How To Throw A Block Party

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The Bridge Church How To Series presents...

How To Throw A Block Party

Ideas for Reaching People through Celebration -

Contents: ‣

Why Block Parties?

A Theology of Partying: How God Used Celebration to Reveal Himself

How To’s: Tips for Block Partying

The Bridge Church Block Party Trailer

First Person: One Bridgers Testimony of Using Block Parties to Reach Out to Neighbors

25 Ways to Be Missional in the Neighborhood

Other Good Resources for ON Mission Living

Dedicated to E-Van,

Announcement Specialist & #1 Block Partier

“You might be a Bridger if you enjoy throwing parties for other people.� - E-Van

Why Block Parties? by Lane Corley Download this article at

Our church conducts a lot of Block Parties. So many we decided to get our own Block Party Trailer. Recently I was asked if Block Parties are effective or just something else to add to a long list of things that keep Christians busy, but not bearing fruit. Here’s a few reasons why I think Block Parties are a great tool in the outreach strategy of a missional church: 1. GATHERING. Someone said there is three keys to church planting or church growth: 1) Gathering people, 2) Gathering people, 3) Gathering people. The Evangelistic Block Party is a great way to gather people or gather where people are & build relationships, share the gospel, cultivate community, & have fun doing it. 2. INCARNATION. “The word became flesh & blood & moved into the neighborhood” John 1:14 (MSG). A Block Party is a great way to get the church building relationships where people are. We do Block Parties in neighborhoods & subdivisions, at local parks. I also love to incarnate at the communities Block Party type of events. Why try to gather people when they’re already going to be gathered somewhere else. Just build the right relationships, show you care, & add Incarnational Christians to the party! Some good places to incarnate through Block Partying: - Multi-Housing complexes. Many times the manager already has a budget for community events. He/she just doesn’t have the time or know how to pull them off. - Subdivisions & neighborhoods. Use your yard or the communities common space. - Area Events. Every community has a festival of some kind. Get involved, pay for space, or whatever you have to do to add your life to the party. In the incarnation, Jesus got close to our needs. Be prepared when you get close to the needs of people to be changed & challenged. Incarnation can hurt if you have thin skin. That’s probably why we don’t do it that much. I can send a postcard mailer & 40-50% of the people will throw it away. No harm to me because I don’t see their reaction. When you’re there, you do see their reaction.You’ve got to know the season, which leads us to #3…

3. SPIRITUAL FARMING. There are really three reasons for any outreach event a congregation or small group conducts: 1) CULTIVATION, 2) PLANTING SEEDS; 3) HARVESTING. Block Party can be an environment for all three to take place. And it’s important to know ahead of time which one of these you are doing so that you can measure effectiveness. Using Block Parties to CULTIVATE. Cultivation is an important part of evangelistic ministry & it’s something that we are leaving off our strategy as churches in the West. Why? Probably because it doesn’t net immediate results. But it is necessary for healthy multiplication of disciples over the long haul. If I plant seeds without knowing & improving the conditions of the soil, my garden may have a short life. We’ve used Block Parties to Cultivate or initiate relationships in new communities over the past three years & it’s helped us in several ways: - To show apartment managers & community leaders that we care. - To test the spiritual soil or readiness of an area or population segment for the Gospel. - To find the persons of peace in a neighborhood. - To train a team & work out the kinks in the “how to’s” of Block Partying What does a cultivative Block Party look like? No real agenda. Loud music. Food. Opportunities to interact & engage in conversation. A lot of “this is what we’re about” talk. And a hardy “WE’LL BE BACK’ when it’s over. Focus is on finding those few people that show interest & readiness to hear the gospel. Here’s a list of goals that one of our Block Party teams recently wrote up for a cultivative event we do each month in our city: - learn/memorize the name of one child you speak to (so you can call them by name next month when you see them) - tell at least 10 people (total): who Bridge Church is, what we are about, and what we believe - see at least one person/family we meet at the BP at another Bridge Church event – (“If you like what we do here at the Block Party, you would love coming to ______ (Our neighborhood block parties, Guy’s/Girl’s Night, Outdoor Movie night, FIA, Sunday morning service).” - each time we speak with someone, have the conversation go beyond, “what type of balloon would you like”, “would you like a fan”, “what color face paint do you want”….actually engage others in conversation, “what is your name”, “where do you work”, “how long have you lived in this area”.

Using Block Parties to PLANT SEEDS. Cultivating & planting seeds are closely related. In gardening you’re often doing both at the same time. In Evangelistic ministry like Block Partying it denotes another step of intentionality. For us in some of our new communities where the soil has been hard, this has looked like… - introducing New Testaments & giving them away to everyone who attends - having a Mic & having someone give a quick testimony as to why we’re there - inviting people to a follow up event like a Bible Study in the area or inviting them to church Using Block Parties as a HARVEST tool. It takes a season to grow a harvest. It also takes mature plants, the right conditions, the right tools for a harvest, & a somewhat knowledgeable harvester. For an evangelistic Block Party to be a Harvest event you should have the trust of the people that have given you permission, people who are ready to harvest – i.e. that can share the gospel & lead someone to put their faith in Christ, & the right harvest tools. Some ways to use Block Parties to harvest: - Have 12 or more people trained to actively share the gospel with the crowd. - Have a Prayer or Spiritual Interest tent designated with trained counselors stationed there. - Share the gospel & give an opportunity to respond from a stage. Utilizing an evangelists, an entertainer of some kind, or a personal testimony of someone in the group. Block parties can be an easy & fun tool to have in your outreach strategy. For best results apply gardening principles: 1. Know what season you’re in – cultivating, planting, or harvesting. 2. Plant generously. the more seeds you plant the more you’ll harvest. 3. Prepare for a harvest. 4. Have a blast! Christian should bring life to every party!

A Theology of Partying: How God Used Celebrations to Reveal Himself

“These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year” ~ Leviticus 23:4. It’s unfortunate that Christianity is often seen as an un-Party. Christians often leave their party lifestyles and join churches where we do socials instead of celebrations. Unfortunate because God used Celebration and Festivals and Parties to reveal much about Himself and His Messiah throughout scripture. While some of these festivals were somber occasions for soul searching and repentance, there were also occasions where God called his people to elaborate celebration of His work on their behalf. Here’s a brief overview of the Old Testament Festivals, what they celebrated, and why they were important: 1. The Sabbath - Lev 23:1-3. One day each week. A time of rest from work celebrating God’s rest at the end of creation week. 2. The New Moon - Numb 28:11-15. One day each month. Celebration that included special offerings and blowing of trumpets. 3. Passover - Lev 23:5. One Day. Celebrated when God spared the lives of Israel’s firstborn children in Egypt and freed the Hebrews from slavery. Reminded the people of God’s deliverance. 4. Unleavened Bread - Lev 23:6-8. Seven Days. Celebrated the Exodus from Egypt. Reminded the people the were leaving the old life behind and entering a new way of life. 5. First Harvest - Lev 23:9-14. One Day. Celebrated the first crops of the barley harvest. Reminded the people how God provided for them. 6. Harvest or Pentecost - Lev 23:15-22. One Day. Celebrated the end of the barley harvest and beginning of the wheat harvest. Gave the people an opportunity to thank God and throw a party over the harvest. 7. Trumpets - Lev. 23:23-25. One Day. Celebrated the beginning of the civil new year. Expressed joy and thanksgiving to God for the past year. 8. Day of Atonement - Lev 23:26-32 One day. Celebrated the removal of sin from the people and the nation. Provided restored fellowship with God.

9. Shelters - Lev 23:33-43. Seven Days. Celebrated God’s protection and guidance in the wilderness. Served as a time for people to renew their commitment to God and their trust in His guidance and protection. These celebrations formed the story of the peoples lives and provided a foretaste of what was to come in Christ. There were other occasions for celebration in scripture and we know from the New Testament that weddings were often week long celebrations which required back up stores of wine and food. The whole town would be invited to celebrate the new life of the couple. Jesus often used these festivals and times of celebration to reveal Himself. It was actually at one such wedding celebration that Jesus did His first miracle by saving the host from great embarrassment and turning six stone water jars full of water into wine after they had run out. One of the jars would have held 20-30 gallons of water, so 180 gallons of wine was needed to close out this celebration! That was one big party! It was the Festival of Shelters or Booths that Jesus used as the backdrop of several big reveals about Himself. This was a 7-day party, which celebrated God’s protection and guidance of the Israelites during their flight to the wilderness. And by all accounts this was an awesome, Mardis Gras like celebration. The Roman Historian Josephus referred to this festival as the greatest of the Hebrew celebrations. Living Water. The event climaxed with a water event at the pool of Siloam. The people would parade, with loud music, from the Temple to the pool where the priest would fill up a pitcher with water. They would then parade back to the Temple, approach the altar and pour the water along with a pitcher of wine into two basins as a thank offering to the Lord for his provision. An ancient Rabbi wrote that "Anyone who has not seen this water ceremony has never seen rejoicing in his life." It was either at the pool or at the temple pouring ceremony that John 7:37-38 tells us, “Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of Living Water will flow from his heart.’” The Light of the World. On the first day of the Festival, the Temple was illuminated with a huge candelabras that stood 75 feet tall, with 16 large blazes that burned throughout the week. This was to celebrate the Pillar of Light that God provided for the people during the wilderness wanderings. Since the Temple was on a hill, everyone could see the light from miles around. During the lighting there would have been loud music, dancing, and parades. It was this setting that most likely played backdrop to Jesus‘ statement in John

8:12, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Matthew’s Table. But maybe most instructive for us as Christians, is Jesus’ unscripted parties. The New Testament tells us that after and encounter with Jesus, Matthew, a wealthy Tax Collector turned disciple, threw a party and invited all his friends to meet Jesus (see Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17, Luke 5:27-32). And evidently this group would not have been invited to today’s church social. The religious leader actually called them “scum” (Mark 2:16) and Matthew himself calls them “disreputable sinners” (Matthew 9:10). It seems that part of Jesus‘ plan for reaching people was to go where they were, meet them as they are, and be Himself. To practice “active proximity” to those who needed to hear His Good News the most. Alan Hirsch in his great book Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship quips, “not only did the social outcasts and sinners want to be around Jesus, but Jesus wanted to be around them.” When we’re seeking to be like Jesus, we’ll be looking for opportunities to reveal Him to the world. Celebration is still one great way. In our day there are still many opportunities. Here’s a few ideas: • Invite friends to a community celebration around a holiday. Take time to share with individuals or the group how this holiday helps you worship or makes you grateful to God. • Organize a team to volunteer at a community festival and be available to the nonprofit or municipality putting it on. Intentionally build relationships. • Throw a party in your front yard or back yard and invite neighbors who you don’t know. • Have people over to dinner. Begin a Matthew’s Table night where you share your home and your table with people that you know who need a second chance or could never hang out at the church socials. God wants to reveal Himself. He wants to use you. He used celebration in the past and he can today. And who knows how many of those “disreputable sinners” around Matthew’s table became followers of Christ and Church Planters that gathered at festivals and around tables and continued the Jesus story for the rest of their lives. Imagine the possibilities...

How To’s: Tips For Block Partying by Evan McGinty Throwing parties is not only fun but is an opportunity for us to invite, invest in, and enjoy our friends and neighbors in a casual and welcoming atmosphere.

Step 1: Prepare for the party ✓ Pray. Ask God to grant you courage and

confidence as you seek to create new relationships, and provide a welcoming atmosphere for all your neighbors. ✓ Reserve the Block Party Trailer. Talk to Lane or Evan about what equipment you will need for your party, and reserve your spot on the calendar. ✓ Get approval for the party. If your neighborhood has a Homeowner's Association check with them to see what the rules and regulations are for throwing a party. If your party has the potential to be loud (for example, movie-night on the big screen), check with your immediate neighbors to see if they will be bothered by the noise. ✓ Plan the party. Decide what type of party you want to throw, (ex= movie night, bounce house/games, water slide, holiday theme,VBS) as well as a date, time, and location. ✓ Advertise. Make signs to put at the entrance of your neighborhood at least one week in advance advertising the party - list the date, time, address, and what you’ll be doing. ✓ Invite your neighbors. Drop by your neighbor’s house and tell them about the party. Go to the bus stop in the morning and tell all the parents/kids about the party. ✓ Gather the supplies you will need. Make sure you have more than enough plates/cups/napkins, snacks, drinks, and anything else you may need.

Step 2: Throw the party ✓ Set

up the equipment. Most of the time it takes at least 1 hour to

set-up for Block Parties, so give yourself plenty of time to get this done BEFORE neighbors start showing up. ✓ Avoid awkward silence. Always make sure to have a radio on playing music. Music encourages a fun and casual atmosphere. ✓ Be a part of the party. Don’t just stand there and hand out hotdogs, step out and engage with the people in attendance. Talk, play games, HAVE FUN! ✓ Be intentional about your conversations. Look for opportunities to share the gospel. Invite neighbors back to your house for a Bible study. Ask your neighbors how you can be praying for them.

Step 3: Recover from the party ✓ Clean

up - Look in the street and your neighbor’s yard for trash that may

have blown away or been “accidentally” dropped during the party. If you used the Block Party Trailer, return the equipment back to its proper location, and make note of any missing/damaged equipment. ✓ Remember names - It may help if you write down the names of some of the new neighbors you met, so you don’t forget them. You may even consider finding them on Facebook and friending them. ✓ Bake cookies - Bake cookies later in the week to take to first-time guests as a way of saying thank you for coming to the party, and it was nice to meet you. ✓ Pray - Pray that God would begin to create strong friendships amongst you and your neighbors. Ask God for the courage to share the gospel with your new friends. ✓ Start planning - Begin planning your next party. Throw so many parties that your neighbors start to think of your house as the place to be on the weekends.

The Bridge Church Block Party Trailer “You might be a Bridger if you enjoy throwing parties for other people” ~ E-Van. The Bridge Block Party Trailer is a tool for those of living In Christ, On Mission, 4 Others to intentionally cultivate relationships & be responsive to our community. It is available free for any occasion where relationships can be formed including Birthday Parties, Neighborhood Outreach, Local Festival Outreach, or any way for us to be of service to our community.

What’s in it?

✓ 15 x 15 Inflatable ✓ Ice Chests ✓ Snow Cone Machine ✓ Popcorn Machine ✓ Outdoor Sound System ✓ Outdoor Movie Screen ✓ Assortment of games ✓ Assortment of Extension Cords ✓ Assortment of signs ✓ Everything you need to connect with neighbors, community events, family & friends, etc.

Other things you might need:

‣ Power Source or Generator ‣ Snow Cone Syrup ‣ Food, Candy, Ice ‣ Grill, Boiling Pots ‣ Bridge Church Invites ‣ Small Group Bible Study Invites ‣ A few friends to help with setup ‣ Registration cards or sign in sheet to get info for following up ‣ Door prizes

Reser ving the Bridge Block Party Trailer: The Bridge Block Party Trailer is available for Bridge Partners, Community Leaders, & any other On Mission Christians. 1. Check the Calendar to see if it’s available. 2. Log into & follow the link to the Registration Form. We’ll then contact you to complete your Reservation. 3. Plan Your Event. Utilizing the How To’s on the previous page. 4. Pick up the Trailer at the West St. Tammany YMCA, 71256 Francis Rd., Covington, LA. 5. Throw a Great Party! 6. Return the Trailer to the West St. Tammany YMCA. 7. Consider a Donation to the Bridge Church Equipment Fund. 8. Follow-up with new people you met. Contact if you need hard copies of the Bridge Calendar or the Block Party Trailer Registration Forms.

First Person: One Bridgers Testimony of Reaching People through Block Parties

Incarnational Living: Block Party by Angie McGinty Originally posted at Since I have been at Bridge church, my views on church have changed a lot. Like, what church looks like, what my role is in church etc. One of the biggest changes has forced me to look at myself and say, "Am I just attending church, or am I BEING the church?" A few years ago, I went through an AMAZING study with a group of fellow Bridgers called "The Tangible Kingdom." It was an eye opener for sure and made me really rethink my way of thinking about others and how much I value or don't value other people. We are going through the study again this year and I am continuing to learn more and reassess how I live my life (not on just Sundays but EVERYDAY). I had to question if I was being intentional about loving others, because honestly, most of us know, if we are not intentional, we aren't that great at truly loving others (especially those who are not like us). One thing that the book talks about is something called "Incarnational Living". Incarnational means "to take on flesh." Missional means "to go." So, Incarnational is about how you go and what you see as you go. It encompasses your posture, your tone, your motives, and your heart. It is critical because it will eventually determine whether or not people will want to know you or your God. I have been very blessed to be part of a very Incarnational church. A church who literally takes on the flesh of Christ. Rather than waiting for people to come to our church, we bring "church" to them. Basically, we just try to show love and help others, especially those who may not get it otherwise, therefore sharing the gospel through our actions, not just our words. There are 3 couples in our neighborhood (us included), who have decided to really be incarnational/intentional in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is a mix of different people from different backgrounds and income levels. It's not exactly the kind of neighborhood where you know your neighbors very well and everyone is definitely not getting together for social events. With that being said, we felt a real need to get to

know and show love to those who are just beyond our doors. Sometimes it's harder to do that, than it is to go far away and share love with those you may never see again. It means allowing people to see you, get to know you and get involved in your life and viceversa. It can get messy, especially when they can come knock on your door anytime. The 3 couples decided that we would start throwing neighborhood block parties as a way to build relationships with those around us and just love on people. We started last year in the Fall doing Outdoor Movie Nights. Our first one was a small turn out. We were not surprised as many people around here questioned what our motives were and had never attended something like that in this kind of neighborhood. We had lots of cars drive by slow out of curiosity. By the next movie night, we had LOTS of neighbors, especially kids. The lawn was packed. This past weekend we threw our 4th Block party in the neighborhood with hot dogs, chips, popsicles and an inflatable water slide. I was BLOWN away by the turn out! Within a 2 hour period we had over 50 people show up. There were kids coming out of the wood work from every direction. We were able to meet lots of neighbors, several who were repeats, lots who came for the first time and even a few who just moved here and said they were excited to come down and hang out. People were thanking us for doing this. It was a GREAT day to just get to hang out and get to know those around us and do something fun for them. The truth is, at the core of every one of us, is the need to be loved and accepted, and hey, have some fun! Once people realized that we had no alterior motive, (we are not trying to get them to come to our church or sell them on anything..we just want to love on them) they completely opened up and came down to share their lives with us over a hot dog and a water slide, on a hot day. There were lots of different people there from all walks of life. There was even a lady who came, who is known as the "sketchy" neighbor. She literally has an 8 foot fence built all around her property to keep people out. Our first block party, she sat in her driveway across the street to watch the movie. This time, she was at the party, making conversation with her neighbors. It was really neat to watch. We are doing the block parties once a month and hoping that over time they will continue to grow and good solid relationships will be formed between neighbors. I think sometimes as Christians, we are so excited about telling people about Jesus (which don't get me wrong, we should be), that we forget that we need to love people, build relationships and earn their trust sometimes first. That's when people are more likely to

come to know Christ, when they can "see" it in you, not just hear you talk about it. I write this not to say, "oh look at me, what a good little Christian," but to challenge you and myself to ask ourselves if we  are living an incarnational life? Are we taking on the flesh of Christ daily, even when it is inconvenient with our time schedule. Are we missing opportunities that could be used to show other's love? Jesus didn't always wait for people to come to him, He went to them, especially when they couldn't go to him. He loved on and hung out with the people that no one else would. He didn't care if others thought less of him because of it. I have to question myself daily if I am "putting on the flesh of Christ." A block party is just a start to incarnational living for me. It's a planned event, a little easier. The real challenge comes when you are just "on the way" of life.  Will I make it a point to go out of my way for others in the little opportunities that come along, or will I let them pass me by? I continue to be challenged in this, but on those occasions when I do rise up to meet that a difference it makes! Here are a few tangible and easy ways to show others love: -Bring baked goods to a neighbor for no reason or to police and fire departments to say thank you. -visit an old folks home (most of those people don't get visitors) -pay for someone else's: coffee, meal, etc and do it anonymously (like the car behind you or the table across the room) -cook a meal for someone who could use a break or help -use your talents: our church has built lots of wheelchair ramps for elderly people who can't afford it. -babysit for someone free of charge and offer to do it -leave an AMAZING over the top tip for your server -write a kind note to someone Those are just a few ideas...there are soooo many opportunities to give of ourselves EVERY day, it's just a matter of DOING IT!

25 Simple Ways to Be Missional in Your Neighborhood by Josh Reeves 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

Stay outside in the front yard longer while watering the yard Walk your dog regularly around the same time in your neighborhood Sit on the front porch and let kids play in the front yard Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.) Invite neighbors over for dinner Attend and participate in HOA functions Attend the parties invited to by neighbors Do a food drive or coat drive in winter and get neighbors involved Have a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside) Art swap night – bring out what you’re tired of and trade with neighbors Grow a garden and give out extra produce to neighbors Have an Easter egg hunt on your block and invite neighbors use their front yards Start a weekly open meal night in your home Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute Create a block/ street email and phone contact list for safety Host a sports game watching party Host a coffee and dessert night Organize and host a ladies artistic creation night Organize a tasting tour on your street (everyone sets up food and table on front porch) Host a movie night and discussion afterwards Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas Volunteer to coach a local little league sports team Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

from the E-Pub Simple Ways to Be Missional by Josh Reeves, Tim Chester, and Jonathan Dodson. Download the entire Ebook at Includes 136 Ideas of how to be missional & engage the community.

Other Good Resources for On Mission Living: ‣ The Tangible Kingdom Primer by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. ‣ Right Here Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People by Lance Ford and Alan Hirsch ‣ 101 Ways to Reach Your Community by Steve Sjogren ‣ Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren ‣ Missional Communities by Reggie McNeal ‣ Live Sent by Jason Dukes ‣ Outreach Magazine ‣ The Externally Focused Church by Eric Swanson ‣ Transformation by Bob Roberts ‣ Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker (also check out the Barefoot Church Primer)

PO Box 1336 Madisonville, LA 70447 985.373.2748