Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Truths for your Church I learned from over 850 Wild game Banquets.

I started speaking at Men's events and Wild game Banquets back in the 1990's and since that time I have had the privilege of speaking at over 850 events all over the country. Here are a few truths I learned during that time.

1) The Best Game Banquets are done on Weeknights not weekends. -  The reason for this is simple. Guys who hunt and fish do so on the weekends. Show me a Wild game Banquet that is on the weekend, and I will show  you one that is primarily filled with Church goers. An event planned on a week day breaks up the work week for a guy, while still allowing him to talk about hunting and fishing. Choose your times wisely.

2) The Venue makes a difference.- Churches that do their Banquets away from the Church building find they have much better success, because guys who don't know Christ have a thing about walking in a church. Ive heard Church members say: "Well they should want to come to the House of God" Well two things: the building is NOT the house of God. God dwells in people not buildings. (Acts 17:34) Secondly if they wanted to come to your church they would be there. Choose a venue that is non threatening to the non church goer. Give them the chance to hear the good news.

3) "Ambush Evangelism" will hurt your Banquet in the future-  Ive heard Jason Cruise who is in my opinion the leading authority on reaching men through hunting and fishing. Talk about this in his blog: http://jasoncruise.com, and I have seen it as well. A speaker will get everyone to bow their head and close their eyes with the promise of not embarrassing  anyone. However the moment a hand is raised he will tell them to look up and move to a counseling room or to talk with a counselor. This destroys credibility for future Banquets as an outreach event. I had a seminary professor that said a speaker should spend as much time preparing their invitation as their message. Don't bait and switch. Make sure your speaker knows how to extend an invitation and let God work.

4) Churches that use a response card do a much better job of "Follow up" than those that don't.
Following up on decisions made at a Wild game Banquet or any Evangelistic event is critical. Too many churches put more energy and planning in the physical food than the spiritual food. A response card used at the end of a decision time can give the church the valuable and confidential information they need to help a new convert grow and stick. Sometimes a follow up can help deepen up some commitments that a person may not have fully understood. I suggest using your response card at the end for your door prize card. Just make sure that everyone fills one out, and that decision is kept private.

Wild Game Banquets can be an amazing outreach tool, that will draw people that would not otherwise darken the doors of  your Church if they are done with prayer, care and a little thought.


  1. Hey Chris... I like your observations. I particularly agree with the "Ambush Evangelism" though I'd take it a step further. Too often Christians have a habit of forcing unbelievers to do something that they would never do because they are unbelievers.

    My wife and I were talking about this exact subject recently but we hadn't put a name to the concept. The thing that happened was while we were out on an overnight fishing trip with some friends that are non-believers - we sat down to eat and they just dove in and of course I was about to pray yet for some reason I stopped and just asked my wife "Are we thankful for this?" and of course her answer was "Yes, very much so!". I almost felt ashamed because all my life I grew up where it was expected that you would hogtie your unbelieving friends into joining you in "blessing the food". Afterwards we discussed it and realized that it was the perfect thing to do because both of our friends stopped and stared at us almost with their mouths open because we didn't "Pray".

    The lesson to be learned is that we need not "Cast our pearls before swine" - Matt 7:6 Instead we need to focus on what part of the gospel is most offensive to the person or people in front of us and find out why it is offensive. Jesus did this over and over through the gospels. Sometimes he stuck his finger in their eye (the pharisees), but other times he softly said, "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more" because the individual had already been offended enough by the pharisees. In the case of my friends, they have been offended by the "church" in several ways and by us not following the normal protocol of "ambush evangelism", we took them completely by surprise.

    And you know what? We had the best conversation we'd ever had with them that evening and my buddy even opened up about his past church experiences. I feel strongly that we would have never had that experience if we had ambushed them with spirituality.

    This has had me thinking lately - what else am I doing that causes "ambush evangelism"?

    Food for thought...

    Thank for helping me on my journey,

    Mike Van Nattan

    1. Good stuff Mike. Thank you for sharing.