Sunday, August 05, 2012

Church in the Park

Today our church doors stayed locked, the sanctuary completely empty . . . because we had church in the Park, complete with baptisms in the river, volleyball, and activities for the kids.

We have been looking forward to it for weeks--the day when we would worship, learn, and fellowship out in the open. Everyone was told to bring sack lunches plus one extra. The church staff loaded ice chests with the lunches, as water and other drinks and plenty of extra sandwiches; they covered a table with baskets full of cookies and bags of chips. We didn't want this to be an exclusive "members only" event; we hoped people would hear the music or teaching and wander over, and if they did, we hoped they would accept our offer to stay. Since our church loves to reach out to the community, volunteers also planned to walk around with the extra lunches and invite people to join us or just give them something to eat. (I live in Reno, Nevada and we have a lot of poor and homeless downtown where this park happens to be.)

I must admit that I wondered how outsiders would respond. Would they make fun of our music or mock the sermon? Would they accept the offers to join the picnic or just take the food and walk away? Would half the lunches go uneaten? Instead, passers by stopped to listen and many set down for both the service and lunch. A rafter stopped to watch the baptisms. One teenage boy approached a girl who had been baptized and asked, "How did you know for sure you were saved?" and she got to share with him. No one seemed to care that it was 100 degrees outside; we were having too much fun to care about weather.

I have no idea who got the lunch I made, but I pray they walked away knowing . . .
God truly does love them
Their life can change
Following Christ, while not always easy, can fill your life with joy, hope, wonderful friends, and yes, even fun

When have you had an exciting opportunity to reach out to your community? How did you see God at work?

I would love to hear your stories. 



Robin Caroll said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Mhelai Padawel said...

I always loved outdoor sharing... As you get closer to God... you get closer to nature too.... ^_^

Our small group here at the church, has outdoor activity we call retreats... And its similar to what you were doing... and It's a great experience. Thank you for sharing... ^_^