Novel Outreach Brings New Faces

Note from Ron Myer: When I met with the leadership team of Perry Hall Family Worship Center, we asked ourselves the question, “How does the individual in the third floor condo find out about our church family and even more importantly, Jesus Christ?” Out of the dialog around that question, a number of things were discussed and implemented, and this event came out of subsequent discussions. Dominic and his team think in terms of making people feel comfortable to come into their church family environment and do it by first inviting them into a non-church event to bridge the gap of experience. They do it well and the results attribute to their effectiveness.  

Why did Perry Hall Family Worship Center, a DOVE church in Maryland, tell the community to bring trash to its church property?

The idea popped into Christiana Correlli’s head while listening to newscasts during the COVID pandemic. She heard that people were decluttering closets, basements, and garages and dropping off unusable items at charitable organizations that accept donations to resell. Inundated, these places pleaded with people to stop donating so much junk. But what do you do with a broken chair that the weekly garbage pickups decline?

Christiana, and her husband, John, have evangelistic hearts and are always looking for ways to connect with the community. They decided that was one way the church could help. With a team they planned a fun outdoor event for May 22 and encouraged the community to bring unusable items to fill two large dumpsters the church had set up on its property. Knowing the dumpsters would only appeal to a select crowd, the church outreach team added events to attract as many community residents as possible.

Using funds from the church outreach budget, the outreach committee rented a tandem axle dump truck filled with mulch and offered free bags to attendees. The committee had collected food items and gave away bags of food for free. Events for children always draw a crowd, so a balloonist came and formed balloon animals. Attendees also received free Kona Ice, the popular shaved ice boosted with antioxidants.

Getting the Community Involved

The church also partnered with some local businesses and invited local police and the fire department to participate. The police offered photos and prizes to kids and allowed them to sit in police cars. A local politician is spearheading a push for Maryland constituents to keep their communities clean. Consequently, the church event was tagged as one way to help keep the community clean.

Information about the church was available at one station and another station offered prayer for anyone interested. Although the event was not designed to be overtly evangelistic, two people who visited accepted the Lord!

“This was a win and well worth the time and money,” Christiana reports. “Evangelism is in our hearts. We saw so many new faces we had never seen before. The first thing is to get them acquainted with the church. We believe if they like it, they will come.”

In addition to word of mouth, the event was advertised with Facebook ads and printed flyers passed out at local daycare centers. “Always be innovative,” Christiana advises people who want to sponsor events. “Be open to spur-of-the-moment opportunities.” For example, when they noticed a baseball team practicing on school grounds next to the church during the event, a committee spokesperson invited the team and spectators to come for free Kona Ice. About 30 people came from that group who would not have attended otherwise. The crowd swelled to about 500 from a combination of good weather and people eager to get out and do something after the COVID restrictions lifted.

How It All Began

Christiana’s father-in-law, Dominic, founded the church 20 years ago. He said the Lord spoke to him on Easter night 2001 about starting a contemporary seeker-friendly church. Connecting with DOVE, the church started in Dominic’s garage and later moved to his basement. In 2011 the church purchased property and erected a facility. The church remains true to its seeker-friendly mission and is always looking for novel ways to introduce Jesus to the middle to upper-class suburban neighborhood.

An ongoing community event happens every Thursday when a food truck sets up in the church parking lot. The community flock to this weekly event to purchase food. Although the church does not receive any monetary compensations from the food trucks, Christiana said that it gets people used to coming on church property and helps connect them with church members who mingle in the crowd.

During COVID restrictions, the church conducted outdoor services while maintaining social distances and mask wearing. Several people attended the outdoor services for the first time and continue to attend the church’s indoor services.

“We try to find the needs of the community and meet them by using our resources through the love of Jesus Christ,” says Christiana, who is always looking to spearhead unique events to form connections.

FREE church planting resources here