Launch Pad 17: A Community BBQ

Here’s the vision. Throw the doors of the church wide-open, provide great food and a hearty welcome, invite the neighbours in, raise money for a good cause and deepen links between the church and the wider community. All with the goal of breaking down barriers to the gospel.

One church we work closely with has been doing this for years with their community BBQs. The organiser, Gordy Mackay, explained that there are large numbers of friendly people on the periphery of the church community who welcome the opportunity to come a bit closer. Some are parents who bring their little ones to the toddler group, but have never been on a Sunday or met the wider church family. Others are parents who drop their kids off for midweek events or holiday clubs but who never stop to chat. The last community BBQ was timed to follow-on from the holiday club, when the church had high levels of community contact, and all the children carried invitations to the BBQ home with them.

The charity aspect is likewise very attractive for people. Gordy has links with Malawi and so ran the community BBQ as a fundraiser to supply clean water to a very needy community and hospital there. The target of £3K was smashed when £8k was raised. Gordy said: “Many outsiders only know or hear what the church is against; this event provided a positive witness about something the church is for!” Inviting guests to participate and in a sense ‘own’ what was going on was important.

“I didn’t realise you live in my street”, “I never knew you had children in the same school as me”, were just some of the conversations overheard during this year’s event. As the aroma of the hog roast filled the air and the fizzy drinks were poured, children played on inflatables while adults chatted.

The church is going to make the community BBQ an annual event, and in the coming year are going to use it to launch their Alpha course. When the community come in they will be welcomed, fed, and introduced to Alpha and invitations will go out.

What could your church do to create a low-key welcoming space in which to embrace and reach your local community?

Pray: Lord, please help us to make church an open, hospitable place for others. Amen!

Previously: Launch Pad #16 Put The E Into Evangelism!

Next: Launch Pad #18 The Welcome Pack (That Goes the Extra Mile!)