Category Archives: Idea Bank
One of the first projects our church did together when we got started was build a wheelchair ramp. We’re blessed with men with the tools & know how & opportunities for this work is plentiful in every community. Here’s 7 reasons why I love Ramp Building as part of a church’s local ministry:
- Access & the Gospel. There are elderly & handicapped people who feel like captives in their own homes due to lack of access. We’ve even had several people in our community that couldn’t get out of their homes without help from the Fire Dept. What a great way to be good news & share the good news with a family & neighborhood. Access to God was built through Christ (1 Peter 3:18).
- Send the carpenter types. “I never knew I had anything to offer to the church” – a carpenter type after completing a ramp project through our church in 2010. If you’re thinking about Creating Sending Capacity & Sending the Whole Church, you must think about projects for the construction gifted men in the congregation. And some men in the community jump on these projects before jumping into attending church.
- Stimulate the local economy. Ramps cost approximately $25 per foot. $800-$1,200. Buy local. Don’t ask for a discount. But be thankful & promote the business when they give it.
- Projects for Real Men. What was the last thing your church did to promote authentic manhood? Construction, Power Tools, Sweat, Rescuing the Helpless, etc. Ramp & light construction ministry bring out some of the best in men & gives them great opportunity for fellowship around a challenging mission.
- Father & Son Projects. Looking forward to my boys being a little older so they can get more involved in ramp building, but I’ve enjoyed seeing a few Father & Son moments on ramp projects through my church. Also, have had great opportunities to explain the why behind church & ministry to my boys through describing the life situations of people we have served through construction ministry.
- Partnerships with local agencies. Your local Council on Aging, Easter Seals, Parish or County Social Services Dept., local Fire Depts. & others can give you a list to get started on. Also, chances are, your church has elderly, widows, people with handicaps, with access issues in their homes now. “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” Galatians 6:10.
- Monuments to a Caring Church. Ramp building makes for long memories in a community. “That church came and built that.” Memories that make it harder for people in neighborhoods to say that nobody cares about them. That means we’ve brought hope & made ourselves available to meet other needs.
Here’s some good tips on doing construction as a ministry & how to get started from our 2012 Faith in Action Roundtable.
A few ramp projects completed this summer by the men of Bridge Church & our partners. The first was for an elderly deaf man in a wheelchair. The second was for a member of a sister congregation who had fallen & broken her leg & now faced some disabilities.
A 2006 survey of churches found that “nearly 95% of the churches’ ministries were for the members alone. Indeed, many churches had no ministries for those outside the congregation” (found in Tom Rainer article 7 Deadly Sins of Dying Churches). Well today it seems a growing number of churches are looking outside the walls as they strategize for ministry & missions opportunities. And immediately outside the walls to the local community, not just overseas. Seeing this trend in our area, the Northshore Baptist Association recently sponsored a Faith in Action Roundtable to collaborate with churches who are doing hands on ministry projects off campus. Here is the Handouts from that meeting which includes thoughts on why we should, how to get started, and a lot of tips & tricks & helpful forms that a church can use in planning ministry opps.
Lots of reason to look outward:
- Increasing needs & decreasing government funds for the needy.
- More lanes needed for people to serve through the church.
- Increasing number of people who are out of the pool of current church outreach methods. Higher % of churches fishing for the same 40% of the people.
Looking forward to future Roundtable’s & Collaboration with Outward Focused churches.
And here’s a few other individual forms that are useful for planning projects:
- Work Site Info Form-English
- Work Site Info Form-Spanish
- Res Safety Awareness Form- English 2010
- Res Safety Awareness Form-Spanish 2010
- Access Ramp Material List
- Blank Material List
- Example Paint List
- Roofing Material List
Special thanks to Seth Green, a World Changers Construction Coordinator, for his help with our Roundtable.
Our church & association of churches conducts a lot of Block Parties. Bridge Church does so many we decided to get our own Block Party Trailer. Our Associations Block Party Trailer is used at least 40 times each year for a wide variety of events. Recently I was asked if Block Parties are effective or just something else to add to a long list of things that keep Christians busy, but not bearing fruit. Here’s a few reasons why I think Block Parties are a great tool in the outreach strategy of a missional church:
1. GATHERING. Someone said there is three keys to church planting or church growth: 1) Gathering people, 2) Gathering people, 3) Gathering people. The Evangelistic Block Party is a great way to gather people or gather where people are & build relationships, share the gospel, cultivate community, & have fun doing it.
2. INCARNATION. “The word became flesh & blood & moved into the neighborhood” John 1:14 (MSG). A Block Party is a great way to get the church building relationships where people are. We do Block Parties in neighborhoods & subdivisions, at local parks. I also love to incarnate at the communities Block Party type of events. Why try to gather people when they’re already going to be gathered somewhere else. Just build the right relationships, show you care, & add Incarnational Christians to the party! Some good places to incarnate through Block Partying:
- Multi-Housing complexes. Many times the manager already has a budget for community events. He/she just doesn’t have the time or know how to pull them off.
- Subdivisions & neighborhoods. Use your yard or the communities common space.
- Area Events. Every community has a festival of some kind. Get involved, pay for space, or whatever you have to do to add your life to the party.
In the incarnation, Jesus got close to our needs. Be prepared when you get close to the needs of people to be changed & challenged. Incarnation can hurt if you have thin skin. That’s probably why we don’t do it that much. I can send a postcard mailer & 40-50% of the people will throw it away. No harm to me b/c I don’t see their reaction. When you’re there, you do see their reaction. You’ve got to know the season, which leads us to #3…
3. SPIRITUAL FARMING. There are really three reasons for any outreach event a congregation or small group conducts: 1) CULTIVATION, 2) PLANTING SEEDS; 3) HARVESTING. Block Party can be an environment for all three to take place. And it’s important to know ahead of time which one of these you are doing so that you can measure effectiveness.
Using Block Parties to CULTIVATE. Cultivation is an important part of evangelistic ministry & it’s something that we are leaving off our strategy as churches in the West (see Dr. Chuck Kelly’s great message about Spiritual Farming here) Why? Probably because it doesn’t net immediate results. But it is necessary for healthy multiplication of disciples over the long haul. If I plant seeds without knowing & improving the conditions of the soil, my garden may have a short life.
We’ve used Block Parties to Cultivate or initiate relationships in new communities over the past three years & it’s helped us in several ways:
- To show apartment managers & community leaders that we care.
- To test the spiritual soil or readiness of an area or population segment for the Gospel.
- To find the persons of peace in a neighborhood.
- To train a team & work out the kinks in the “how to’s” of Block Partying
What does a cultivative Block Party look like? No real agenda. Loud music. Food. Opportunities to interact & engage in conversation. A lot of “this is what we’re about” talk. And a hardy “WE’LL BE BACK’ when it’s over. Focus is on finding those few people that show interest & readiness to hear the gospel.
Here’s a list of goals that one of our Block Party teams recently wrote up for a cultivative event we do each month in our city:
- learn/memorize the name of one child you speak to (so you can call them by name next month when you see them)
- tell at least 10 people (total): who Bridge Church is, what we are about, and what we believe
- see at least one person/family we meet at the BP at another Bridge Church event – (“If you like what we do here at the Block Party, you would love coming to ______ (Our neighborhood block parties, Guy’s/Girl’s Night, Outdoor Movie night, FIA, Sunday morning service).”
- each time we speak with someone, have the conversation go beyond, “what type of balloon would you like”, “would you like a fan”, “what color face paint do you want”….actually engage others in conversation, “what is your name”, “where do you work”, “how long have you lived in this area”.
Using Block Parties to PLANT SEEDS. Cultivating & planting seeds are closely related. In gardening you’re often doing both at the same time. In Evangelistic ministry like Block Partying it denotes another step of intentionality. For us in some of our new communities where the soil has been hard, this has looked like…
- introducing New Testaments & giving them away to everyone who attends
- having a Mic & having someone give a quick testimony as to why we’re there
- inviting people to a follow up event like a Bible Study in the area
- or inviting them to church
Using Block Parties as a HARVEST tool. It takes a season to grow a harvest. It also takes mature plants, the right conditions, the right tools for a harvest, & a somewhat knowledgeable harvester. For an evangelistic Block Party to be a Harvest event you should have the trust of the people that have given you permission, people who are ready to harvest – i.e. that can share the gospel & lead someone to put their faith in Christ, & the right harvest tools. Some ways to use Block Parties to harvest:
- Have 12 or more people trained to actively share the gospel with the crowd.
- Have a Prayer or Spiritual Interest tent designated with trained counselors stationed there.
- Share the gospel & give an opportunity to respond from a stage. Utilizing an evangelists, an entertainer of some kind, or a personal testimony of someone in the group.
Block parties can be an easy & fun tool to have in your outreach strategy. For best results apply gardening principles:
- Know what season you’re in – cultivating, planting, or harvesting.
- Plant generously. the more seeds you plant the more you’ll harvest.
- Prepare for a harvest.
- Have fun! Christian should bring life to every party!
If you’re interested in doing a block party yourself, start at our Northshore Baptist Associations Block Party Trailer page, or join Bridge Church this week at several Block Parties we’re doing:
- Columbia Street Block Party in downtown Covington, tonight, Friday, June 29, 6-8pm. Cultivative event. We’ll be painting faces & passing out balloon animals & making new friends.
- Oak Villa Mobile Home Park, Sunday, July 1, 5-7pm. We’ve been cultivating & planting seeds for two years in this community. Getting ready to start harvesting!
- The Groves Apartments, Monday, July 2 5:30-7pm. Cultivating relationships in a brand new apartment complex.
- Madisonville 4th of July Celebration, July 4, 2pm-until. Incarnating at a local 4th of July party. This one’s going to be a blast!
What kind of Capital does an Incarnational, Missional Church require? Two Ideas our church has acted upon:
1) Faith in Action Tool Trailer. Stocked with tools to be used for light construction projects in the community & beyond.
2) Block Party Trailer to help engage at community events, parties, etc. Stocked with inflatable, outdoor sound system, tables, tents, games, snow cone machine, popcorn machine, outdoor movie screen, etc.
Check out Bridge Church to get involved with one of the above.
What does your church use for Community Engagement? What are your ideas for doing church beyond the walls?
Our church partners with a few area Multi-Housing complexes to provide New Resident Welcome Baskets. We also want to make them available for the rest of us to bless new neighbors with as well. We stuffed a bunch at our last Faith In Action Sunday. Here’s the list of stuff in ours, which was put together by our Creative Team. Their leader Angie McGinty sent me this list.
- Basket (I have been lucky enough to find some the perfect size in the dollar section at Target, but I think they are out now)
- Archer Farms Brand (@Target): Box of cheddar sourdough cheese straws and caramel macadamia popcorn in the big clear container (by chips). I picked these because they look nicer and more gourmet if you will.
- Some type of gender neutral note pad (I found ones with magnets in the Target dollar section)
- A nice pen to go with notepad (I usually only get these if they have some in the dollar section…nice pens are not cheap)
- Antibacterial hand soap (I get the nice ones from Bath and Body Works..they were running a special for 7 of them for $20 but they may not be running that anymore. If not, I know that Target has some nice ones like the organic hand soaps) I think adding a nice soap with a great smell really makes the baskets kick up a notch as opposed to just some random everyday soap. I still have 4 of these left.
- A nice dish towel/hand towel. You may be able to find some cute Spring ones on sale at Hobby Lobby right now. I got a neutral color from Target for a few bucks.
- Thick wire edge ribbon to tie around the basket (Hobby Lobby has great ribbon and usually on sale)
Cost of each basket: less than $25
- Every multi-housing complex had a partnering church to welcome new residents.
- We noticed & took responsibility for new movers into our neighborhoods & cultivated relationships during this important season in their lives.
What else would you include? Does your church do anything like this?
Most people want to make a difference in the world. Ability, time, and permission is often in question among us church goers. How can I be a blessing to those around me? Here’s a simple strategy that anybody can implement. I heard this last week during the Verge Conference from Dave Ferguson. BLESS:
B - Begin w/prayer.
Pray for opportunities and open doors. Pray for the heart of God for those around you.
L – Listen.
If we’re willing to listen, people will tell us their needs, hurts, desires, questions.
E – Eat.
Build relationships. Do coffee or lunch. Invite someone over for dinner.
S – Serve.
When we listen and build relationships with people we will know what they need and can serve them.
S – Story.
It’s incomplete without sharing the story of Christ. His is the story promised to bring blessing to every nation.
What if you committed to do at least one of these each day? Just one. If so, you’d find yourself on the way to making a difference from where you are.
“Pray that the Master’s Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response” http://bible.us/2Thess3.1.MSG
In my last post I talked about 4 elements of Viral content. God’s design for the Gospel was for it to spread virally as we see in 2 Thess 3:1. Here’s one practical thing you can do to in this regard: have dinner with some friends.
One way the gospel spread in the New Testament was “house to house.”
- Acts 2:46 (NASB) “day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart”
- Acts 5:42 (NASB) “every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
- Acts 20:20 (NASB) “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house”
For the New Testament Church this was out of necessity – they had no buildings – and conviction – practicing hospitality was a core practice (Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9). But there’s also a strategic advantage to using our homes and hospitality to spread the Gospel. There’s just something significant and sticky about sharing a meal with others that’s unforgettable and life changing. We tend to let our guards down around the dinner table and open up our lives to an extent that relationships are propelled forward and opportunities to share the gospel are cultivated. That may be why Jesus made this a core practice of his earthly ministry. One of my favorite post by Stuff Christians Like author Jon Acuff was about this:
What an ineffective communicator Jesus was by our modern standards of platform building. He could have spoken to hilltops of thousands of people each night, but instead he wasted time at dinner with a handful of tax collectors and strangers.
Want to change the world? It’s easy. Have a long, time-wasting, friendship-generating dinner with someone.
Alan Hirsch said it this way in his book Untamed:Reactivating Missional Discipleship:
If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger, or a poor person, or a work colleague into their home for a meal with the family once a week, we would literally change the world by eating!
Sounds like fun to me! Allow your home to be more than a refuge from the world. Use hospitality and meal making as a platform for your faith in Christ and a way to build relationships that will lead to the gospel spreading. So, pull out the favorite recipe’s, clear off the dining table, open up your life, invite a neighbor over, and go viral w/your faith.
As part of our Incarnational Action strategy our church does regular events at West St. Tammany’s largest mobile home park. Our resident missionaries at the park, Mauricio and Rebecca Hance, came up with a great idea of having hot chocolate and breakfast snacks at the bus stop for the 40+ kids that catch the bus there.
Cost: $50 or so. And food is a great conversation starter even for the skeptical. Read Mauricio’s recent post about the experience here.
What if every multi-housing complex had a Bus Stop Breakfast Buffet once per month? Could your small group or Sunday School class or family adopt a complex? Other ideas?
- Ping Pong table – $67 on Black Friday.
- Air Hockety table – $30, second hand but near perfect condition
- Dart Board – $40, including plywood and chalkboard paint to make it a scoreboard and barrier
- Arcade Hoops Game – $100
- Interaction with kids – priceless
- Neighborhood kids hanging out in our garage – priceless
- Neighborhood dads taking each other on in darts – priceless
- My 9-year old beating me in Ping-Pong after two weeks of practice – not so good
Conviction: Our home is not our refuge, Jesus is. Our home is a place of engagement and discipleship and relationship building and refuge for others looking for a light in a darkness. How are you using your space to influence others for Christ and build in intentional interaction with kids and families?
And, I’m also proud of my Bio-Sand Water filter identical to the one we install in Chiapas, Mexico with GLED and that is used by missionaries around the world where water is a problem. $150 puts one of these in a village home, providing pure life saving water for 15+ years.