A Small Church, a Small Town, and a Big Show!
It was five years ago that my family and I came to Fellowship Bible Church in New Hamburg. We quickly learned that our small church of less than 50 people and our small town were similar to many other small churches and small towns in Southern / Central Ontario—yet we were also unique. Early on in our ministry I recall meeting with our then Evangelism Coordinator, Dave Drabiuk, and FEB Central’s church planting director, Tom Haines, to discuss community outreach. At that meeting Tom challenged us to learn more about our town before coming up with evangelistic strategies. As Dave and I learned more about the town, we learned that New Hamburg was the host for a number of regional, provincial, and national events.
Moparfest and FBC…In the Beginning
I honestly can’t recall whose idea it was, but we quickly saw that Moparfest was an activity we should get involved in. If you are not familiar with Moparfest, it's the largest Mopar car show in Canada, with over 16,000 classic cars and approximately 20,000 spectators. That’s a lot of people traveling to a town with a population of less than 10,000.
When we contacted the Moparfest organizers and expressed our desire to be a part of the show, there was a bit of reluctance on their part. But once we explained our goal and our willingness to serve the children that attend the show, they gladly allowed us to set up a booth in a very visible area.
Go MAD at Mopar
For the first few years, our involvement in Mopar was a success. We interacted well with the community by providing free face painting, running children’s games (the fan belt toss was a big success), and handed out hundreds of Bibles. Even though we felt good about our involvement, we failed to see any tangible benefit to our efforts. However, this all changed in the summer of 2015 with the help of Go MAD. Go MAD (“Go Make a Difference”) was a team from Fairview Baptist Church in Lindsay, ON, led by Pastor Vic Gayed. Pastor Vic and his team agreed to help us with Mopar. They also offered to run a soccer camp and throw a block party the week after the car show. Now we had a key event to promote at the show—and it worked. A volunteer at Mopar invited a young family with four children to come to our soccer camp, and they came. While at the soccer camp, a volunteer invited this family to come to our block party, and they came. At the block party another volunteer invited them to come to church, and—you guessed it—they came! By the grace of God this family now attends our church regularly. Several of them have come to Christ, the mother has been baptized, and they recently approached me about becoming members of our church.
Being Small… But Trying to Think Big
I guess the moral of the story is to remember that just because you are small doesn’t mean you can’t "think big". That being said, major outreach efforts like this require resources in order to be successfully managed, which can prove to be quite a stretch for a small church. But God has been very gracious to us by allowing us to learn a little bit more about serving our community. For us as a church, the concept of serving at Mopar has inspired similar community-based outreach initiatives such as community gardens, parades, playgrounds, VBS, and soccer camps. So, Lord willing, we hope to see you at Moparfest 2016!