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Planning for the 2013 Christmas event at Cross Point Church happened in October with a call from Pastor Pete Wilson. His request for a snow sledding hill in the parking lot quickly turned into a large-scale community event that spanned four days and six different live concert events. This all happened in less than two months and with no planned budget.

Once the gauntlet had been thrown down, the creative team met to brainstorm the event. They began listing all the things that screamed ?Christmas? to them. Once they had a good handle on what they wanted to do, they began limiting it to the things they could actually do in the time they had. The challenge here was that they hadn?t planned a budget for this event, so they had to shuffle money around to make this happen. It required every ministry to make some sacrifices, which still wasn?t enough.[quote]Cross Point?hadn?t planned a budget for this event, so they had to shuffle money around to make this happen.[/quote]

Sponsorships

They overcame this problem by introducing corporate sponsorships into the event. Each outdoor activity cost quite a bit of money, because these were things they couldn?t easily create themselves. For instance, a snow sledding hill would have come with all sorts of complications.

  • Where do you rent a snow machine?
  • How can you create a structure strong enough to hold that much water/snow weight?
  • What about the liability for creating something like this?

None of the team had every tried something like this, so they had to research solutions. They eventually found vendors that provided what they were looking for. The sledding hills, ice-skating rink, rock climbing wall, and the mini children?s train were all possible through vendors who provided these features. And they weren?t cheap. Most of these vendors were used to working with corporations like NBC or Macy?s to provide these features, and the cost for these things far exceeded what Cross Point Church had in their accounts.

So they reached out to their congregation. They put together a team that reached out to the business owners in their congregation. By asking individual businesses to sponsor these attractions, they were able to bring the vendors in without having to charge for the event. Plus, each vendor provided their own liability protection for the features they were concerned about.[quote]By asking individual businesses to sponsor these attractions, they were able to bring the vendors in without having to charge for the event.[/quote]

Each sponsor got their names out to the community just as if they were sponsoring a concert. They were on fliers, banners, and pre-concert slideshows.

The Goal of the Event

One of the things they had to wrestle with?through countless conversations?was their real goal for the event. They knew they wanted this to be a gift to their city. It would be something that truly reflected the feel and culture of Nashville. It was A Merry Music City Christmas?Nashville?s DNA built right into the name. And they wanted this to be an opportunity for people to experience Christmas as a family. Maybe even to create a new tradition. But what was a win for the event? Did they merely want people to experience the outdoor fun? Did they want people to go to the concert and hear Pete Wilson?s short message? They had to figure out if they were okay with people coming for the outdoor events and leaving without attending the concert.

Ultimately they realized they had to accept the idea that some people would never make it inside the church building. They didn?t want to turn this event into a bait-and-switch. If people came for outdoor family fun but found themselves being shuffled into a church service, that would have felt dishonest to the Cross Point team.[quote]They didn?t want to turn this event into a bait-and-switch.[/quote]

Instead they settled on two goals: give attendees an amazing experience and let them see the heart of Cross Point Church. Even if an attendee never set foot in the church building, as long as they experienced those two things, they considered the event a success.

The Stories

The event was a success. Besides introducing themselves to the community, they heard many stories of people impacted by the event.

One family they met on the transportation busses to the event simply couldn?t believe the event was free. ?Are you sure this doesn?t cost anything? No fees?? No. It was a gift to them. They didn?t have the money to be able to experience something like this. But because of this event, they were able to start a new family tradition.

Another lady who attended is a Muslim. She had never experienced something like it. She didn?t know churches like this existed.

Still others have been attending Cross Point Church ever since the event. They saw that this church was one they?d love to attend.[quote]Even when circumstances aren?t ideal, you can create an amazing outreach experience that has far-reaching impact in your community.[/quote]

It was so successful in fact, that they?ll be doing the same event this year. It?s a new tradition they?re offering to the city. Be assured they?ve already met multiple times since August to plan this year?s event, and they?ve definitely put a line item in the budget for this Christmas. But it turns out, even when circumstances aren?t ideal, that you can create an amazing outreach experience that has far-reaching impact in your community.

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