Dwight Smith has always had an affinity for classic cars, which when showcased on a summer’s night tend to bring people together.
So when Dearborn (Mich.) Christian Fellowship, a Christian Reformed congregation, was looking for ways to reach out to the surrounding neighborhood, Smith—a church member who spent 40 years working for the Ford Motor Company—figured a monthly car show would go a long way toward bringing people in.
Five years later, the church’s Cruiz-In remains an effective ministry tool, even if visitors think they’re coming to just another summer car show where they’ll find classic Mustangs, showpiece Porsches, and just about everything in between.
“It’s been fun to reach out to our neighbors,” Smith said. “We’re just out to have a good time, to say, ‘this place is welcoming—we want to have you here.’”
Smith and the church’s community outreach director, Dale Werth, have seen the monthly showcase grow—often attracting a new collection of car enthusiasts each month. They advertise the Cruiz-in in different classic car periodicals, and are always prepared to tell car owners about the church’s mission in Dearborn if people ask.
But if people don’t inquire about the church, that’s fine, too. The ministry is more about kindness than about trying to recruit Sunday morning visitors.
“Once they get here, they’ll see signs that we have a Christian school here and that we have [Vacation Bible School], so they can see what the church is all about and what’s going on here,” Smith said. “But for the most part, we just want this to be a fun neighborhood event.”
About the Author
Jeff Arnold is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classes Kalamazoo and Lake Erie.