This update is from Dustin Lampe, lead pastor at Christ Fellowship Church, one of GCI’s Cincinnati, Ohio, metro area congregations.
Now that it’s fall, nature once again is entering a state of dormancy. But as that occurs, my congregation is coming alive as we take significant steps toward becoming truly community-focused. As we do, new relationships are blossoming! Twice in October we went knocking on doors within the neighborhoods surrounding our church building. Our goal was to meet people and invite them to upcoming community-oriented events at our church.
The first event, held the last two weeks in October, was a Pumpkin Patch. Members were out on our front lawn for eight hours each day selling pumpkins and hosting fall-themed children’s games, a cornstalk maze, and offering smores around a fire encircled with bales of hay as places to sit and talk. Though this event helped us raise funds for the second event, most importantly it gave us opportunity to share God’s love with the people who stopped by.
The second event was a Harvest Festival held at our church facility on October 31. To the Pumpkin Patch set-up we added inflatables, a pony ride, live music, additional games, a lady on stilts making balloon animals, face painting, and lots of free food (including more of the smores cooked over the open fire). The festival was attended by hundreds of people. As a result, men, women and children are getting connected to Christ through our congregation, serving as his hands and feet. In this way we are following Christ’s call to create space within which mission and relationships happen. It’s a joy to see!
Our two outreach events with the associated time in the neighborhoods, gave our members opportunity to connect with people “outside the walls” of our church. Through these connections we’ve had opportunity to invite people to church, to welcome them in, and to offer them opportunities to embark on a pathway of discipleship that is all about encountering our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. In this way we’re putting “feet” to where our hearts and mouths are.
Though it’s been hard (but not impossible) work, we all would testify that it has been an unspeakable joy. Making changes in our outlook and habits can be scary and unfamiliar—such change requires making adjustments. But without a doubt, the change we’re experiencing at Christ Fellowship Church is beautiful to behold.
We want to thank the GCI ministers who traveled to Cincinnati to help with our Harvest Festival. Their participation was part of a GCI-USA Outside the Walls consulting event. Special thanks to Heber Ticas (national coordinator of GCI-USA Church Multiplication Ministries), who leads Outside the Walls consulting. He helped us capture a bigger vision and implement useful methods for community-focused mission. We plan to continue the momentum gained by hosting additional events throughout the coming year and beyond. Doing so will help us connect further with the community surrounding our church building. We look forward to joining Jesus who already is on mission there!