I tried this once.
I selected a restaurant and, as an outreach event, invited all of the youth to bring their friends to a pizza restaurant and I would pay the tab. I was thinking that possibly, just maybe thirty would show up but when they heard the prefix FREE 140 people came through the doors. At the end of the night the conto (bill) turned out to be a measley seven hundred Euro. Well, honestly, I didn’t have that kind of money but since the church was so encouraged by the turn-out of non-Christians they chipped in for half. In actual fact, a fellow came to Christ on that night (Manolo) and he still serves the Lord to this day. My problem was all in a failure to clearly communicate what I was hoping for, so this time I told J and A to be super clear about what you are offering to do. They were, and with sign up sheets in hand, they landed 45 takers.
In reality, it was their home church (Chapel Ridge Free Methodist in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada) and other friends, who threw in almost a $1,000 to treat the believers here in Italy and Slovenia. It is an outward demonstration of Christian affection for brothers and sisters half way across the globe. At the end of the evening, the entire group stood and yelled “Thank you! Chapel Ridge!”
Well, I needn’t tell you that this turned out to be a smashing success and J and A were received warmly. They now have “Rock Star” status in Parma. Before the evening was over, I prayed for several and some who do not go to church had their objections to Christianity obliterated by the friendliness and fun expressed throughout the room.
Oh, by the way, this event came out to 327 Euro and we think worth every penny.
I believe that the Gospel is visible as well as verbal and when people see others who have nothing in common all as one family it is an incredible, compelling image in a world full of loneliness and estrangement.