Last week I went to church at Manly Life (our home church in Australia) and I heard a sermon from Brian Heasley, a pastor from the UK. He preached about his own experiences being called to the party island of Ibiza. He told stories of how people were touched simply by asking if his team could pray for them. He had countless stories of people pouring their hearts out and turning to God rather than alcohol.
It really spoke to me. The entire sermon. It felt like God was showing me what it would look like to love people in Reno. It got me thinking of a few ideas…
What if we brought cases of cheap water bottles (Kirkland brand) to give out to people walking the streets. What if each one of those water bottles had a message on it. It would be such a simple gesture, but I think it would show people that there is more than just a community of people that like to party, there’s also a community of people that love Jesus and want to be used to love others.
If I put myself in the shoes of the people walking the streets, (which I totally was that person walking around in my college days attending themed bar hopping nights called “Santa Crawl” or “Zombie Crawl”) then I would be VERY encouraged to see that there was another group of people that I could belong to that were doing godly things in my community. People are always looking for community; it’s in our very nature. And if we gave people the chance to belong to a Jesus-loving community such as the one that puts on this event, then maybe they would forego their sin and turn to God.
Jesus Uber: I was also thinking that we could have free rides back home. People could donate their time, and their car most importantly, to give people free rides home. Think about that. 1. It would be a great opportunity to share the love of Jesus with another person while giving them a lift back to their house. 2. People would absolutely love to save some money by not hiring a taxi or an uber. and 3. People love to talk about religion when they’re under the influence. It makes them feel unashamed about their view points and they’re more careless about debating the subject. I know they would wake up and remember how they got home that night, and I would hope that they would think fondly about the experience. Maybe even so much so that they reached out to go to a bible study or something.
I also feel like there would be a liability if it was backed by a church. What if there was an accident? What if someone got hurt? They would undoubtedly try and sue someone; either the driver, the church, or both! What if we had them sign a liability waiver? What if they were under the influence of alcohol and couldn’t knowingly sign the document with reasonable comprehension? Would that hold up in court? That’s just a fear that came to mind, but definitely something to consider.
What if there was an app for the church that allowed people to see what events were hosted by the church and also allowed people to donate towards that event in real-time. If our goal was to raise $400 to give out free water bottles to the people of downtown Reno, then church attendees could give until the goal was met. They could register that they were attending that night. They could register to pray for the people attending that event, etc.
What if the app could also keep you posted on where bible studies were happening and when. They could even give you a picture of the person hosting it with a short bio about them and a photo of the front of their house so you know exactly which one it is. Anyone could just show up, which could be a little dangerous now that I think about it, but also, fear is not of the Lord. And I think it would be so cool to be able to open up your home to anyone who is looking to learn a little about Jesus.
What if the Downtown Reno Water Fest, which I just named it, was also simultaneously a night of worship? What if people from all over Reno could get a chance to come downtown to worship God in the midst of so much sin. What if there were fire places where people could sit down and talk with other Christians about their faith? What if there was an Italian soda bar where people could drink something other than alcohol? What if there were bean bags and other outdoor furniture so that people could make themselves at home? What if this water festival happened every 3rd Saturday of every month at the exact same time that the downtown crawls were happening? That sounds like pretty perfect timing to me.
What if people fell into the fires and then sued us? What if people put alcohol inside the free Italian sodas? These are all fears, but something to think about nonetheless. What if this organization that put this on was called Reno Christians, a 100% non-profit non-affiliated organization that allowed people to walk out their faiths, regardless of the denomination of their home church that they attended on Sundays. What if we marketed it as the place for Christians between Sundays? It could be an organization where Christians began to put their knowledge into action.
All of these thoughts came to me when I was hearing about how this guy walked around the streets of Ibiza with a team of believers asking people if they could pray for them. Amazing things happened. All of his stories inspired my thoughts for the next half hour thinking about how I could implement the love of God in my own party town that I call home. Reno, Jesus is coming for you.