One of the things that we value at The Church at Blue Ridge (TCBR) is missional community. As we pray and strategize for how the Lord would have us reach the people of Blue Ridge, we are convinced that any effort must include the creation of community that is missional in scope and purpose. In fact, one of the things that our target area lacks is a defined center, like a downtown area or something of the sort. Therefore, in addition to our efforts to reach the public schools and provide biblical counseling, we are also looking to create community as a church and then invite people to join us. Before sharing an example of such an effort, it is important for me to also address the issue of “motivation.” We are convinced as a leadership team, that in order for any missional community effort to be successful, we have to make sure that our motives are biblical and God-honoring. What I mean by that is, as we create community and then invite people to join us, we need to be motivated by God’s glory and not numbers, thus seeing people as an end in themselves and not a means to an end.
Earlier this summer one of our families moved into a cul-de-sac where two of our members already lived, right in the heart of Blue Ridge. It dawned on us that this would be the perfect subdivision to have our first block party. So, we came up with a plan that included borrowing our association’s party trailer and that involved all three of our missional community groups. Our desire was essentially to have a party as a church and invite their neighbors to join in with us. We planned for two months, and prayed that the Lord would use this occasion for his glory and help us to connect with residents of the neighborhood. By having all three of the community groups involved, the responsibilities were distributed evenly and the entire launch team was able to be involved. In addition, the three members who live in this subdivision went door to door and invited everyone to join us on Saturday, July 29th.
To be honest, we were not sure how this would turn out, or if anyone would even show up. But to our delight, several families from the neighborhood attended and all of our church members did an outstanding job with their responsibilities. This resulted in our very first block party being a huge success! Our people also did a great job mingling with the neighbors and even had a few gospel conversations. Many questions were asked and answered about our church’s mission and location. The most interesting part of the evening for me was seeing neighbors meet and get to know each other for the very first time, despite living a few doors down for years. Essentially, we had a big party and invited the members of this neighborhood to join us, both in terms of getting to know our gospel community, and also by creating some community amongst themselves. While we kept our motivations missional, as opposed to simply attractional, we still thought it worthwhile to collect email addresses by way of a door prize raffle, so that we can follow up with our new friends. All in all, it was a great first attempt at having a block party, and the first of many attempts at establishing missional community in Blue Ridge.