Kenyan voices rang over the parking lot, children jumped in massive bounce houses, and people ate food from several different cultures. There were tables set up with crafts, activities, and foods from Brazil, Ghana, Korea, China, Nigeria, and Mexico. People from various parts of the globe enjoyed the sights, sounds, and tastes as we celebrated the wonderful diversity represented at Grace Polaris Church and in Columbus, Ohio.
It’s difficult to quantify and, at times, even celebrate an event like this past weekend’s International Fun Fest. There were lots of people from all around Columbus and all around the world in attendance, enjoying the food trucks, the live entertainment, and the bounce houses. However, it’s impossible to determine what the true impact was because most of it is felt more than seen.
I want to share a story from the event that really encouraged me. A young family from Westerville heard about the festival from a mom’s group on Facebook and decided to come check it out. They love food trucks and have a one-year-old child, so it seemed like a good place to spend a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon. They ran into someone from Grace and started a short, but enjoyable, conversation. Immediately they recognized the many things they had in common, so they exchanged contact information and a new friendship was started. The event drew them in, but now they have a new friendship that we pray will open doors for the Gospel and lead them to Christ.
I pray this is only one of many stories to come from the people of Grace utilizing this fun opportunity to begin new relationships or build on existing ones. Christians are called to be witnesses for Jesus in our world, so we must learn to be people who can connect with others in fun and non-threatening ways. It’s in these moments relationships begin and friendships are built that, in time, we pray will lead to Gospel opportunities and new life.
These opportunities may come at backyard cookouts, watching Ohio State football, or enjoying events like the International Fun Fest. Regardless of where these things happen, we must be looking to take advantage of these relational opportunities all around us every day.
When asked about how to plant churches and multiply disciples of Jesus in our increasingly secular culture, David Watson (author of Contagious Disciple Making) answered this way:
We join Parent-Teacher Organizations, coach soccer teams, join local CrossFit boxes. We learn Krav Maga. We do Tough Mudders. We do anything that allows us to engage people who don’t know Jesus in casual conversations that lead to meaningful conversations, that lead to spiritual conversations. When the conversations become spiritual, we invite them to a Discovery Group.
Essentially, David Watson encourages us to do ordinary things with people who are far from Jesus, seeking to intentionally engage with them in conversation and praying for meaningful relationships, for Gospel decisions to result. What are you doing to build these types of relationships? The International Fun Fest was one great opportunity this past weekend, but what are you doing in the coming weeks to engage people in attractive ways for the sake of sharing the Good News?
Dustin Speaks is the Mission Mobilization Pastor. He and his wife, Lauren, arrived in Columbus in the fall of 2012, after several initial ministry experiences. Dustin previously served as an associate pastor in South Dakota and as a missionary to university students in Berlin, Germany. Dustin studied history at Ohio University, where he met Lauren, and was involved in campus ministry with Cru. After graduation, the Speaks went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago) to complete a degree in Intercultural Studies. He enjoys playing nearly all ball sports—basketball, golf, and soccer are his favorites. Dustin and Lauren have three young children.
Pastor Dustin will be leading a Grace Polaris U course this fall called How to Be Attractive: Becoming a Follower of Jesus that People Actually Want to Be Around. If you want to continue exploring this topic together with others, register today!