For the first time ever our church took Trunk R Treat to a slightly sketchy neighborhood park. We had no idea what to expect but we prayed and planned and asked God to provide us with what He knew we needed for the night. Our church family worked hard and long to create a lit up obstacle course on the playground, set up decorated tables of candy and created a “dark room” where the Gospel would be presented every 4 minutes for two and a half hours straight.
We are a small rural town and estimate that around 1000+ people came through the park. Of those people only about 5% got their candy and skipped out on the “Dark Room” where Randy gave a short telling of the Gospel using different kinds of light to represent how we can all go from dark to light through Jesus Christ.
We got home last night and neither one of us could sleep because we were so excited about the night. What God did. How excited our church family was about what God did. It’s impossible to do what God created us to do (to know Him and share His Good News with others) and not get a thrill from it. Combine that with a sugar induced high and you got some major sleep deprivation going on. And so as I lay awake late last night these are the things that ran through my mind and heart in regards to outreach.
#1 You know your Trunk R Treat is a true “community outreach” event when there is only one Bible character that shows up out of hundreds of people and everyone mistakes “Moses” for Gandalf. You can catch a glimpse of Gandalf’s twin, Moses, below. Love it!!!
#2 Another way we know we’re participating in a true community outreach is when the church is serving off site. It’s easy to set up our church homes with all kinds of fun stuff and ask people to come to us – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but true outreach is when we reach out to people beyond our church property. Beyond the pews and steeples. It’s when we go to our community instead of asking them to come to us every. single. time.
#3 Outreach is taking the love and message of Jesus to places where people are comfortable showing up. I can’t know for sure but I would say that more than half the people that came to the park last night and sat through a 3 minute sharing of the Gospel most likely don’t and would not step foot in church. We can make all kinds of judgements about people who choose to stay away from church but the bottom line is this: do we want them to hear the Gospel and be shown the love of Jesus? If so, we must be willing to serve outside the walls of our churches.
#4 Reaching out in our communities will get messy. But it’s worth it. People will be rude. There will be times that people will take advantage of your kindness. Not necessarily often but when it happens it will make you stop in your tracks and ask yourself if it’s worth it. And we remind ourselves that it is so worth it. Remembering where we were before Christ and recalling the abundant life we now have in Christ will remind us how worth-it it is.
#5 Outreach is not about building our church but solely about building the Kingdom of God. Sometimes that translates into our churches growing and that’s awesome but the motivating factor in outreach is to share Jesus with people expecting nothing in return. That’s why church turf guarding isn’t necessary one bit. Last night we were telling people about the other awesome churches in our community doing Trunk R Treat at their church. One person made the comment they were going to Community Baptist Church next and I had to tell them “Dude, this is Community Baptist Church!” That was an awesome moment. They said, “Really! That is so cool that ya’ll came to the community for this. Thanks for doing that.”
I’ve mentioned before that our church is learning and growing in so many areas. Getting out of our comfort zone is one of them. But we are seeing God go before us, provide for us and do through us what we could never do ourselves. One of our members looked at me last night as we were taking down the last of everything at the park and he said, “Now this was church right here.” I couldn’t say it better myself!