Carols in the Park had been one of the most highly anticipated events on Gymea Baptist Church’s calendar. For just over twenty years Gymea Baptist Church has hosted a live carols event as a witness to the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus! Over the years this event has attracted ever-larger crowds from their wider community. They had every intention of continuing this tradition until lock-down restrictions disrupted the event not once, but twice.
“In 2020 the Carols committee pivoted to a pre-recorded online event that was rebranded Carols in Your Backyard” says Marc Rader, Senior Pastor. “This resource was made available to anyone who wished to live-stream the event and was picked up by quite a few churches in our area and beyond. Our reach was between three and five times what we would have had at a live event.”
Despite the success of “Carols in Your Backyard 2020” it was only ever intended to be a temporary solution in the first year of lock-down. However, the extended lock-downs of 2021 meant Gymea Baptist again pivoted to a live-streamed “Carols in Your Backyard”, this time a little wiser from the lessons learned the year before. Once again, the event was made freely available to any church who wished to live-stream it.
“Things had begun to open up and other churches were able to host their own carols events, but we still heard from churches how useful it was to be able to host a live-streamed carols in their car-parks and halls for their own communities.”
The success – and the potential – of a professionally recorded live-streamed Carols event was becoming difficult to ignore. “When we considered the reach of a live-streamed carols, the potential to resource churches from all across the state, and the rising complexity and cost of hosting a large local carols event, we decided Carols in Your Backyard was here to stay” says Marc.
The vision is to provide the same pre-recorded, high-quality, professional, Christian Carols event and build on the number of partnerships with churches (and others) who will host smaller events across the city, state, and country to reach their local community. To do this “Carols in Your Backyard” will be an annual, free and unbranded event. This allows it to be a regular part of any church’s annual outreach planning.
“The live component would be up to the local church but could include the sorts of activities we used to do in the lead-up to the event such as face painting, live nativity, jumping castles, and food” suggests Marc. These smaller events, held in parking lots, parks, reserves, and maybe even a few backyards, will allow for greater evangelistic impact as it is easier to build relationships and extend an invitation in a smaller group than in an event of thousands,
Belinda Lakelin, Evangelism Coordinator for Gymea Baptist Church adds “our aim is to produce a high-quality carols show that people are proud to invite their friends along to every year. We see it as one way of “sowing seeds”. As people come along, make some friends, sing carols about Jesus and hear a short message that suggests the birth of Jesus is worth exploring further, we hope to plant seeds, and trust that God will make them grow.”
“We really want to maximise the potential of Carols in Your Backyard and make it as simple as possible for other churches to run” Belinda explains. “So we are also creating other resources such as tips for children’s activities and on having conversations.” If you would like to know how your church can host “Carols in Your Backyard” or see a promo of this year’s event, email Belinda and she will keep you updated: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.carolsinyourbackyard.com.au.