What we used to do: For years and years we have done a huge Fall Festival in our own parking lot. We always did it on Halloween night as an alternative/supplement to trick-or-treating. It was a blast and we typically had a couple of thousand people attend. We did inflatables, games, candy, and prizes. One year we did pony rides and a petting zoo. One year we had one of those huge climbing mountains. Restaurants came and sold food. It was a great event and I loved it. We considered it a gift to our community. We staffed it by asking adult small groups to adopt and staff a booth. This created a great night of community as well.
Why we changed: Over the past couple of years we really started to hear more and more that our people wanted to be in their neighborhoods instead of volunteering at the event. This was quite a change from several years ago. Especially after 9/11 people in our community wanted a safe place to go. We realized that people wanting to be in their community was a God thing! I’ve heard many times the question: “What other night of the year do all of your neighbors come to your door?” On the one night our church members haven’t been home!
What we’re doing this year (part 1): We have 6 small groups who are hosting “neighborhood parties”. We are providing invitations, games, crafts, glow-in-the-dark face paint, and info about our church. They are doing the rest. They are setting up in their yards, driveways, or neighborhood clubhouses and reaching out to families as they come through trick-or-treating.
What we’re doing this year (part 2): We also launched a new campus in September. We decided to have a scaled-down version of our Fall Festival in that community. We are getting to host it in a Publix Shopping Center parking lot. This will be our “what’s next” after the campus launch to reach out to the community again. The fun part is that it will be staffed by our new campus as well as small groups from our other campus. Truly one church, two locations – all throwing one party.