicated they were "Going" to be there.
And come they did! More than 1,500 people came that Saturday to Heritage.
The United Methodist Circle of Care Boys Ranch, which provided the ponies, reported giving 319 pony rides that day — over 200 more rides than ever before on a single day. In the evening, more than 500 people ate smoked meat and side dishes.
Matt Morgan, who is the church’s Foundry worship leader/youth minister, said, "We simply shared our post about the Smoked Meat Competition and Pony Rides and kept sharing. We invited our congregation to do the same. And they did.
"It only takes a few seconds to do, but it led to one of the greatest events ever at Heritage!"
That event was followed by the Fall Festival, which typically draws about 300 people. Heritage’s folks again went to Facebook to advertise the event.
The result: attendance increased by 200 percent.
Well over 900 people came to the festival.
Scott Rodgers, senior pastor at Heritage, said, "We have had incredible response to our Facebook posting. It is a tool we intend to use many more times in the future. I hope other churches will think about using social media to reach out into their communities as well."
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