All About Good News Get-Togethers

Andy Rohrback   -  

This article is meant to share the vision and answer questions about Good News Get-Togethers. If you’re already on board with the vision, join us for an info session May 22 at 10:45 in Connect 8/9, and click here to skip to the FAQ!

Good News! Get Together!

These four words alone are already a thrill and a challenge, aren’t they?

We’re all so keenly aware of how much getting together means now. We’ve seen that all the creativity, material comfort, and technology in the world still leaves a gap in us that cries out to be connected with others. The freedom and comfort to be together with others still tastes sweet and special.

Meanwhile, good news is hard to come by. Even a week of “just okay” news would be welcome, right? No matter how you curate your feeds, the past few years have stacked woe upon woe, fear upon fear, and rage upon rage. We’re conditioned to dig for the harsh shadow behind every sunbeam. We’ve been fooled before by “good news” that didn’t end up serving our agenda or delivering on its promise.

But when you turn your eyes from the shuddering world to the names and faces of your neighbors, “good news” feels a little more within reach, and “getting together” sounds like a great idea. The world has shaken or broken our trust in many things we thought would never let us down, but by and large, we can still trust our neighbors. Programs, campaigns and brands don’t move people, but relationships do. We believe this is how the Gospel—God’s “goodest” of good news—will still reach people’s hearts.

In the past, churches have put on giant events—call them rallies, revivals, or Vacation Bible Schools—to bring crowds of people in to hear the message of the Gospel: that God loves everyone on Earth so much, He willingly sacrificed His Son Jesus for our sin, and that Jesus came back from the dead and is still alive today. But today, the vast majority of people who hear and understand that Good News will receive it not from a pulpit or a loudspeaker, but from a friend in a living room. Trust, not seating capacity, is the current that empowers sharing this life-defining truth. Trust is so precious, so difficult to forge, so meaningful to give, that no amount of money or marketing can produce it. Yet we all have access to it.

You have a circle of friends. It may be a wide circle, it may be a close-knit group, but there are people who trust you to be human and authentic with your experiences. They don’t need you to “select every image with a stoplight” to prove that you’re for real. Through those relationships, you can reach people with the hope and forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ. And even though Jesus clearly calls us do this, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenge of talking about Him. In this era of bad news and distrust, this truth is evident: The church as an organization cannot do this work. But the church can, and must, empower its people to do it.

That’s where Good News Get-Togethers come in! We’re developing a grab-and-go kit that will enable you to invite your neighbors to experience the Gospel in a friendly, human, casual setting. You pick the date, the place and the guest list; we provide materials, guidance, ideas and support to put on a Good News Get-Together for your friends and neighbors. The atmosphere is like a birthday party—balloons, games, the whole works—and there’s an accessible Gospel story at the center of it that makes clear who God is, what He’s done, and what He’s up to now.

Doesn’t this sound great? Doesn’t this sound like exactly what your neighborhood, riddled with yard signs and ripped by isolation, really needs?

Join us May 22 at 10:45 in Connect 8/9, during the second worship hour, for an information session to ask questions and get your hands on what’s going into this kit. In the meantime, see if this FAQ answers some of your questions (or inspires more)!

When is the Good News Get-Together?

It’s whenever you want it to be! These pop-up events are designed to be held in neighborhoods all around our area all through the summer. Pick a date that works for you and we’ll help you plan for it. Maybe that’s late May before you go on vacation. Maybe in June when the graduation parties wind down. Maybe in July when the weather’s more predictable. Maybe even August when everyone is back from traveling. Hey, if you want to do one in September, when your calendar is finally stable, we’ll work with you! The idea is to get these set up while the weather is warm enough to gather outdoors. If you really want to do an indoor Get-Together in the fall or winter, talk to us! We can help!

How many Get-Togethers will there be?

It’s up to you! However many hosts we have, that’s how many Get-Togethers we can put on. And that thought makes my throat tighten a little bit, but let me tell you, if we manage to put on SO MANY of these Get-Togethers that we’re scrambling to get all the preparations lined up, I will consider that a win!

My house isn’t that big! Can I still help?

Yes! Since these events are designed for outdoor venues, obviously a backyard is preferred. A neighborhood park or other public space also works well! You can also join forces with another family, or get your connect group involved. Maybe one family provides the space, another brings the treats, and somebody else does the cleanup! These events are flexible, so if you feel inspired to have one, come talk to us and we’ll figure out the logistics together.

What exactly is in this “grab-and-go kit”?

The official list hasn’t been finalized, and we’re looking for your input to fill in the gaps. But it will include a banner, yard signs, invitation cards, craft ideas, game instructions, and assets to post about your event on social media if you want. It’ll have a beautiful storybook which conveys the Gospel story in a colorful, true and relatable way. We have activity plans that help your guests understand and remember the truth of the Gospel. We have prizes to give away. And we have guides to help you follow up with the folks who come to your party to keep the lines of communication and relationship open.

Can we have a puppet show?

OK, so no one has asked this question yet, but someone should! Have you heard of the Praise Puppets? Those guys LOVE bringing the love of Jesus to neighborhood kids, and they are PROS at it! Ask us how you can bring a puppet show to your backyard at no charge! YES!

Wait, do I have to speak in front of people?

Don’t panic! The Gospel presentation here consists of reading a storybook, “The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross.” It’s a colorful, well-written, love-drenched telling of the Gospel in a way kids and adults can relate to. You don’t have to write or give a speech, just read a story! You even get to keep the book after the party—it makes a great bedtime story, trust me. And if reading this book is still daunting, there’s a video version of the story you can show your guests, or we can work out other alternatives. Talk to us and we’ll find ways to clear whatever roadblocks you’re seeing!

How many kids will come?

That’s very dependent on how many you invite! And you can choose the size of your party. Maybe it’s just a few families you know. Maybe you open it up to the neighborhood and plan for several dozen people. These parties scale to fit!

So what exactly are you asking me to do?

While we want to make this as simple and painless as possible for our Get-Together hosts, your energy and personality will definitely be needed to make these happen! Here are the basics of what a host will do:

  • Send out invitations. Make a list of friends, neighbors and family you’d like to share the Good News with. Then address and send (or hand-deliver) invitations to those folks. If you’re planning a big, open event, you can also put up flyers or yard signs to let everyone know.
  • Set the scene. It’s important to make the environment feel like a celebration! We’ll brainstorm with you to decorate a fun, welcoming place to joyfully share God’s Good News.
  • Choose tasty treats. You’ll know your guests best, so choose and prepare some party foods that call celebrations to mind. Maybe your Get-Together will have a tailgate theme, with smokies and nachos. Maybe it’s a birthday party vibe with cake and ice cream. Or perhaps it’s a summer festival with popsicles and snack mix! Your creativity is integral to what makes you human, and expressing that creativity through food will make people feel welcome and feel like celebrating.
  • Bring the fun. We’ll give you activity sheets, coloring pages, games and craft ideas; you can pick your favorites and lead your guests through the activities with joyful energy. Through crafts, games and music your Get-Together will shine a spotlight on how good the Good News is.

And what is the CM staff’s role in all this?

Our job is to make your Get-Together doable! In addition to assembling the materials, we’ll meet with you in person to prayerfully plan your Get-Together and help prepare you for the big day. As you move through the process, we’ll work with you to take care of any bumps in the road and make sure you feel ready to celebrate with your neighbors.

Are parents invited to these things, or are they just dropping kids off?

It’s up to you! Just like with a kid’s birthday party, you might want to invite parents to stay with their kids (to help supervise and also hear the message), or you might want to have enough help on hand to allow parents to drop their kids off. There are benefits and challenges to both ways! We want to help you select and plan for the option that best empowers you. The important thing is to communicate to families what’s expected.

Can I co-host with families from other churches?

Sure! This is about the Good News, not about a church organization, so if you have families you trust who follow Jesus like you do, invite them to join the effort! We want to help God’s children share His love and bring hurting, searching people into the healing of relationship with Christ.