Sunday, October 28, 2007

Carnival Atmosphere

Carole and I have just returned from Highland Oaks' annual parking lot carnival. It's really a big deal. Numerous giant inflatable games and exhibits are brought in. There is face-painting and tossing balls at stacked bottles. The food is free. Literally thousands of folks buy a $3 ticket for admission.

The purpose, of course, is to build goodwill in the community and hopefully make a few contacts that result in positive spiritual benefits. In other words, use the carnival to introduce people to Jesus.

Is something like this a wise use of the congregation's money? Perhaps it's worth discussing. It costs a bunch of money...I'm sure just buying insurance for such a big event is staggering. But it does introduce, even in a small way, the community to Highland Oaks. They know we're here and they know we're a friendly bunch. My question to the readers is: Even if none of the thousands of guests ever darkens the doorstep of the church, is such an effort still worth it because of the goodwill created in the neighborhood? Is it worth it just for the sense of teamwork it builds within our fellowship? What do you think?

I know this sounds like I'm negative toward the annual project. But actually I'm not. I just don't know enough about whether actual productive contacts are made and I would like to know that before I decide. Again, what do you think?


Heather said...

Absolutely worth it, even if only one soul is brought in to the kingdom. We were just talking about this in Sunday School today. I definitely think outreach events reach other people who may otherwise never step foot in a church for whatever reason. Outreach is a vital part of any church body in my humble opinion. If we can be the conduit by which God introduces himself to other then we should feel honored. Just my .02 though.

Lynn Leaming said...

I have a really hard time with this one because I struggle with the roots and purposes of Halloween. I know we try to sanitize it for our kids and families, but even some of "our own" dress as witches or even the devil himself? It is too hard to put controls on it so I just tend to avoid it altogether. I personally think any outreach effort is only as good as the follow up and I am not sure how Highland Oaks does this? Richardson East did a better job this summer documenting people in our Wednesdays In The Park so we could be more intentional about following up. I am not sure how they documented visitors last night for Trunk or Treat?

Kim Bowen said...

Great question! A lot of money is spent in churches everywhere for evangelism. I remember the Joy Bus ministry from long ago. Keeping old buses running was a huge expense along with insurance issues. Door knocking was cheap but ineffective. A church in Nashville but a huge billboard downtown that said "Over one billion saved". Big money I'm sure. I don't think the point is how we spend it as long as we are not reckless. God says his word goes forth and does not return empty. I think it is up to Him who is reached when and where. We just provide the opportunities. So as far as the carnival....why not? Someone will show up to a carnival and possibly receive a much needed welcome that would not be reached by any other means. Some child will look back and remember that a church brought a fun memory instead of a scary message about hell. Just my 2 cents.