Reaching Out in a Different Venue

Warm weather brings about change in every Midwestern person. Some break out of cabin fever only to visit movie theaters for the big blockbuster films beginning to release. Others don their sports gear and hit the ball fields and 5K races. Attendance starts to drop at churches across America and vacationers head to sights of interest.

There is no surprise in these activities, as it happens like clock work. What I don’t understand is why many churches are caught off guard by it. If the church is relevant for today, why does it not change its behavior and program locations during the summer along with everyone else?

In all my travels, I have yet to see a vacationer’s church experience promoted. Oh, I’m not talking about having churches invite vacationers to their normal services during the summer, the very thing people are getting away from, but rather something new and exciting that makes Christ relevant to our summers.

Chicago is a huge place for vacationers every summer and always open to new ideas and events. One event I’d love to see is a boat trip on the Chicago river that points out the sights where God moments happened to normal people – stories of faith at every bend.

Or, what about at the ballpark? Sponsoring a sports clinic with a Christian athlete as the main speaker for those attending, not to mention the workshops for coaches on how to inspire and encourage kids based on biblical principles. Even secular coaches want to know how to coach better.

Summer theater is another big opportunity for travelers. Who wouldn’t want to see a wholesome family show in the park sponsored by a community church with kindness exuding from the volunteer ushers? Just finding a clean show is a miracle in of itself, let alone the experience being rich with love and grace.

I never understood why some folks feel that evangelism has to be about hell, fire and brimstone. I’ll never forget hearing one speaker on my college campus condemning everyone who walked by. He got right up in my face and shouted that I was a sinner headed to hell. What he didn’t know is that I headed up the only known Bible study on the secular campus where I attended.

After I wiped the spit from my face, I invited him to join our study that night. The shock on his face was amazing. That night he came by my dorm room and joined our study. The students took time to pray blessings over him. The next day he was on the main campus walk again, but instead of preaching condemnation, he spoke of grace, love and joy. He drew a huge crowd like he had never seen before.

Perspective is a marvelous gift we have, but few seem to look at life from different angles to see what they’re missing. If your church is in a rut and doing the same things day in and day out, I suggest you volunteer to be a part of the new summer vacation out reach program your church hasn’t yet thought about.

Find a way to speak into the lives of those who don’t attend church. Be intentional about doing something your church never did before. After all, most of your congregation has chosen to do something this summer that they have never done before, so consider facilitating your church doing the same. You’ll be amazed at how many people are just waiting for something fresh, different and life giving.

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