An August carnival held by Encounter Church in Kentwood, Mich., drew 2,500 guests, including members of the local media and government. The carnival included rides and games plus a bounce house and inflatable slide. The church gave away free massages, autographed children’s books, and a $500 gift card to a local tire store.
The event was held on National Night Out, a date promoted across the United States for raising crime prevention awareness and meeting neighbors.
Rev. Dirk VanEyk, pastor at the church, explained, “National Night Out is a way for people to get to know their local police and fire officials.” The mayor of Kentwood, the chief of police, and many city commissioners attended. A local Christian radio station promoted and covered the event.
Encounter Church is a church plant supported by Brookside Christian Reformed Church and Classis Thornapple Valley (a regional group of churches). Encounter used the event to promote its official launch in October.
“God calls us to get out and get to know people,” said VanEyk. “We are about connecting people, and ultimately, it’s about connecting people to God.”
About 70 volunteers, including Tessa Vroegop, helped out at the event. “I felt like this was a perfect opportunity for Encounter to reach out to the community to show what they are all about,” said Vroegop.
Encounter promoted the event in several different ways. A local movie theater distributed flyers after movies and an airplane flew over the community with a banner advertising the event.
KC VandeStreek enjoyed the event. “I loved just walking around and seeing so many people, especially the looks on the kids’ faces,” she said.
Although the event primarily promoted the church’s launch date two months in the future, Van Eyk noticed a few new families at the church’s next service.