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The Farmers Market: Is Your Church There?

August 26, 2004 by

I’ve been to a handful of local “farmers markets” around the U.S. and all of them are the same. Blocked-off streets in the heart of a small town, local merchants with chintzy tables selling everything from fresh vegetables and grilled meat to jewelry only found in flea markets. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a 2002 report, the number of farmers markets around the country has increased 79 percent since 1994.

I was with my wife tonight in San Luis Obispo, Calif. (for a little 4-day getaway a few hours from home). Once we figured out we were in SLO the same night as their weekly farmers market, we understood why parking was nowhere to be found and making a left turn was going to be impossible thanks to barricaded streets.

After a nice dinner together, we strolled the crowded town finding our way through sights, sounds, smells, and people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. The political climate was particularly intense as presidential backers and bashers were on every corner. Toward the end of the street, camouflaged with the rest of the merchants and across from the 500-foot grill cooking every part of a cow you could imagine, was something I have not seen at a farmers market before.


Mercy ChurchFresh Air
It was a breath of fresh air and a slight frustration at the same time. The local Vineyard church, Mercy Church, had setup a booth to make themselves known to the community.

Excellent idea! Thanks Mercy Church for stepping out of the normal circles of promotion and doing something to support the local community you are in, as well as make yourself known to the very people you are there to serve. Thanks for not being loud, obnoxious saints with anti-abortion signs or Republican elephants to pass out. Thanks for investing of your time and money!

I imagine Mercy Church does this every week. If they don’t, they should. Consistent presence will eventually reap consistent return. In this case, more visitors which hopefully turn into regular attendees.

Slight Frustration
My only frustration with their booth was that it was so un-engaging (see photo). A little backdrop with the church name was the only thing they did to “brand” their booth. They had a few handouts, but nothing worth giving a second look. If you’re going to spend this much time and energy, spend another $500 – $1,000 and get a bigger/bolder backdrop and some cool handouts (postcards, business cards, etc). It would have made me notice that much sooner and possibly even go talk to you guys. Instead, I snapped a picture of the hum drum tent and looked across the street to the guys yelling chants every time they turned over the sizzling meat. Way more exciting and engaging.

Get a Booth
What would happen if your church setup a booth every week at the farmers market? Are you ready to make the commitment to your community? How about providing some live music in your booth (could your worship band do any non-Sunday stuff?)? What about getting your teenagers to hang out at the booth and add some of their flair?

Don’t have a farmers market in your town? Get involved in something similar or see about starting something like it in your town. The crowds that make up events like these are so diverse — an excellent place to reach so many different kinds of people.

The community is ripe — even more than the bananas being sold right next to you.

Post By:

Brad Abare


Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Miró.
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6 Responses to “The Farmers Market: Is Your Church There?”

  • kevin
    August 31, 2004

    Giving your church a presence at local events is a great idea. Even better than just a presence would be to offer something. My church was involved in an Alpha booth at St. Paul’s Grand Ole Days where they were handing out free water. Suddenly they’re offering more than just information about a church. And since it was sponsored by the Alpha program, it was even an easy connection with people who aren’t church-goers.


  • anonymous
    March 29, 2006

    Everyone in slo knows to be wary of the Mercy Church. Prophesying, divination, apocalypticism, pentecostal charismaticism – most in the area consider them a cult. The “pastor” is a Pat Robertson on crack. Yes, they are visible, but only because they are looking for a new round of unsuspecting victims, I mean, parishioners.


  • Jim
    September 23, 2006

    Anonymous,
    So what is your problem with prophesying? Wow, you really have an axe to grind. Lighten up.
    Jim


  • skylana
    October 18, 2008

    i agree with anonymous…jim, if you lived here, you’d understand. they’re insane, abrasive and highly inappropriate to the people they constantly try to bombard with their way of thinking, which they believe is the only way, their church… they want to be a global church… basically take over all other christian churches. creepy… and they’re not a vineyard, they used to be, but they can’t be because now they are g12… even more creepy. i know, because i used to go there, until it got out of control.
    pat robertson on crack- perfect definition.


  • carl
    September 27, 2009

    I have to say that I’m impressed by the effort of this church to reach out to the local area. It would seem to me that they have a positive impact in the community and surrounding areas. A sunday visit to this church and I found they they are a loving excited church! They have a clear vision and goals and its a breath of fresh air to find a church that is so eager to impact the world. I asked around to a few people who are part of other churches and they had only great things to say about mercy church. Everyone is entitled to an opinion…but please don’t bash someone (or some church) just because you don’t believe like them. That just leaves people with a one sided view of things and isn’t helpful :)


    • honest
      June 7, 2012

      Actually they are not bashing they are being honest. Is everyone friendly at this church? For the most part. Do they push their beliefs on you? YES. Too much pressure? YES cult-like activity? ABSOLUTELY! Are they accepted by other churches in the area? Also yes tho I cant understand why except that maybe because the pastors of the other churches dont fully understand what’s going on there. I’ve been trying to be a part of this church for 3 years. been trying to ignore the problems and enjoy the best worship service ever. But after attending the church long enough you start to see what the above people are talking about. All I can say is if you have a mind of your own don’t go there cuz they will only judge you for your questions and make it seem like you’re the problem not them. Which I though was the case until I started finding out about all the people who’ve left that church and why.



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