Success in Shelbyville: Families Flock to First Church for Touch-a-Truck Event

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Great Lakes, Loving and Serving

By Carl Stagner

Outside of Indiana, the small city of Shelbyville may not be the most well-known among communities. But within its city limits and throughout Shelby County, folks are very familiar with First Church of God. In large part, that’s because families flock to the church lot annually for what’s become known as “Touch a Truck.” The event, especially geared toward children, provides unique and safe family fun throughout which the witness of the gospel is especially strong.

Shelbyville First Church of God first held the event about five years ago. Since then, the only year they didn’t host Touch a Truck was during the pandemic. The event originally stemmed from an idea the pastor had after experiencing a similar event at another church. “We liked the simplicity of it,” Pastor Bryan Justice remembers, “and that they were having a very good turnout.” Though this year’s event saw slightly lower attendance due to the threat of rain, Pastor Bryan reports a successful event.

Trucks (and helicopter) at this year’s event.

How does Shelbyville First Church of God define an event’s success? Besides being a helpful reminder to the community that they exist, seeds were planted with each family coming on the property, many were prayed for right there on the spot, and most heard about the opportunities to visit. For Pastor Bryan, it’s less about getting the community to come to them, as they recognize they, as a church and individuals, are an integral part of the community, by definition.

“Number one,” Bryan explains, “I feel we are the community. A part of the community. We always want to have an open-door philosophy to show the community that you are welcome here. We take John 3:17 and expound upon it, making sure that our youth group, Bible studies, and church services are promoted. We offer prayer for people, showing that we care about them and we love them because God loves them.”

Bounce houses at the Touch a Truck event 2023.

The blueprint for the event is strikingly simple. First Church of God began by inviting various civic departments and services to show up to advertise what they offer, mingle with the community and, most importantly, allow families to touch and climb inside their specialty truck. Among the vehicles fascinating children of all ages were a fire truck, cement mixer, school bus, combine, tractors, and even a helicopter. Each vendor agrees ahead of time to allow children to get in the front seat, honk the horn, and grab the steering wheel; generally, venders offer no qualm about such an accommodation. Six hundred people attended their first year—with an estimated one thousand people attending more recent events. Food trucks also set up shop to sell food, while a petting zoo and bounce houses round out the event’s broad appeal to children and their parents.

“This thing’s getting bigger every year,” Pastor Bryan explains. “The wonderful thing we found out is the setup and tear down is phenomenally easy. People just bring it and pick it up…. Everybody donates just to do something good for the community.”

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” —Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Learn more about the Church of God movement at

Feature (top) photo: stock image file.

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