The Little Church that Could … and Did2 min read

Bethel, Grandville is a small church with an average attendance of around 50 members on any given Sunday; but being small does not mean you cannot reach out to the community, spreading the Word that our real independence came from Jesus Christ.

Awareness is Key

About five years ago, Bethel recognized that many people use its parking lot for Grandville’s annual Fourth of July parade and decided it was an excellent opportunity to spread the Word of God to a large number of people. Members started out by putting Bethel Lutheran labels on 300 bottles of water, which were given to the occupants of vehicles entering the parking lot, along with an invitation to come to church.


This simple outreach has grown each year and it also unexpectedly brought members closer together as they worked together on this outreach opportunity.

Organizing the Effort

Bethel planned to give out 650 free hot dogs, 500 bottles of water, popcorn, and many of the 1000 Life Books provided by the Gideons. There was much work to be done: the water and the Life Book all needed to have special Bethel Lutheran labels.

Money seems to be a problem for many special projects, but not this one. Donations from organizations and individual members of the church kept the cost minimal, about $40. It was also supported by member volunteers, who did much of the work. One Bethel member organized a German dinner night, with bratwurst cooked in beer as the main course and other members bringing in their own favorite German dish. The turnout was great. It was hard to believe that dinner was completed and everything labeled in only an hour’s time—a wonderful experience and great fellowship.

Ready … Set … Go!

During the parade, Bethel provided free parking, use of the restrooms, a room for nursing mothers, tents for shade along the parade route, and a tour of the church for anyone who wanted one. Given away were over 300 bags of popcorn, 500 bottles of water, 650 hot dogs, 500+ Life Books, and hundreds of VBS invitations, along with many verbal invitations to come to church. Fifteen people signed up to receive a Bible and Vacation Bible School information. Bethel received a bit of free publicity via the Facebook post of a dog rescue group because of its dog drink station.

In less than 3 hours, the Good News was spread to perhaps as many as 1,000 people by “the little church that could.”


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About the Author

Richard Salzwedel is the President of Grand General Insurance Agency. He has served in many positions at various Lutheran churches and is presently the Chairman of Bethel, Grandville.

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