By Pastor Troy Dorrell
Over my tenure as pastor of Eastland Baptist Church, we have done many creative and innovative things. Each one has been organized and planned with a specific purpose and goal in mind.
A number of years ago, we organized a creative outreach effort one summer called “Family Tract Team,” which involved taking busloads of adults, teens, and children to various neighborhoods for door-to-door canvassing, inviting people to church, and handing out gospel tracts. The innovative part was the pre-meeting skits and fun times, and then we followed the events with a special and unique time of fellowship afterwards. Through this effort we were able to get hundreds of people involved in outreach who had never been before.
Over the years we’ve enjoyed annual “I Love My Church” Sundays, which have to been seen and experienced to be appreciated. This is a day we promote extensively and create a lot of enthusiasm for. During the event itself, we take a special offering in a unique and memorable way for a designated church project. We also take up our Vision/Building offering pledges for the coming year on that day.
Among the other creative things we do outside of our normal church services are a 4th of July fireworks display that attracts a myriad of people and a family ice skating night each December, where we rent an entire ice arena downtown for our church family and guests.
Like many churches we have a fall Festival Day, with a host of carnival and family-friendly games after the morning service, concluding with a giant tent service.
Our church has also highly invested in a drama ministry where special productions on Christmas, Easter, and other occasions involve many of our people in ministry, production, and set up. It is one of our varied outreach efforts to minister to many in our community.
I could go on by telling of other special events and creative ideas we have had used through the years for outreach, ministry, community service, and building the church body. I think all these things have had their place and contribute both directly and indirectly to our purposes. Through some of these events we have not only reached souls or raised money, but we have also built precious, happy fun-filled memories that have endeared the hearts of our people … both young and old alike … to the church and the Lord’s work.
In my opinion, in all these “ideas” we have done no harm or violation to the Scriptures and have been guarded not to develop an expectation of entertainment. We measure these events out with calculation and much thought, endeavoring to consider all of their pros and cons.
With all that said, I think the thing we give the most time and attention to and that has grown our church the most and is appreciated by our people more than all of these things combined is an effort to conduct our church services with excellence. While I am a proponent of the careful use of creativity and memory building I don’t think creativity or special events should ever be a substitute or take away from giving our very best effort each week in how we conduct our services and how we present ourselves to our community.
Of course, want to be authentic, real, spirit-filled and conservative in philosophy, but we also want to do things well, to be “sharp” and on point. We endeavor to do all things to the glory of God and with all of our might and use the best of our abilities in everything we do.
That is reflected in having a service that is planned, discussed, and thought through each week, giving attention to details, transitions, and preparation of everything that is said and done. We expect our music to be thoughtful and well prepared, for our special music to be done with excellence and grace, and for the preaching to be labored over and prayed for.
Since we live in a visual and graphic world we endeavor for our bulletins and all our literature to be done with excellence. We produce new tracts for each season and special event; we make sure they are well done, proofed, and attractive.
We also endeavor to make sure our property is well maintained inside and out, that the facilities are clean and presentable, that things are in good repair and touched up.
It is very important to us that we have well-prepared greeters at the doors, that our nurseries stand out as excellent, and our Sunday School classes have teachers who have prepared both themselves and their classrooms to receive both members and guests.
The point and principle is this: preparation and excellence can look like and even surpass creativity and are better starting points for most of us in trying to build a church. People tend to universally appreciate things done well, and being creative is a bonus.