MANATEE — Perhaps like many Manatee County churches, Parrish’s Faith Lutheran Church wished to attract younger members to its congregation.
But instead of just wishing, church members, whose average age is 65, became proactive. They did their research.
What they came up with is the church’s first “Faith Fun Fair,” a day of water slides, jump houses, games, crafts, face painting, balloons, door prizes, live music, food and drink.
The free event is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 9 at the church, 9608 U.S. 301 N., Parrish.
One of Faith’s leaders explained that in an age where door-to-door evangelism is hard for some people, a fun fair is the perfect ice breaker.
About 100 of the mostly grandparent-age church members have volunteered to staff the stations at the event, whose immediate mission is to reach out to local non-member families while showing off the church’s recently-completed $1.25 million renovation.
And, as the day grows near, members say they are excited.
“I can’t wait for it,” said church member Shirley Overmyer. who lives in Tara with her husband, Bob. “It will be so exciting. This is a good way to reach kids. Our church is fantastic and we want people to see what we have.”
Overmyer will be working in a game booth while her husband will be helping kids with crafts.
“We feel this will be a real productive way of reaching out,” Shirley Overmyer said.
Other grandparents will be giving out popcorn, snow-cones, filling helium balloons and serving hot dogs.
The YMCA, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be among many family-oriented organizations that will have booths at the event.
Although the idea for Faith’s fun fair came from congregation president Dick Fredrick, he said that outreach is commanded by God.
“God had the original idea,” Fredrick said. “God said to his people, ‘You are in charge down here, but don’t lock yourself in your church.’ God knew we have trouble sometimes worrying about the rest of our lives and ignoring others.”
Faith’s philosophy stresses “reaching out” in order to allow residents know that “we love them, care about them, and that God has a purpose for them,” Fredrick said.
Board members from Faith Lutheran decided to perform a major upgrade on the church facility to help with the reaching out.
The old fellowship hall, which had several tiny Sunday school classrooms, was torn down.
In its place, a new fellowship hall was built with large Sunday school classes, a kitchen and a new pastor’s office.
“This is the seventh church I have been in and I have learned that evangelism is not the thing most people want to do,” Fredrick said. “People go to church because they love the Lord and want to worship. But He still insists on getting the message out.”
God asks Christians to spread a tough message, Fredrick said.
But a fun fair, when people can just mix, may, wordlessly, perform outreach, Fredrick said.
“If they see how you live and the joy you have in your heart, it’s not so scary,” Fredrick said.
For information on the church, visit www.faithparrish.com or call 776-1395.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.
FAITH LUTHERAN CHURCH WHERE: 9608 U.S. 301 N., Parrish SERVICES: 8 and 10:30 a.m. Sundays BIBLE STUDY/SUNDAY SCHOOL: 9:15 a.m. Sundays INFORMATION: www.faithparrish.com or call 776-1395