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Danville Baptistís annual evangelistic block party draws 3,200 this yearcomment (0)

September 28, 2006

In 2000, when Danville Baptist Church kicked off a block-party plan for reaching its rural community, church members never dreamed just how large their project would become.

“We wanted to share the things the Lord has blessed us with,” Pastor Jack Bailey said. “We were looking for a way to get people to come to the church who wouldn’t come to a regular church service.”

This year, there were an estimated 3,200 present at the annual event held the second week in August. The Morgan Baptist Association church averages just under 270 in Sunday School.

The party includes inflatables and other games for children, a stage with live music, a food court, a free yard sale the church calls the “Grace Barn,” a grand prize drawing and a fireworks show.

Everything is free of charge.

“In all of our advertisements, we make it clear that everything is free because salvation is free. We try to teach that truth in everything we do,” Bailey said.

“We want everyone to understand that it’s all grace. We don’t want that to be corrupted one bit.”

The volunteers at the party are instructed to refuse any donations offered, but people who attend the party often return later and give a donation, which the church accepts. This year’s event cost $23,000, but Bailey said the church had no trouble raising the money.

“The Lord provides the money, and we just keep giving it away. We give with a spoon, and the Lord gives back with a scoop,” he said. “We use a scoop and He gets a front-end loader. We haven’t been able to outgive Him.”

Danville Baptist’s block party is different from most other block parties, Bailey said. “We don’t have many professions of faith like in most block parties. We share the gospel but we don’t have an invitation.”

He said the results often come later. “We have had people come to the church who told us they came because of the block party. We’ve grown as a result.”

According to him, the crowd is not a typical church group.

The church has dealt with issues like people smoking at the block party. The church decided to discourage it but not force the issue.

“We decided we wanted everyone to come,” Bailey said. “We are trying to reach the fringes and get them onto our campus.”

Church member Cindy Tyson serves as team leader, organizing the event with the help of Sunday School classes. The event requires about 200 volunteers, mostly from the church, although other groups often pitch in. This year, a missions group from Central Baptist Church, Decatur, in Morgan Association assisted.

Working at the event is only a small part of the work that goes into the block party. The Grace Barn alone takes several weeks to prepare, according to Tyson.

“Susan Hensley and her Sunday School class meet two nights a week for several weeks getting the donations ready,” she said. “It takes a lot of work to sort through everything and get it ready.”

In addition to the donated clothing and other items, the church provided 400 packets of school supplies this year through the Grace Barn.

Tyson noted, “The kids who got the supplies needed them. It’s worth all the work you put in when you see the people getting the things they need.”

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