It has been a few years, but for a long time every fall Faith Church held a Harvest Bazaar. Before that it was called a Christmas Bazaar. Many people in our congregation would cook up a storm in their kitchens, creating delicacies for the bake shop. Others would staff the snack shop, making amazing chicken soup. Still others would be hard at work crafting and donating and volunteering and we would have numerous rooms in our church building filled with items that people could buy as Christmas gifts. And buy they did! We would often raise $2500 or more from the Bazaar. But why would we do this? It was a lot of work!
Our congregation initiated the Bazaar decades ago as a fundraiser to pay off the debt we owed on our building. Eventually we did pay off the debt. I still remember the mortgage burning ceremony. We have had memorable experiences with fire in our sanctuary, such as when the Advent wreath caught fire! But I’m talking about the time when we had paid off the mortgage to the most recent expansion to the building, and we celebrating by burning the mortgage documents in a bowl during a worship service.
Though the mortgage was paid off, we kept having the Bazaar for a number of years. Now we decided that the proceeds of the Bazaar would be directed to the Building Fund and to support missionaries. Both good causes. And yet there was discussion about whether or not we should keep having the Bazaar. Was its purpose completed? People had numerous points of view, both pros and cons. It took a lot of work, and people were getting burned out. So we eventually slowed down our pace to holding the Bazaar every other year. The last time we held a Bazaar was three or four years ago, and we have no plans for another.
At one point there was a suggestion made in favor of continuing the Bazaar saying that the Bazaar was an outreach. How was it an outreach? Well, didn’t it bring people from the community into our building? It did. That is true. Probably hundreds of people in the community would stop in, look over items, eat food, and buy stuff. But just because they came into the building could we say that qualifies as outreach?
We’ve heard this before about the Youth Chicken BBQ we hold every spring. People say that not only does the BBQ raise money for our youth group, it also has an outreach element to it. We’ve heard this about pretty much anything we do that brings people into the building. By holding an event or program for which they walk through the doors of the church building, it is reasoned, we are reaching out to them. We have done this quite a bit over the years: Ballroom Dance Classes, Vacation Bible School, Trunk or Treat, Concerts, Breakfasts and now most recently Summer Lunch Club.
In our recent history this approach is how we have thought about outreach. Is that outreach? What should outreach be? And before we can answer those questions, should we not ask the questions behind the question? Why do we do outreach? Should we do outreach at all? We should have solid reasons for why or how we do outreach before we start outreach. But do we have solid reasons?
Join us at Faith Church this Sunday August 14 as we seek to answer these questions.