ALEXANDRIA, La. -- Fall is here! Now is the time to plan for a fall festival or an alternative to Halloween for your community.
Depending on how large an outreach you are planning, you may or may not be behind in preparing for the event. With proper planning, special evangelistic events such as these can have a tremendous impact on your congregation.
Under a canopy of pine trees, Pine Grove Baptist Church in Ruby, La., ministers to 150 people on an average Sunday morning. Recently, pastor Dwayne Rogers led his church to host a Community Celebration. Besides games, inflatables and lots of food, the church set up a tent for groups to sing. It was an old-fashioned community picnic. They even invited local politicians to come meet their people. The members had a prayer booth, a missions booth and a booth for guests to receive a special gift packet.
The church wanted their guests to feel special and welcome at Pine Grove, and their hard work paid off: The following Sunday, four new families accepted the church's offer to attend services. That one event increased their attendance 10 percent.
Planning for this type of event is as simple as ABC -- Attraction, Bridge and Communicate the Gospel.
You need to attract attention to get people to your event –- through publicity, outdoor decorations or equipment. A tent is a natural draw. People want to know why you have it on your grounds. Combine a tent with great signage and you have an instant attention-getter. If you use large inflatables such as a space walk or slide, people will slow down to see what is taking place.
In building bridges, remember that people build bridges, not buildings. The church is not like the line from the movie "Field of Dreams": "If you build it, they will come." If church buildings attracted the masses, our churches should be full. A fall festival is not held just to have a lot of fun, which by the way you will have; it is held to reach your community for Christ. An event like this gives your church members another reason to invite an unbelieving neighbor or friend to be touched by your ministries.
We need to remember our events are for sharing the Gospel. Whether you do it with an actual evangelistic message, through a prayer tent or by church members who are intentional about sharing the Gospel at the event, you need to plan just as concisely as you do for any other aspect of the event. Without intentionality, the Gospel will not be shared and you will have just a good event, not an evangelistic event.
A great way to share the Gospel with your guests is to give away marked New Testaments. However, you need to train a team to give the Bibles away. Here's an approach team members can use: "We are so glad you came to our event today. We have a gift we would like you to have. Would you mind if I take just a moment to show you how to use it?" If the person says yes, then show them the Bible and share the Gospel message as you have pre-marked it in the Bible. The Roman Road (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-10; 10:13) is one way to mark the New Testament or you can use any other method you desire.
As Fall approaches, don't fall down on the job of evangelism. Look for opportunities to help your community encounter the risen Christ.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention's evangelism & church growth team.
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