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Why Cars Under The Stars 2 Is So Important

October 18, 2012

For the past 16 months, I have had something on my mind. It has nagged at me and bothered me to no end. The questions comes from a variety of sources, but I will cut to the chase. How is Trinity being missional in the neighborhood we are planted in? We are a church that does a wonderful job of being missional on a global level…we give large amounts of money to worldwide missions, go on several short term trips every year, and even send our own out on longer term appointments to spread the gospel to the world.

What I have seen lacking, however, is the day to day mission of Trinity in reaching and being a blessing to our local neighbors. Writing a check to Peru Mission can seem easy compared to engaging your neighbors with the Gospel in a loving, kind, persistent, and (at times) confrontational way. We can get caught in the trap of thinking of “those missionaries” all the while missing the point that we are called to be missionaries all day long…in our homes, workplaces, and front yards.

In the midst of this nagging feeling, I have observed an explosion in our church’s backyard known as the Townes of North River. Since I have been here we have gained literally hundreds of new neighbors all living about a half mile down the road from the church. Our church is positioned in three ways to make a profound impact on the Towns of North River; physicality, personality, and demographically.

  • To begin with, Trinity is physically the closest church to the Townes. We are even located on property that is considered a part of the Townes. Our church building has physical characteristics both inside and outside that resemble homes built in the Townes. All of these things identify us with the neighborhood…and that is a good thing! When people move into the Townes, they should be able to consider Trinity their church home.
  • The personality of Trinity is one of community and connection. This also is the personality of the Townes. My wife and I had the opportunity to babysit for three days a month ago in the Townes and noticed the remarkable amount of community that exists there. People long for connection with one another and can be seen out walking, playing, and spending time with neighbors. Personality wise, Trinity is nearly an exact match for the values of the Towns. I heard one of our elders say that the Townes is a neighborhood, “…made for ministry.”
  • Finally, the demographics of the Townes match Trinity in nearly every way. By and large, the Townes is made up of families in their 30s and 40s with children. There are some older couples as well, which rounds off the community nicely. At Trinity, the bell curve spikes with families in their 30s and 40s with children. On any given Sunday, about 20% of our congregation is elementary age and younger. Sounds like the demographics of Trinity and the Townes matches up pretty well, huh?

So…what to do with all these nagging feelings? I have always thought the first step to successful evangelism in most American contexts is hospitality. Most American churches skip that step and head straight to debates, mass Gospel presentations, and door to door evangelism while missing Jesus’ go to move of hospitality. Welcome people in, go to them and throw them a party, and show people you can be trusted and that you care about them. We are going to do just that on November 9th.

Last year we hosted Cars Under the Stars at Trinity. It is an outdoor movie night complete with food and a bake off. This year we are moving the event back to Courtney Anna Square in the Townes of North River. We literally are going to come in, throw a neighborhood a party, and ask nothing in return. There will be no gospel presentation, no handing out of tracts, and no gimmicky sales techniques to get people to come to church the following Sunday. We will simply be a blessing to those around us. If the Lord draws some, so be it. If one of us engages in a significant conversation with another family there, so be it. But…we will not be taking metrics of how many “spiritual conversations” were had or how many more people in the pews we have on Sunday. Let’s go, have a great time, and pray that the Lord will be at work as we begin a multi-year project of engaging our neighbors at Trinity.

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