A couple of Wednesdays ago we had our open Halloween party for the community. If you weren’t there you can see pictures from the event now posted in the hallway outside the sanctuary and opposite the history wall. Looking at those pictures again reminds me of what a miracle that event was.
Through experience and through contact with colleagues I know that most United Methodist Churches are largely culturally homogenous. Most of the ministers I know would fall over backwards in happy disbelief if they opened their gym for Halloween and saw the variety of people that showed up in our FLC.
Just in terms of establishing rapport with people, our Halloween party was a howling success. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) People hear our actions louder than our words. I think the message was loud and clear: You are welcome here. We like having you here.
I want people to know that our welcome is a reflection of God’s welcome of us in Jesus Christ. To that end we gave away free Bibles. We gave Bibles away to whites, to Asian Indians, to African Americans, and to Latinos. Not many churches can say that on any day of the year, much less Halloween.
I also want the people who visited to know God’s grace and love for them in Jesus Christ. I hope that they profess faith in Christ, join our congregation and grow in their discipleship. I know that the Church does not have the instant trust of our society in general that it once had. So building relationships from scratch is the order of the day.
I think of open community events such as the Halloween party and the upcoming Christmas Tree Lighting on December 2nd in two ways. One way I see them is in creating a kingdom moment; a moment where we see a gathering of people that reflects the way heaven will look. (Isa. 40:5) I think creating such a moment is an end in and of itself. It expands our imagination, our understanding of God, and the appreciation of our mission. One other way I see such events is scattering seed. Some won’t sprout at all. But other seeds will fall on good soil and bring forth a hundredfold. (Matthew 13:8)
Thanks to all who helped make the party happen. Let’s do it again!