By Sharon Mager, BaptistLIFE Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Get your motor running! It’s car show time and churches are revin’ up and raring to go with this popular community outreach. Most shows include classic cars, bikes, food, children’s games, trophies, face painting, door prizes and even some very popular “burn out” contests. But the primary objective is to build relationships and share the Gospel.
Dunkirk Baptist Church (DBC) had its eighth annual car show on Father’s Day. Over 250 vehicles were registered and over 2,000 people attended. There were two known professions of faith, 480 pounds of food collected for a local food pantry and over $400 in funds for the pantry.
Though the church was drawing crowds, Rick Hancock, pastor of DBC, said the church wanted to become more intentional. They took a year off recently to re-evaluate their plans and tweak a bit to be strategic in sharing the Gospel of Jesus.
It began with preparing the church for evangelism. In the early months of the year, Hancock began preaching about evangelism and Sunday school time was used to teach personal evangelism. Church members were equipped.
“Rather than having 20 to 25 people ready to share, the entire church was ready. There were lots of people engaging in spiritual conversations,” Hancock said.
The event began with an outdoor worship service. Hancock preached from the top of a trailer. Not all of the classic car owners would leave their cars, so sermon notes were distributed. Gregg Hunter, a chalk artist, shared the Gospel through a special chalk presentation. The church’s praise band played through the day and individuals shared personal testimonies.
Visitors also received “goodie bags” at registration that included Gospel tracks.
The food collection was new this year and it was a hit. Hancock said the church did not want to accept donations, but people wanted to give, so they decided to accept non-perishables and cash donations for the local food pantry. Hancock said the pantry personnel were thrilled and even said the timing was perfect since the food was running low. The church plans to expand the food collection next year.
The car show has had lasting impact at the church and in the community.
“The amazing thing is, no matter where go, people say they appreciate the car shows. I get calls from funeral homes,” Hancock said. People will go to the funeral home and not have clergy representation but then they remember the church from the car show and people ask for him.
Iron Hill Community Church has an annual Father’s Day car and bike show. They usually draw about 500 people, but this year there were over 200 vehicles registered and 800 visitors.
“We served 500 hotdogs and 300 pulled pork sandwiches. It was unbelievable,” John Willis, pastor of Iron Hill said.
Willis said Iron Hill has also been working on intentionality in their outreach. Though they have seen some people come to Christ, Willis said for most people it’s a “‘hi’ and ‘bye.’”
This year, Willis said members spent more time talking with people, getting to know them, asking about family members—building bridges. “There were many more conversations,” Willis said.
A big plus this year, Willis said, was church attender and disc jockey Ed Teodozow’s contribution. Willis said Teodozow provided disc jockey services throughout the show, lending an air of professionalism.
Willis laughed and said adding pulled pork to the menu also helped. It was a big hit. It’s easier to chat and get to know people when they’re relaxed and enjoying good food,
Severna Park Baptist Church is preparing for their seventh annual car show and chicken barbecue on June 28.
The event draws over 200 each year, filling the church lot. The show is free with a small charge for the food.
Scott Murphy, a car enthusiast and owner of a teal 68 Camero, said the show is a great way to meet people, get to know them and let them know what the church offers. Murphy said car lovers enjoy talking about their cars. Eating good food and chatting about classic cars is a natural bridge, he said.
Free admission is also a great draw, Murphy said.
“I’m a car guy personally. If I’ve got a chance to pay $20 to get in or get in free, I’m going to take the free one,” Murphy said.
Dave Brown, pastor of Severna Park Baptist Church, said the church creates a family friendly atmosphere with moonbounces and face painting for the children. The event is a free summer day of fun and people “step foot on church grounds” in a non-threatening environment. The church wants to bless their community and they’re praising God for the opportunities He provides.