BY STEVE DUNN
For several years now, the Shippensburg First Church of God has a used a wonderful tool to provide a nice gift to the community around them and connect their people with their neighbors by getting the church people “into the streets.” It’s called THE BLOCK PARTY. Since the time Matthew threw a party and invited his friends to meet Jesus, things like BLOCK PARTIES have been highly effective in building bridges of redemption to the community.
Last year the Ship FCOG family had 600 people come to their annex parking lot in just four hours on an August Saturday. This year in the midst of the heat and vacation season, 450 people spent time eating great food, enjoying kids games, haring great music, meeting the church staff, viisiting the Jumping Tent and Dunk Tank. Ship arranged for a Christian and who uses reptiles, turtles and even snakes (think python and boa constrictor) to tell about the wonder of God’ creative genius. Face painting, door prizes, and a T-shirt launch added to the fun and fellowship.
There is no cost to the guests.They are asked to register by name and address, given door prize tickets and told just to have fun. More than 100 church volunteers of all ages help out and interact. The youth and children’s ministries have creative information tents. The opportunity is taken to invite people to join the church in worship the next day, which even includes and offer of transportation is needed.
This year four families accepted the invitation and were in worship the next day. At least two follow-ups are planned in the next 30 days. Since over half of the guests were unchurched, a letter goes out from the pastor inviting to join the Ship FCOG in worship, and a reminder if they ever need a good neighbor for a any reason–give the church a call. The second will precede the fall launch to youth and children’s ministries.
More will follow in a subsequent post about the benefits of a Block Party and some of the variations that a church can use with this wonderful tool.