Indiana Church Celebrates Fruitful Fall Outreach, Looks Ahead to Winter and Spring

 In All Church of God, Change the Story, CHOG, Great Lakes

By Kevin Spear

After a year hiatus, there was no doubt Celebration Church at Arrow Heights in Anderson, Indiana, was ready to relaunch their annual Trunk and Treat event. “It was important because people in our community need fellowship and the opportunity to feel safe,” says lead pastor, Handel Smith.

Handel, who also serves as executive director of US & Canada Strategy for Church of God Ministries, attributes Lisa Porter-Brown, their children’s pastor, to organizing the event. “She is able to engage the church, family, and community to make it happen.” He credits her with ministering out of grief and pain. She lost many loved ones, including her husband, in the last year. But instead of turning inward, she has reached out to her community with the love of Christ.

Trick-or-treaters at the church.

There were a few changes over the past years. They intentionally changed the name to Trunk and Treat Hallelujah Party and held it on October 30 to distance the event from Halloween. It was held outside with sensitivity to COVID protocols. In addition, they had other stations besides decorated trunks with goodies. “We had stations for hot chocolate, s’mores, hot dogs, bingo, basketball, inflatables, and even a family-friendly movie,” says Pastor Smith.

About 250 people participated. As a result, Pastor Smith noticed that families have come to Sunday morning church because of the event. “We believe when we meet the felt needs of the community, it gives people the chance to connect and engage. We need to work together and grow together. As a result, we believe the church needs to become essential.”

The church is brainstorming ways they can serve the community with outdoor live events in the spring, and perhaps the winter as weather allows.

Pastor Smith Suggests the following for anyone wishing to hold a similar outreach event.

  1. Pray: Pray that God gives you a heart for your community and that he moves God’s people from apathy to a passion for their neighborhood.
  2. Collaborate: work with other churches and organizations to meet the needs of the people. Communities need this more than ever.
  3. Generosity: Find ways to give without expecting anything in return. If they can’t come to you, be generous in going to them.
  4. Innovate: Pray for and seek creative ways to engage your community. Churches must see calamities as opportunities. Seize the opportunity for kingdom advancement!

Celebration Church’s Trunk and Treat Hallelujah Celebration is one of many fall outreach events churches across the Movement hosted this year. If your church has a special event you would like us to know about, let us know by filling out this simple form.

Kevin Spear has worked for Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and has regularly contributed time and talent to the work of Church of God Ministries. He is a ministry partner with his wife Paula, a family ministry pastor at Catalyst Church in Pendleton, Indiana.

Feature (top) collage: Children in various costumes (right) get in line for a bounce house at Celebration Church at Arrow Heights on October 30.

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