Is your community glad your church exists? In the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, GA, local businesses and schools are thrilled Piedmont Church is there. Led by Ike Reighard, Piedmont is committed to blessing its community and has seamlessly woven itself into the daily fabric of North Atlanta life. Nowhere was this more apparent than this past Saturday when the church put on an event called Christmas At Piedmont.
As a gift to the community, Piedmont partnered with local businesses and schools to host over 20,000 visitors during this two-day event. The church’s Senior Associate Pastor Marlon Longacre, and for my money the best community pastor in America, first made me aware of Christmas At Piedmont back in November. But when I read about it on the front page of the Marietta Daily Journal as “One Of The Top 5 Things To Do In Marietta This Weekend”, I knew my family needed to stop by.
The following is what I and thousands of others discovered upon arriving at the church (and I want to emphasize – this a church:
- 30+ booths manned by local businesses creating goodwill by providing free giveaways and promoting their services.
- Multiple food venues including Chick-Fil-A and local restaurants.
- 40+ craft booths.
- 14 choral and multiple music groups from the local schools.
- Snow tubing from a man-made snow machine. This was a blast to have on a 55 degree day (see above).
- Petting zoo.
- And so much more….
I spoke with Marlon about the idea and logistics for such an extravaganza. The following are 10 Practices Of Highly Effective Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence I gleaned from this amazing leader. I trust these thoughts will better help your church serve its community with excellence:
- Churches Who ServeTheir Community With Excellence Are Part Of The Business And School System – Marlon is involved in the Acworth, Kennesaw and Marietta (all Atlanta suburbs) Business Associations as well as the Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the Piedmont staff has built relationships and serves EVERY school (elementary, middle and high) in its community.
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Help Businesses And Schools Be Successful – Businesses want to get in front of as many people as possible. Schools want to display their product – great kids. Churches want as many people as possible visiting their campus. Christmas At Piedmont accomplished all three objectives. Sponsorship fees for businesses were as low as $100 with bags and coupons, $500 for a booth, or as high at $1,500 to sponsor the stage or petting zoo. Over the course of two days, over 20,000 local residents visited Christmas At Piedmont. The businesses and schools received great exposure. The benefit to church was summed up by Marlon who said, “We’ll have more people today than on Easter and Christmas Eve. More first-time guests.”
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Save Money – It is good stewardship to serve your community. Because of the sponsorships, this event was put on at no cost to Piedmont Church. The church also received thousands of dollars of free advertising. In addition to being on the front page of the local paper, Christmas At Piedmont was promoted in the Cobb Business Journal. Another local publication, The Bright Side, promoted the event to the over 40,000 homes in its circulation.
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Are Generous With Their Facilities – The church hosted 14 choral groups from local schools, one scheduled performance every 30 minutes. Because of space issues, most schools can often only invite immediate family to their events. By opening their facilities, the church allows schools to invite extended family and friends. The benefit to the school is they can show their impact in the lives of students to larger audiences. The benefit to the church was because each group was scheduled, there was a maximum flow of people into the church throughout the two days.
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Promote The Arts – Everyone focuses on sports teams but in Cobb County, 80% of the children are in music. Marlon said, “Durham Middle School has over 100 fiddlers and they’re phenomenal but nobody knows (this) because they can’t invite the public to come hear them…Any school would want to promote the kids because that’s their product. When you provide a venue, (and understand) how big music programs are at schools and invite them out, look at what you get (over 2,000 on campus at that moment).”
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Must Think Differently – Marlon added, “You got 100 (students) on the football team but you’ve got 220 in the band. I get amazed because churches always want to sponsor FCA but there’s three times that many (unchurched) kids in intramuarals. Go sponsor intramurals. If you catch the FCA kids you’ve probably got to throw them back because they probably already go to other churches. Go to intramurals where there is 200-300 (unchurched) kids. You can have FCA. I’m going to intramurals.”
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Have More First Time Guests – With more first-time guests on their campus than at any time during the year, Piedmont Church was able to promote their facilities, programs and services in a loving non-threatening manner. And as Marlon was quick to remind me, all at no cost to the church.
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Are Financially Generous To Their Community – Piedmont split all sponsorship proceeds with the event’s management company. Piedmont then took their portion of the receipts and reinvested those funds back into the school system. The church made no money on the event. It all went back into the community.
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Love And Serve Business Leaders – Marlon told me, “We’ve got the best crafts. I like crafters because I like entrepreneurs.”
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Create A Positive Buzz – As our conversation concluded Marlon noted, “When people come here, they have a great time and experience at Piedmont. You can send mail-outs but you can’t put a price tag on buzz.”
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Add Economic Value To Their Community BIG TIME – We forget this. Churches add jobs. Churches funnel resources into local establishments. Churches utilize the assistance of local businesses. Churches deserve a seat at your community’s table.
- Churches Who Serve Their Community With Excellence Complete Their Community – Do not compete with your city. Complete your city. This part of our city does not have an organized Christmas event. Christmas At Piedmont provided an opportunity and venue for our entire community to come together.
In conclusion, I want to thank Marlon for his time. I am already looking forward to the 2015 Christmas At Piedmont. It will only get bigger and better. More businesses. More schools. More guests. More ministry impact.