Resources for Outreach
Just 'cause we're quiet, doesn't mean we should be shy! But all of us could use some help figuring out this outreach thing. And we always can use the reminder: ENJOY, ENJOY! We have this great stuff to share. Let's have fun with it. If your meeting has more outreach resources that could be posted, please contact Sarah Spencer.
- 1. Does your Meeting have an outreach committee? Or are 1 or more of your committees charged with aspects of outreach?
- 2. Do you make yourselves known in your community?
- A. Do you have signs? Are you listed in the phone book? Do you advertise in your local paper?
- B. Do you send notices of events that might attract others in the community to your local newspaper? To a town web page/community events listing?
- C. Do you put up posters advertising your meeting time and location in places where people gather?
- D. If there is a college nearby, have you made an effort to contact students/faculty?
- E. Do you cooperate with and help sponsor local events which would carry the message of Quakerism to the local community?
- 3. Do you welcome newcomers and encourage participation by newer attenders?
- A. Do you regularly introduce visitors at the rise of Meeting? Do you have a guest book? Is literature readily available?
- B. Who in your meeting talks to newcomers during coffee hour? How could you better support this practice?
- C. Does your meeting offer discussions/workshops on Quaker practices, history or testimonies? Do you promote workshops, courses and lectures offered by other meetings, the Quarter and local Quaker institutions?
- D. Do you organize events which encourage members, attenders and newcomers to get to know each other?
- E. Do you seek to involve those who have recently become regular attenders in the committee work of the Meeting?
- 4. Do you encourage spiritual growth in everyone in your meeting?
- A. Do you encourage attendance at First Day school and meeting for worship?
- B. Do you have a plan to encourage Meeting members to visit other Meetings? Do you invite other Meetings to visit you?
- C. Is there a plan in practice to deepen the spiritual life of the Meeting through a retreat, a conference, or a series of worship and study discussions?
- D. Are Junior Members and young attenders encouraged to become Members of the Meeting? Are adult attenders encouraged also?
- E. Do you keep in touch with young attenders and members who are away at school?
- 5. Do you use the resources of the Quarter and the Yearly Meeting?
- A. Are you prompt and thorough in filling requests for information from the Quarter or the Yearly Meeting office?
- B. Have you looked at the Quarter web site? Is all the information there that pertains to your meeting correct and complete?
- C. Have you used the Traveling Ministries program of the Yearly Meeting to enrich your meeting's spiritual life?
- Resources on the web:
- Outreach email list: Want a continuing conversation? Join this group and exchange email on Outreach with like-minded Friends: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Quaker_Outreach_Forum/
- Web pages worth looking at:
- an Outreach Review at the FGC website.
- Before you have your meeting phone listed as "Down by the Riverside Meeting " look at: these guidelines for phone listings.
- Does the whole concept of getting your meeting's name in the local paper seem just too difficult? Check this page to learn all about press releases (and when you may not need to write one):
- and then there's Quaker Guerilla Outreach a delightful sight that positively rants about outreach. Follow their links for the Thrifty Quaker to see what a web site can do!
- Printed resource:
- Much of this material originated in Greg Hibbs's booklet, "Advancement/Outreach, A Hidden Quaker Speaks Out". This booklet can be borrowed from the New England Yearly Meeting Ministry & Counsel committee.
- About signs:
- Perhaps you have noticed that other denominations have street signs, maybe a block or two away from their meetingplaces. We could do that. Here's where to order them: From the FGC Bookstore (you will find a picture there)
- And how do you get them installed? This varies by town. Call your Department of Public Works. Boston charges $150 every 5 years, and will create and install such a sign. Other communities probably have similar policies.
QUAKER PRESS OF FGC
White enamel on aluminum with reflective black paint. Measures 12" by 18". A 12" by 6" directional arrow is included. Text reads: "QUAKER MEETING / RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS / ALL WELCOME"
$35.00, in stock
by Anne Thomas, Canadian Yearly Meeting***
(Time: about two hours)
There are two prevalent attitudes about outreach in Canadian Yearly Meeting:
- a. it's proselytizing and Friends don't do this
- b. it's all about notices, phone books and leaflets.
- open with a time of worship
- if not all Friends know each other, go round the room sharing names
The format of the workshop is worship sharing. This aims at giving each person an opportunity to respond to a question, or to pass. The response will not be questioned, but will be carefully heard, with time allowed before the next person responds. The length of individual responses depends on the number in the group. A gentle reminder that all Friends need the opportunity to speak, or to begin to focus on the particular question asked may enable Friends to be breasonably concise in their answers. Some information from England is interspersed which can be shared with the group on a flip chart, if possible, leading to informal discussion before the next question is asked.
How did you get to your first Quaker Meeting?
In Caring, Conviction and Commitment, a survey of ten years' worth of attenders in Britain Yearly Meeting, Alastair Heron found the following breakdown among attenders:
- contact with a member or an attender 37%
- came with parents, family involvement 21%
- miscellaneous 15%
- reading about Quakers 9%
- advertisement 6%
- saw the Meetinghouse 6%
- peace activities 4%
- attended a Friends' school 3%
Is this similar to the local experience?
Do any of these figures surprise anyone (peace, for example)?
Why did you go to your second Quaker Meeting?
Heron found that attenders returned because of:
- acceptance 25%
- tolerance 17%
- manner of worship 16%
- silence 9%<
- pacifism 9%
- social concerns 6%
- structure 5%
What brings you back to Meeting now?
The variety of responses may indicate the ways in which outreach has been effective for particular Friends. Does the Meeting respond to the sort of enquirers that those present in the room were?
The technicalities of advertising and providing leaflets are easy to achieve, but these do not make effective outreach. People are the outreach program. In Making New Friends: Spiritual Hospitality: proceedings of a conference on outreach, Harvey Gillman suggests our house must be in order if we are to be welcoming to seekers:
- Do we notice when new people come to Meeting?
- Do we want new people to come to Meeting?
- Do we look for that of God in new people or expect them to see it in us?
- Do we recognise that we too are seekers and that outreach is a lifelong part of our growth?
- Harvey Gillman, ed., Outreach Manual, QHS, 1990*
- Harvey Gillman et at, Making New Friends: Spiritual Hospitality, Quaker Universalist Fellowship, 1994*
- Alastair Heron, Caring, Conviction, Commitment, QHS, 1992*
- Information Kit for Enquirers, HMAC*
- North Pacific YM, Survival Sourcebook, 1990**
- Pat Patterson, A New Friends Gathering, FGC, 1986**
- Philadelphia YM, Outreach Ideabook, 1986**
* Quaker Book Service
** Friends General Conference
***This article is from Resources for Fostering Vital Friends Meeting
Hey, I never thought of that...
some somewhat unusual thoughts on outreach
Let's do something our community would enjoy.
- Hold a pancake breakfast.
- Have the biggest darn used book sale in the area. (How about putting a Quaker bookmark in every book sold?)
- How about a "Simplify, Simplify" tag sale?
Let's tell everyone that we're here!
- Put up posters announcing your Meeting in the local laundromat and grocery store.
- Hold a "Seekers" day, with an introductory program like "Peace, What do Quakers Say?" and advertise it with posters, listing in newspaper events columns and through contacts with your local peace groups.
- Develop stories for your local paper about:
- interesting places Friends in your meeting have traveled,
- lifestyle choices (simplicity, family peacefulness) and how Friends in your Meeting strive to live them
- your building (if you own one) as a historic structure or as renovated.
- If your public library has Quaker books, add to them. If not, donate!
And what we're moved to do in the world!
- Organize a local peace vigil with "Peace is a moral value. Just ask Quakers!" signs.
- Put up a Peace banner outside your Meeting House, or put a peace message on the sign that you put out front on Sundays if your space is rented.
- Offer a "Simplify, Simplify" workshop on resisting consumerism for ourselves and our children.
- Surely someone in your meeting is interested in good stewardship of the earth. So participate in earthday and harvest fair and spring fair events in your community.
And when new people turn up
- Provide your greeters with instructions: If someone turns up that you don't know, ask "Is this your first time at Quaker Meeting?" Distribute our newcomers handout and a contact card.
- If you don't have a first day school, fit out a bag with crayons, paper, a few books for reading aloud, some playdough and a short plan for spending an hour with kids. Be ready to use it.
- If you do have a first day school, do you have a handout that lets parents and kids know where they go, what group they're in, what the general idea is? Does the greeter know about it?
- Do Friends go out to lunch after Meeting? Could you invite a newcomer along?
- When talking to newcomers, give the short, locally true, answer to questions. Bringing up the 1840 schism does tend to make people's eyes glaze.
LET'S ADMIT THAT WE'RE QUAKERS
LET'S ADMIT THAT WE'RE QUAKERS
It may be as simple as making sure that your Meeting name & phone number is on all handouts. But every activity, story, event should say Quaker. Right next to the directions, worship times and contact phone number!