Monday, October 20, 2008

Seeding the Community for Christ

We're a church off the beaten path. Unless you live and work in Valparaiso, and even then only near City Hall or Valparaiso Elementary, there's no reason for you to have ever seen New Hope Baptist Church. Very few people take the scenic drive (this is where you laugh) through downtown Valparaiso, choosing instead to take Bayshore, where they are confronted with all that yucky nature stuff.

So we're invisible, and no one is looking to find us.

There are ways to attack that problem. We can create opportunities for people to notice us. Each week, a small group of New Hope folks puts out road signs in key points around the area on Friday evening and takes them up on Sunday night. Cheap and effective. But you still have to take the initiative and hunt us up after seeing the sign. If you are not looking for a church, you won't.

So we have begun to accelerate our "Takin' It To the Streets" campaign. We've done backyard Bible club events, movies in the park next to the museum, sno cones in the bayside park, sno cones at the Relay for Life events, and lots of activities on the church campus. We're doing one for Halloween there.

Soon it will be block party time.

We're going to take the best of everything we have done, and go into the neighborhoods of some of our members with puppets, snacks, and a movie for the kids. I found some training for block parties through a Director of Missions up in Michigan named Bobby Gilstrap. We'll go through that, develop a checklist we'll consult each time to minimize confusion and maximize impact - and off we'll go. Plans are to possibly do them on Sunday nights so we can step into the world of the unchurched even deeper.

Our hope is to introduce ourselves to the community as good neighbors, and build bridges that the gospel can travel over. As time passes, more people may just take that scenic drive to Valparaiso to see what God is doing at New Hope. :)

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