The church has left the building. Literally. Last year Central Church had two outdoor services, on the 4th of July and on Labor Day Sunday. Both were big days. Worship service led from a semi-truck bed and fellowship times following. July 4th had free hot dogs. Labor Day we had food trucks. Pastor Joel and the band were like rock stars (in the best possible way) as they sang praises to Jesus. Prior to the Labor Day Sunday service, while the band was warming up, I went to our neighbors who were setting up a garage sale. I apologized for the noise and offered to buy their lunch from a food truck for the trouble. They gladly accepted the invitation for a free lunch and said music “noise” wasn’t a problem. They liked it.
During the service, Pastor Joel felt led to purchase their entire garage sale (It was mostly baby clothes) and donate everything to Little Lambs, the Nazarene compassionate ministry center that distributes baby clothing and other items. Pastor Joey approached our neighbor and asked how much money they would want for all of the stuff in the garage sale. $100 was the response. Joey offered them $200 and they were overwhelmed by the generosity. Of course, we bought their lunch as promised too. File that under: Be the Best Neighbors (That’s one of our Growing Together core commitments). But something even better began to happen at our 4th of July Sunday Service.
A neighbor from downtown the street heard the music. She came for a better listen and liked it. She called her daughter and they started coming to church. The daughter, Christina, now helps lead a Bible study at the local rescue mission.
During that service, another neighbor named Howard heard the music and walked down the street with his grandson, Trevor. They liked the music too. They returned on Labor Day Sunday for the next outdoor service. After that, Howard and Trevor started attending occasionally and two weeks ago, Howard and Trevor were baptized. If you just heard a noise, it might have been from the angels still rejoicing in heaven shouting, “Praise the Lord!”
Did you ask if our outdoor services are worth it? Yes. Yes. Yes, they are. Not only does it give us a chance to meet our neighbors, sometimes it gives a chance for our neighbors to meet Jesus. We need to get out of our church buildings and enjoy the Son (that’s not a typo).
This Sunday is the first of our Central outdoor services (all three summer holiday weekends we will be outdoors). The service begins at 11AM. Bring a lawn chair and your Gospel of John Journal as we begin our summer series in John. (Don’t have a journal? No worries. Get your free copy this Sunday). Following the service, we will have free hotdogs, chips and bottled water and the Roaring Twenties Ice Cream Truck will be here for tasty treats to purchase. My weather app says it is supposed to be perfect weather on Sunday morning (oh oh… I hope I didn’t just jinx us. I don’t believe in jinxes, so we should be fine). It’s going to be a great day.
Who knows, maybe next spring (or even later this summer when we have a lakeside baptism), we will see another neighbor getting baptized.