The Dellwood Block Party
HOW THIS HAPPENED
Back in May, while jogging through Dellwood Park on several occasions, a vision kept entering my mind. Christian performers singing at the Bandstand - impacting large crowds for the Kingdom. In my quiet time, I asked God for confirmation. "You want ME to plan an event HERE?"
It seemed too complicated and way out of my comfort zone.
But, out of sheer obedience, I posted a video on social media about my vision. From there, I received some validation from other believers but knew that wasn't necessarily God's confirmation... so then I contacted the park district about space/date (expecting the details to NOT work out) and of course... God aligned it all perfectly. And 30 days later, there's awesome progress being made towards fulfilling this vision... A BLOCK PARTY... happening right here at Dellwood Park (Lockport, IL) on September 18th.
God knew I was the person to lead this project WAY before I did. I'm utilizing my past experience to coordinate, communicate, market and fundraise for this event. But I'll admit it's been a challenge remaining "strategic" because us Christians seem to have our own ideas about how things should go sometimes...(LOL!) But God reminds me daily WHY we are planning this block party. To appeal to the LOST (What does that even mean?)... and to somehow, make this event SO MUCH MORE than a free concert for Christians.
WHY GOD WANTS THIS
Because Christ commanded it. We typically refer to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 as our evangelistic and disciples-making command. But there are many other places in the New Testament where the priority of evangelism is clearly evident. Christ commanded it (so we do it).
But what does it mean to "attract the lost" anyway? Allie Everson, a future European missionary, described it profoundly to me over coffee this morning. "It's everyone who hasn't received a clear presentation of the Gospel, and that's way more people than we think."
It's MORE than believing Jesus Christ exists and holding some kind of personal reverence. It's understanding what SALVATION even means and how we get it (because we'll need that later, right?)... but what about RIGHT NOW? That's right. Now's the Time!
Time to let the lost IN on a big secret. That FREEDOM is available to them right now. That time spent in relationship with Him actually restores their brokenness and brings newfound joy and hope to their lives now (and not just later).
And that's why I'm so dang serious about planning a "FUN" family event...and work diligently to pinpoint the best strategies for effectively advertising this event to both believers and non-believers alike. Click for more event details --> Now's the Time.
Despite my uneasiness, God has been clear with His direction. He's been miraculously faithful in connecting all the right people and creating the “right conditions” for obedience. He's confirming our paths as we keep stepping out in faith. It’s been a supernatural experience for everyone involved so far...with the one of the largest confirmations coming from a powerful meeting with Lockport Mayor Steve Streit on June 16th. WOW... is all I can say about that experience. Simply put: Mr. Streit is on FIRE for God. This truth overwhelmed me after leaving his office at city hall. (See the live Facebook video I posted). It's no coincidence that God aligned this meeting...so we could partner together for this upcoming outreach event.
Our next planning meeting is this Saturday, July 9th @ 10am at the park. All interested supporters are welcome. Our outreach team is growing daily. I'm proud to report that over 30 Christians (from 10 different churches) have committed to supporting this project in some shape or form.
THE DEAL WITH UNITY
UNITY is key and critical to the success of this event. I'll be the first to admit that when I first started contacting local churches.. I was discouraged by their lack of response. Out of almost thirty local churches invited, we've only heard back from about ten so far. So my prayers continue. That the concept of interfaith unity (for outreach purposes) stops being such a scary concept for churches. I remain baffled by those who would consider going on a foreign mission trip to impact the lost...but are legit "weirded out" by the concept of a unity block party in their own backyard.
Ok. So assuming we have the unity concept down.. THEN what do we do? I think we use our God-appointed "gifts" to start convincing others we care about that they even NEED Jesus (and not our religion). I don't know about you... but I find myself constantly surrounded by those that think they are "fine" without God. They are sadly deceived by the worldly view of prosperity. For them, church feels like such a colossal waste of time. Some even believe that Hell sounds like a way "funner" place to hang out. If they only knew. So how do we explain the truth? It surely won't be by dragging them to a church service they don't think they need. So that's WHY Dellwood Park. It's neutral ground. Less intimidating. Non-denominational. Not about one church or one religion. It's just about Jesus.
SHARING THE GOSPEL
Nothing about this event should be viewed as a "bait and switch" tactic. It's simply a way to attract new audiences. To let them check out what "church" could really look like for them - in ways that feels more natural to them right now. We envision believers inviting people they love (but know lack personal relationship with God) out to the park hear the Gospel in a creative way. Most of us know someone who's reluctant to step foot inside a church but would be open to coming to the park with his/her kids.
And who doesn't need more of God? Especially those suffering with illness. Those with past trauma. With broken relationships. With addiction. With depression, anxiety, jealousy and/or anger. These topical issues speak to people's hearts and lead them to desire deliverance. And that's why it's hard for me to stay silent around people I know are suffering. There are so many hurting people that have literally NO IDEA that healing is achieved through personal relationship with God.
So yep...we plan to have taco tent and several genres of music to ensure diversity appeal. We've even located a Chicago-based Christian rapper/pastor - but remain in a holding pattern until we receive more capital to “book him". We're looking to present live dramas/skits/human videos portraying the "pain" of real life. We want to spoil the kiddos with amazing FREE festival food and activities. We want to personally pray for those choosing to share their individual needs. And yes, we want to have an altar call at the close of the show. With so many people desperate for truth, I strongly believe God will move the audiences' hearts, minds and souls.
Our goal is to be sensitive to our audience and to establish respect and trust from them..showing them we care about them as individuals and aim to keep things EXTREMELY SIMPLE. This will not be a day to be denominational. Instead, outreach teams will be simply focused on loving people RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE AT... getting to know them a little bit better, ministering to them corporately through the concert performances and possibly individually during the food and festivities.
On September 18th, many souls will be won for the Kingdom at Dellwood Park. This date was selected because it's national BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY. National campaign materials (and videos) exist to empower the local churches to invite the unchurched and de-churched.
My prayer is that many believers will donate both their time and their money to support LOCAL OUTREACH. We are looking to raise $12k to make this event successful (for food and performances). God bless you all for reading my blog and for considering financial support of this mission.