Last week, my church held its annual festival free of charge to the community.
It’s always a big event and is held at a good time in the year when the weather is lovely outside and having an afternoon of kids games, music and BBQ food is great to be a part of. The festival was free to everyone – whether it was pulled-pork BBQ rolls, make-your-own taco station, sausage on bread, beef kebab skewers, sodas, milkshakes, cakes, biscuits, well you get the picture – a lot of nice food and drinks that didn’t cost a cent.
The idea was that it is all free, just like the Gospel. This was a good conversation starter when people from the community asked, ‘how much is this?’ It opened up the opportunity to tell them about Jesus and invite them to come to a service and learn more about Him, or to have their children come to one of our youth ministries.
Tasks for everyone to do
Those of us not on mingling with families from the area were placed on rosters to look after various stations. Last year, I was on the putt-putt golf circuit where the various obstacles at each hole proved a challenge for the young golfers hoping to make par.
This year once again, I was on handing out putters and balls, and seeing off the participants as they went from hole to hole. The back nine was tricky with one hole having a dog-leg shape and you had to get around a kangaroo model sitting in the middle. A few of the young guys who got a hole-in-one had earlier had their scores blow out on their cards at this hole.
There was also a jumping castle, which when I was a kid was a simple four-walled house and you jumped around – simple enough and entertained my generation for hours.
Apparently, that isn’t enough for kids these days – this jumping castle had basketball hoops either side so you could jump around and slam dunk the ball like Michael Jordan. Next to this was a stair case that led to the top corner where you then slid down a slide. It took all but 10 seconds to inflate when it was plugged in, and it was a big hit with the kids.
We had a face-painting stand where the talented girls of our church painted super heroes, princesses, animals, insects and all sorts of characters and flowers on the children. I passed on getting my face painted like a lion, though a couple of years ago I was on face painting, and well, one kid wanted a dragon and my skill at the brush is best suited to canvas.
By the time I was done, it was more of an ‘interpretive’ face-painting of a dragon (to put it kindly) so I deferred on being put on face painting again. Instead, I signed up for tasks better suited to the skills God gave me.
Laser tag in the church hall was well received; we rearranged furniture and tables to make forts and walls for the kids to hide behind as red team v. blue team to capture the flag.
A welcoming environment
Our church festivals are always well received, and we have seen growth in attendance with newcomers interested in finding out more about our church, its ministries and learning about Jesus. As it says in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 58, ‘always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain’.
It’s encouraging to see newcomers walking through our doors at church on Sunday mornings and to see our community of believers expanding – that’s what it is all about!
Christopher Archibald lives in Sydney and is a Youth Leader at New Life Christian Church in Blacktown. A voracious reader, he ploughs through many books in a calendar year, with a bookcase that is constantly being rearranged to accommodate new additions.
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