ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The evangelistic block party for years has been one of Southern Baptists’ most effective strategies for community outreach, and the large-scale efforts of Strategic Focus Cities have served to refine the concept even further.
Churches not only are able to make use of tested methods for throwing a great party, but they also don’t even have to worry quite so much about the logistics of handling the rental equipment. Small “block party trailers” are being assembled that include all the games, food equipment, and other attractions considered most effective in helping churches put on a great neighborhood event.
“We call them a block party trailer, but the associations are finding out that they are useful more than just for block parties,” said Tim Knopps, an Oklahoma City-based vocational evangelist who has helped put together several of the units in Las Vegas and Seattle. “They are also useful for Vacation Bible schools, sports camps, church picnics and church outings.”
The concept arose a few years ago, he said, when evangelism leaders began to realize considerable savings by purchasing rather than renting equipment — particularly in Strategic Focus Cities areas where multiple block parties often are held each week during the summer.
“We began to see that most of the block parties started using many of the same materials over and over again,” Knopps said. The common denominators usually included a “moonwalk”-type inflatable ride for the children, popcorn and snow-cone machines, grills for cooking, helium and balloons, a selection of games, a portable sound system, a generator to keep it all running, small tents for shelter, and a number of other related items.
The block party trailer became a one-stop solution for churches, who would simply follow the instructions that came with the unit and focus more of their energy on meeting their neighbors and talking with them about Christ.
The first units began to appear in Illinois, Oklahoma, Indiana and other states, he said. The Oklahoma unit was then used in Phoenix throughout the summer of 2000 as part of the Strategic Focus Cities effort there, and Las Vegas purchased four units as a key component of its strategy. Las Vegas leaders also developed comprehensive training on preparation, implementation and follow-up for a block party, including a comprehensive manual and even a trailer-specific video to streamline the process even further.
Seattle already has kept its unit busy throughout this year, even though the city’s implementation year for Strategic Focus Cities does not officially begin until January. Another unit is planned for next year.
Scotty Smith, a youth minister responsible for delivering the unit to each event in the Seattle area, said one of the most significant things he noticed is how surprised pastors were at how much they could do with the trailer. And how quick they were to start planning their next event.
“You can just put up in the middle of nowhere and have an automatic outreach,” he said. “And it’s pretty effortless. There’s just a ton of possibilities.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: INSTANT BLOCK PARTY.