The Power of Party
Have you ever read the Gospels and noticed just how often Jesus went to parties? Jesus was constantly putting himself in a position to meet and connect with people. He wanted to form relationships with people from all walks of life and become part of their lives. And the context where that makes the most sense…is a party! It sounds funny and might not be your first instinct as you think through living on mission. But the truth is that a party might be what our world, our community, our neighbors need.
If you’ve been prayer walking your neighborhood or street, you might have been asking God about His heart for the houses and families you pass on the way. God wants us to connect with our neighbors and engage them in relationship and friendship. And a party is an intentional gathering of neighbors and friends for the purpose of getting to know those that live close to you. That’s the goal. The goal of a party isn’t for a worship service to break out. It’s not a bait and switch. The goal of a party is to become a friend to someone and trust that God will lead and care for that relationship.
Check out this video/testimony from author Rosaria Butterfield: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e1rznUzeOU
WHERE TO START:
So what would it look like for you to throw a party? Where do you start? Who do you invite? How can you pull this off? We want to help clarify that and do this alongside of you.
The first step is to pray and ask God to be with you in the process. We want to be intentional which means we want to party with purpose and on purpose. As you prayer walk and interact with neighbors, listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Then I would think through who you would want to invite. Who do you want to connect with? Who would you like to know better? Who don’t you know? The drive-by wave in the neighborhood doesn’t tell you your neighbor’s story. Only they can do that. And the best place for that to happen is at a party.
You can invite friends or family over to help you with this. Use the Nextdoor app or a flyer in the neighborhood. Have people RSVP. Don’t have an agenda. We’re just asking people to gather and connect! Again, the goal is just to get to know each other. When you celebrate life with people, you find out their stories.
You might also be thinking, “What should this party look like?” It all sounds fine and good until you realize that people are actually coming over to your house or yard. That can be intimidating!
Keep in mind, the goal isn’t to throw a luxurious, extravagant event. It doesn’t have to be like the Kentucky Derby or Super Bowl and it doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be intentional and relational. If people are spending time together talking around food and drink, that’s a party. Do what you need to do for your home or yard to be a space that people can connect. Light some candles. Put on some music that everyone will want to listen to. Have some food and drinks around. And get to know people!
Prepare yourself spiritually beforehand. If you’re introverted, take some time for yourself before and recover the next day because you might get worn out. If you’re extroverted, don’t overwhelm people with your energy and excitement. God works through all of us and wants to work through you at a party. Most people don’t realize it but it’s true! And when we do it with Him, it actually becomes something sacred that He uses for His Kingdom. And it’s fun!
Look for natural excuses to gather and leverage those. Look at the calendar. There are holidays, sporting events, school events that you and your neighbors are already doing anyways. Join forces with them and use the rhythms of the year and of life to give you a rhythm of party with people. Theme it out if there’s a holiday coming up. Do a trivia night. Make a fire and do smore’s in the fall. There are so many excuses to party. Why not be the one who starts it?
So you threw a party. Now what? Well, like I said earlier, the goal of a party is that you become friends. You want to know if a party worked or not? It worked if people want to get together and do it again.
Give them a pathway back to you. Grab people’s phone number or email. Friend them on Facebook or other social media. A day or so after the party, shoot them a message thanking them for coming and letting them know you’re glad that you got to know them better.
Good follow-up leads to long-term relationship. Without follow-up, we’re just partying for the sake of partying and we miss the friendship that God wants us to step into. Some of you have listened to all of this and thought, “Yeah, isn’t this all a bit obvious? Why would we need training on this?” Well the truth is that this might be a real stretch for some of you. Maybe you’ve never done anything like this. That’s okay!
When we take risks for God’s Kingdom, He meets us there faithfully. He wants us to connect people to Jesus and one another not just inside the walls of one of our campuses, but in the community as well. I would say that most people are going to encounter Jesus and his people outside the wall of a church building first. Most people will hear about Jesus from a friend. And most people make friends at parties. What if, by stepping out and connecting with your neighbors over a grill in the backyard, someone’s story changes? We believe that God can use you and your home to reach people.