Well, I just realized that I never wrote about rest of the Family Fun Nights that we had at Bennington Baptist Church this summer. I wrote about our Western night and what a great evening it was. We had an amazing turnout that we had prepared for but were definitely not expecting, and it encouraged us greatly as we moved on to our other three events.
But God surprised us again the following week when we hosted our family game show night. Because we had about 60 visitors show up the week before, we were expecting to see a similar number, especially after several people told us they planned to return. Interestingly enough, though, we had less than 20 visitors, and several of them had not attended our Western night.
So adjusting to a much smaller crowd was not only a challenge but a good learning experience. Overall, the evening still went mostly as planned, and by God’s grace we avoided having any major issues with our setup and the program we ran.
We played a few rounds of Family Feud and several rounds of Minute to Win It, and we had lots of fun cheering, laughing, and giving away prizes.
The next week we brought out several yard games and table games and planned to just have some “good old-fashioned fun” with our visitors. We brought out the large Connect Four game that we built for the Bennington Daze parade, imported a Ga-Ga ball ring from Gretna Baptist Church, and set up several tents with tables, chairs, and table games.
We also had dozens of homemade sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles so that people could decorate their own desserts to go along with their hot dogs and chips.
Setup went smoothly, and we were all ready to start entertaining our guests.
We waited…and waited…and waited…
Eventually a few people came, and then a few more, but we only had about 14 visitors total. I even went over to the playground to invite the parents who were watching their kids play there, and they weren’t interested. So we engaged the few who came, ate extra hot dogs, and did our best to remain joyful even though some of us were visibly disappointed by the lack of a turnout.
Near the end of the evening, a boy from across the street came to see what was going on, and he joined in the fun and even helped us clean up at the end. He was extremely talkative and obviously had nothing else to do, and he told us he’d come back next week for our movie night if we reminded him. He said his family moved to the area a few months ago and he was looking for things to do and people to know. So meeting him was one of the highlights of the evening for me.
So now for three weeks in a row, God had taught me some valuable lessons as I planned these Family Fun Nights. He taught me to always give my best effort, plan for the best, and be grateful for the blessings He provides. He also reminded me that His timing is not always my timing and that results are always up to Him, not me. Most importantly, I always need to keep God the focus and trust Him to work His perfect plan.
On August 6 we had our fourth and final Family Fun Night, and we showed the movie “Up.” I had never seen the movie before, but at each of the previous Thursday evenings we had given our visitors the opportunity to vote for which movie we would show by way of carnival tickets and voting boxes, and “Up” won the vote by a large margin.
Of all the activities we hosted, this was the one with the least setup. We set up a large 7’x12′ outdoor movie screen, a video projector, and we had popcorn and drinks on the side. People started arriving long before the publicized start time, and by the end of the night, we had about 70 non-church visitors come to join us! Once again, God had surprised us! It was so encouraging to have all those people after the previous two weeks with such low numbers.
We had 15 minutes of “commercials” prior to the start of the movie, and we also mixed in some short gospel videos. Between the commercials and the video I thanked everyone for coming and invited them to talk to those of us in the church if they had questions about their own salvation. I told them that although we liked having fun with them, we also wanted them to know for sure that they were going to Heaven someday!
The movie commenced, and we all enjoyed it. God gave us beautiful weather and kept the bugs away, and almost everyone stayed until the end. The boy who showed up at the end of our game night returned as promised even before I was able to make the trek to his house to remind him. He brought his mom as well, so I got to meet her and welcome her to our community.
During the last half hour of the movie, the boy came over to where I was standing in the back of the crowd and just started talking to me. For awhile it was a one-sided conversation as he told me all these things about his life. He eventually told me about his grandma, an extremely religious person, who passed away earlier this year. He told me how she was such a good person and prayed often for him and his family.
As a result, I got to talk to him about spiritual matters, specifically sin and death and Heaven. He told me he believed he would go to Heaven because he was a really good person, and everyone told him that good works were the key to being saved. So God gave me the wonderful opportunity to discuss with him how good works are not sufficient because of how terrible even a single sin is.
By the time the movie ended, I did not get to go through the whole Gospel, but the seed was planted! As the year progresses, I look forward to having more opportunities to talk with him.
So that’s a summary of the Family Fun Nights we hosted in Bennington this summer. It was a great experience for me, especially since I was in charge of most of the planning aspect. We were able to make some good connections and renew some relationships in the community.
Specifically, I’m excited to see what fruit comes from the life of the kid who showed up late during the night when we had barely a dozen people. At the time, it could have been very discouraging. But time will tell what God will do because of our efforts that evening.