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Outdoor Evangelism...Hosting a successful wild game feed at your church.

Author: David Lingner

"What started out as an event, has turned into a full fledged ministry of Southeast Christian Church... We knew this was going to be successful... but quite frankly, the leaders of the Church were amazed at how many men have come out of the woodwork and become involved.” Ralph Swallows, Southeast Christian Church.... Louisville, KY

Recently I was speaking with Steve Chapman, author of several Christianbooks for men and the outdoors. We were discussing ways to use the outdoors to reach men, and our conversation turned to “Wild Game Feed” events. Steve suggested I speak with Ralph Swallows and the outdoor men's ministry team from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY who have initiated and directed a very successful ministry for the last four years...

“Our goal was to get the... “come to church for an hour and go home guy”, engaged." Stated the passionate Swallows. “We knew this church was full of men that had so much to offer... we just needed a vehicle to bring them to the surface.” (Sounds a little like hunting to me...) Ralph got the idea to do a Wild Game Feed at his church. "We began networking, rounding up a “core group” of outdoorsmen to head this thing up. We asked the men to commit to donating the game, and to spread the word around town." Ralph said. (The men agreed... besides, this gave them the perfect “spiritual” ammo they needed for their wives to let them go out
hunting.) The results.. 460 men came to the dinner the first year, 700 the second year, year three 900, and they are shooting for 1500+ this year. Consider this... 30-40% of the men attending are not affiliated with the Church.

What have they done to make this event such a success? First, they make a strong effort to be sure guests are made to feel welcome. Chris Hadley, one of the core group members, co-ordinates the hospitality greeters and ushers. “We do our best to communicate the love of the Lord to every man who comes.” Hadley said.

In addition to the great feast, they also provide booths for organizations like, Hunters for the Hungry, Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, etc. Church member Roger LaPointe heads up the community relations aspect of the game feed, promoting community support and involvement. “We contact local retailers asking them to donate giveaways we present at the end of the program... That keeps the men holding on till the end.” LaPointe added.

The program is self funding, men from the church donating the food. There is a $10 donation for the event. They bring a speaker in to make a 30 - 45 minute presentation... they do not use this as a hard sell “bring men to Jesus” event. The idea is to break down walls of defensiveness... using the common bond of the outdoors to connect with men at the heart level... start building relationships.

“This is a whole day event for the guys involved. We start grilling around noon... we cook up some exotic stuff during the day. We have guys dropping by all day long to taste and enjoy the atmosphere. Then we serve the meal at 6:30pm and our speaker comes on at 7:15” Ralph stated. Last year the speaker was Steve Chapman. He really has a way of touching men's hearts. He uses music, story tellin' and humor... weaving Truth into the fabric of the presentation.” Ralph said.

You can just imagine the clean up job after an event like this. Steve “Rambo” Moore, does an incredible job managing this aspect of the event... “We don't call him “Rambo” for nothing!” chuckled Swallows.

After the Wild Game Feed they follow up through the year, with regular scheduled events like target shooting, fishing, 3D archery shoots and such to keep men engaged and continue to build community. “What started out as an event, has turned into a full fledged ministry of Southeast Christian Church... We knew this was going to be successful... but quite frankly, the leaders of the Church were amazed at how many men have come out of the woodwork and become involved.” Ralph said.

Christian Outdoorsman hopes this will give you some ideas about how to host a successful Wild Game Feed at your church and maybe even start a ministry... and remember if you do this... your wife won't mind you “huntin' for the Lord” this year!

About the author:
David Lingner is founder of Christian Outdoorsman, an organization with the purpose of building a worldwide community of Christian outdoor enthusiasts, in order to use God's Creation to "Bring men closer to the Creator." http://www.ChristianOutdoorsman.com You can email Dave at: dlingner@ChristianOutdoorsman.com

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