This is the second in a three-part series on what is now being called “party evangelism.” It presents an interview with a young man who attended one of the parties.
Inside the Party: An “unchurched” perspective
April 14, 2006
T.D., a new “believer” who was influenced by Party Evangelism, recently sat down with the editor to lend perspective of the influence this contemporary outreach had on his conversion.
When you first received the invitation to a party, what did you think? Did you want to come or did it take some persuading?
It took a lot of persuading. I was raised Catholic and was taught that Catholicism was right and everything else was wrong. I had Amanda and Sus [two of Tom’s “churched friends] trying to get me to come to one of the parties. Finally Amanda kind of tricked me into coming. I’m glad she did.
What were your impressions of the party? Were you comfortable? Describe the experience?
As nervous as I was coming to the party, I was incredibly comfortable. I felt very welcome… the openness of the group just kind of swallowed me. I am typically an outgoing person and don’t have problems starting conversations with people I don’t know, but that wouldn’t have matter with this group. Everyone was talking and introducing himself or herself and really taking an interest in the conversation and me. It is hard to really describe my experience in detail because it feels like it happened really fast and long ago now. It was definitely like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Did the party feel like it was being hosted by stereotypical Christians? How did the way the party was hosted make you feel?
I don’t think the subject of faith or religion was brought up all night unless I brought it up. Again being raised Catholic, I had a preconceived notion as to what the stereotypical Christian was. At no point did I meet anyone that fit the stereotype. The openness of the party, the guests, and the hosts made me feel like I was member of the group all along. I’m glad the party was hosted in a manner that was unstructured and open. Had there been any ministry or worship time I might have been uncomfortable.
Did you enjoy being at the party? Did you feel like, “yeah, I could actually get to know some of these people” or did you feel “passed over”?
Not only did I feel like “yeah I could actually get to know these people”, I wanted to get to know these people! I almost felt like I had to get to know these people. I really enjoyed the party. It was more fun than I thought a Christian party would be. At no point did I feel “passed over” or unwelcome.
What made you want to then try coming to house group?
After meeting the group and feeling so welcomed and included, I figured I had to go the next step. The feeling I had at the party definitely influenced me into coming [to housegroup]. Although still weary and questionable because of my Catholic upbringing. Amanda’s influence and a conversation or two with Sus also helped. Like I said before I just felt like I had to get to know the community, I realize now that God was probably talking to me. Something just told me I should be there. Even now when I don’t make it to house group, I feel like I’ve missed something; it kind of throws off my week and leaves wanting something.
Do you think first attending a party made you feel more comfortable or made it easier to start coming to house group?
Absolutely! Attending the party first helped deplete some of my preconceived notions about Christians. It allowed me to meet some people I would see at house group and have something to talk about before, after or during house group. It gave me a level of comfort and removed some of the anxiety that might have taken away from my willingness to build a relationship with Jesus and the group.
Did coming to house group add depth to your relationship with Jesus? How did it affect your faith?
Coming to house group has turned my world up side down! Catholicism is a form of Christianity and I always considered myself a Christian but I definitely look at my faith differently. I definitely feel that I have a relationship with Jesus now. I couldn’t have said that before coming to house group or attending the Vineyard. The more I come to house group the deeper I feel my relationship with Jesus becoming. House group gives me the foundation I need to build that relationship. It helps me understand and recognize the Lord’s work in others and me. The teachings help me learn about Jesus. Worship and ministry help build that relationship in so many ways.
Now knowing the purpose of the parties, do you think they are an effective way of bringing people who are not connected with the church, into community? Why or why not?
I think that if you read my answers above they will answer this question for you! The parties are a great way to “break the ice” for new comers. It is a much more relaxed environment that allows the initial meeting of the community. I am a perfect example of the parties helping to connect someone to the church. I still struggle with the differences between my Catholic upbringing and the ways of the Vineyard but I now have a community to support me in my faith. Having a group of peers to turn to and seek guidance from is an invaluable tool.