Grace Communion River Road, just outside Eugene, Oregon, recently held a successful Outside The Walls (OTW) event. We invited neighbors to join us for fun carnival games, free food, and even summer snowball fights.
Our Love Avenue team wanted an event as welcoming as it was repeatable. “Christmas in July” seemed simple to explain and an instant tradition to draw people year after year. Throughout the training the acronym OTW became widespread. Looking Outside The Walls to serve our neighbors is important. Even so, I immediately saw OTW as ‘On The Way’ and for me, the event took on new meaning. The great commission is translated with the command, “Go”, but the Greek reads, “as you go.” In other words, ‘On The Way’ to whatever you do, make disciples.
I feared that a failed OTW would discourage our congregation from ever reaching out again. We have to remember that events are opportunities, not obligations. When we have fun engaging with guests, they are bound to want to join us on the way.
We made ourselves known in the community and started some good relationships with the neighbors who stopped by, but we learned we could have had better advertising and signage. Also, reducing the event from five to three hours could prevent wearing out our volunteers in the future. I look forward to seeing more neighbors at our monthly family nights, and we already have volunteers eager for our Halloween event.
You don’t have to spend a fortune or overwork the members of your congregation to attract people to join you in the body of Christ. Your congregation just needs to be welcoming and treat every guest as a new friend. I know that I picked up some friends on the way and am excited to see what God has in store for the future.
By Aleck Thompson
Associate Pastor & Love Avenue Champion