So I ran across an interesting article Tony Campolo posted today describing a church he recently visited in the UK near London.
Tony describes this church as being pretty large, and, while he never shares an exact number, says there are multiple services each filling the building with people from within walking distance.
When Tony asked the pastor how they accounted for the good attendance, here was the reply:
The pastor explained to me that every other Saturday night they make arrangements to rope off a city block. The police cooperate. They bring in a barrel of beer and a barrel of wine. They add to this a good band. He then went on to say that a hundred of his young people come to this block party and start dancing. It doesn’t take long before people come out of their houses and join them. After a night of dancing and having a good-time party, these young church members say to the people they have been partying with, “How about coming to church with me tomorrow? If you are willing, I will stop by and pick you up.” In reality, it happens and the pastor said, “Every week we pick up about 30 or 40 people who come to our church for the first time. Church growth goes on easily from that point.”
I once attended a conference for ministry leaders in which one keynoter was lauded as “the most evangelistic minister in the United States”.
He organized a worship service on his local college campus and had several hundred students attending each week, many of them non-Christians.
His outreach secret? In addition to having very well-crafted outreach-oriented teaching, “Get a really good band, and serve a few kegs of beer.”
His rationale? “Yeah, some of the kids will get drunk, but they’re going to get drunk anyway. At least they’re getting drunk at a Bible study … right?”
Most church leaders reading this will find that kind of logic idiotic if not down right offensive, but look at what Campolo says:
Some may see this as a dangerous outreach method for a church to utilize. Questions like surrounding the image of the church in the public eye or “Won’t people drink to much and get drunk” are sure to arise. But the beauty of this is that people are being met where they are at and told about the life changing relationship they can have with Jesus Christ. I say Praise God!
Does Tony make a good point, or not? I have my feelings, and would love for you to share yours.