When Brad Neave of Boones Chapel Baptist Church, Prattville, approached senior pastor Phil Winningham with the idea of hosting a food truck festival, church leaders weren’t certain the idea would work in their rural community.
“My first thought was, that might work in the big city of Atlanta but not in the rural community of Boones Chapel,” Winningham said. “However, when you challenge the church to dream big and think out of the box it’s hard to shoot down an idea without giving it a try.”
Boones Chapel introduced its first Truck Fest in 2018 and Winningham said they have been “blown away ever since.”
The goal of the event held on the Boones Chapel campus was to draw people to the church and create opportunities for gospel conversations.
“Most have heard about Boones Chapel but events like this connect what they have heard with the reality of who we are,” Winningham said, noting that church members are encouraged to personally engage in evangelism.
Event planning began with prayer and promotion on social media, local advertising and word of mouth through church members.
“At all of our events members are encouraged to have the personal touch and to make connections whenever the opportunity arises,” said Amy Fray, Boones Chapel ministry assistant. “We make sure our members keep that evangelistic focus.”
This year’s event held May 15 drew approximately 1,300 guests. In addition to the dozen or so food trucks, visitors enjoyed a festival atmosphere with a bouncy house, face painting and games like corn hole and horseshoes.
Food vendors attend by invitation only, ensuring a variety of food options. Neave manages the event, inviting food vendors and communicating with them from the start of planning through the event’s end.
While the event provided a festival atmosphere it also offered a setting that encouraged one-on-one gospel conversations, Winningham said.
“Having a meal with someone offers a prime opportunity to share whereas a fall festival, moving from one game to the other, makes it nearly impossible for this personal conversation,” Winningham said.
In line with the church’s three-fold evangelism strategy the festival offered a live praise band, gospel conversations and a Serving Our Savior (SOS) ministry booth.
SOS Ministries for Evangelism and Discipleship is a national events-based ministry focusing on evangelism.
The SOS booth is a ministry tool designed to create opportunities to engage festival guests in gospel conversations.
Festival guests are asked the question, “Have you seen three things God cannot do?” A creative display board allows volunteers to lead guests toward the answers to that question.
“We ask the guests standing there if they are 100% sure they are going to heaven when they die,” said SOS team leader Patty Mills.
“Then we ask if they would like to be 100% certain. A lot of times they say yes and that’s when we take them back to trained individuals who will share the gospel.”
The SOS team then uses the Bible to walk them toward salvation.
Decisions for Christ
“I love seeing so many people from all over our community come to our campus,” Fray said. “Everyone was smiling and having a good time and enjoying the good food, beautiful weather and the music and games. Seeing our church family engage with our community with the main purpose of sharing Christ has always been an encouragement to me.”
Five decisions for Christ were made at the festival this year and the church continues to reap from the seeds sown at the event.
“I hear many of the stories that our church members share after an event like this and I know those encounters for Christ will bear much fruit,” Fray added.
“I even heard that one of the food truck vendors expressed an interest in coming back for a worship service because the atmosphere was so loving and inviting.”
Boones Chapel members hope to expand the event in all areas as attendance grows.