Ontario Church Uses Workshops to Draw Community

The Reach Team at First Christian Reformed Church in Sarnia, Ontario, recently hosted a series of workshops designed to draw people who might not otherwise come to church. Some people are apprehensive about entering a church building, said John DeGroot. “[We hoped] we might be successful in getting folks to cross the threshold. It worked.”

John DeGroot paints a milagro for a community art project.

The church offered thirteen workshops, advertised locally, ranging from photography to Italian cooking to fostering and adopting children to loving your Muslim neighbor. The sessions brought together church members and neighbors—in some cases, in a 60/40 ratio. It was encouraging, because, as organizer Linda Weening pointed out, “To reach [people] with the gospel, we need to meet them.”

Matt and Danielle, a young couple who attended the fostering and adoption session, appreciated the evening. “It answered a lot of our questions,” said Danielle. In another session, Toni painted a milagro—a sort of visual prayer—to add to a community art project. On a small piece of old brick, she painted a house in the sunshine, a prayer for homeless people in the community.

Organizers were happy with the response, both from church members and from the wider community. “It’s our first year, and I would say it was a success,” said Weening. “Especially from nonmembers, the evaluations have been very positive.”

DeGroot agreed, “It’s something to build on.” A key to the success, according to DeGroot, was that the workshops were “cheap and cheerful,” and didn’t demand long-term commitment.

“Folks come in and pay their two ‘toonies’ [$4], then sit down for only an hour,” said DeGroot. “At the end, they go home smarter. . . . It’s that simple.”

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