Pastor Ray Varnado wanted to get his Reaching New People team started doing member-guest [or elbow] activities. So he decided to demonstrate a member-guest activity by hosting a barbecue in his backyard. He invited his neighbors and a couple of members of his Reaching New People team. It turns out God had something surprising waiting just past the barbecue pit. Click the video below to hear Ray’s story:

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Ray Varnado Wedding Story

I met my neighbors and really went after them.

I worked an elbow [member-guest] event. [Said to myself,] “Dog-gone it, I don’t know if I like this or not.”

The next thing you know I had an elbow event, a little barbecue. I realized a marriage and talked about it. The next thing you know, Would I do a wedding for his sister. My lord, I never met his sister, OK? So I meet this lady and no relations with any church, huge family.

It’s really funny, they liked me right off the bat. I liked them and really, my heart went out for them. [They were ] unchurched. And so we talked a little bit and I said, “Well, let’s go through a Christian wedding. Let’s talk about it.” So, when we got down to the part about what scripture she’d like to have she said, “No, I don’t want any scriptures.” and I said, “What do you mean, you don’t want any scriptures?” She said, “Well, of all of my friends that are going to be there, you probably the only one who goes to church outside of my fiance’s family. They don’t really believe in God, strictly believe in a higher power.” So I explained to her real quick that we needed to pray. That she was more than welcome to go to the Justice of the Peace. But I’d reached out in the name of Jesus. We talked for a while and talked for a while, had a prayer and before the left, they said, “Would you please do it?”

We only counseled twice. I did this wedding a few weeks ago, a huge wedding. I’ve never seen so many beautiful people in my life, with tattoos and piercings that I had ever seen. I was pastor in New Orleans, Lisa. It beat all I’ve ever seen these beautiful people and Wow. I think I witnessed off of 13th chapter of Corinthians. You can’t go wrong with the love chapter. I met a whole bunch of new friends, unbelievable. Several have been coming to church. I’ve been trying to get some more elbow events where I can pass them on.

Let me celebrate, celebrate the success of that connection with the family and a whole group of people.

If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have done it.If it wasn’t for you, I would not have done that. I would not have done a wedding in two weeks, OK.

Well, good for you.