Category Archives: Faith In Action

“It all started when…”

Living On Mission is a lifestyle, not just an event. I overheard two great stories recently that impressed this truth on me once again.

“I’ll not charge you the impound fee on your car if you go to church with me this Sunday.”

A Tow Truck Driver said this to a young man who was drug addicted and being arrested. That young man went to church and began a journey toward Christ that now, years later, has him planting a new church in Louisiana.

Thank God for On Mission Tow Truck Drivers!

“I’m not worried about the van. Just glad you are ok.”

A small church worked hard and bought a brand new van. A drunk driver ran off the road, hit and totaled the van. The Pastor of the church approached the young driver with forgiveness, concern, and prayer. That started that young man on a journey toward Christ that now, years later, has him planting a new church in Louisiana.

Thank God for On Mission small church Pastors!

Generosity, Forgiveness, Concern, Prayerfulness, Inviting. These should all be rhythms of life for the on mission Christian. Small acts of obedience in the moment, may seem insignificant, BUT KEEP WATCHING! Years from now, they may turn into somebody saying, “It all started when…”

A Few Simple Holiday Outreach Ideas

Yesterday our church kicked off Advent with a number of simple service projects that any church, small group, family, or individual can afford. These make a big impact with a small investment of time & money.

1. Gift cards for ICU Waiting Rooms. At any given time in your community there are people reeling from traumatic events or devastating illness. Their families can be found in waiting rooms at your local hospital. Pick up a handful of Gift Cards to the closest restaurants & coffee shops, drop by & give them out with a “Praying for You” card from your church. Offer to pray for anyone you get to talk with. Simple act of kindness can breathe life into someone that is overwhelmed with bad news. If no one is there, give them to the nurses desk & they’ll pass them out for you. These nurses could also use prayer & encouragement. Call ahead & find out when visiting times are so that you know when people are in the waiting rooms. $100 for 5-10 gift cards.

IMG_56232. Care packages for the Homeless. If you live in a metro area or near the interstate, you probably get an invitation to serve the homeless everyday at area red lights. Should I give them money? is a constant question. Few of us carry cash anymore. Doing nothing is not desirous for most believers. How about make up some simple care packages with some goodies that that can be passed out the window of a car. Keep 3-5 in your car at all times. $10 per bag.

3. Christmas Decor for Nursing Home Residents. Go to your local nursing home & ask for a list of residents with no local family. The reality for these residents is often few visits if any, few seasonal decorations for their walls, few convenient items like warm socks or lotion. Offer to pray for them. Find out what they want or need & plan a return visit. Spend some time listening to their story. Yesterday, some of our team got to meet a lady who was 105 years old! Incredible story. $25 for a few Christmas decorations & simple cards colored by kids.

IMG_57214. Fruit baskets for Elderly shut-ins. Local shut-ins are lonely. They often feel trapped. They often have simple to-do’s around their home that can be taken care of in less than an hour. Making up fruit baskets to deliver to them gives you a reason to encourage them with a visit & find out other needs that your faith community can take care of on their behalf.  $25 for a bowl or basket & fruit & other goodies to go int them.

All day I’ve been hearing stories from those who delivered these items to people in our community. Simple acts of kindness make a big difference & the holidays offer many opportunities for us to extend kindness & plant seeds in the hearts of people in need.

What other similar outreach ideas have you or your church done at Christmas?

 

 

 

#Outreach Idea: Gift Baskets for Teacher’s Lounges

We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools.” Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing (see Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:3-4). We found one way that is enthusiastically accepted 100% of the time at our local schools: stuffing gift baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays, & end of school. Snacks, healthy & not so healthy. Homemade baked goods. Office supplies & teacher gear. And always with a note of encouragement.

What are other ways that you or your church have been a blessing to your local schools?

WHAT IF every teachers lounge was filled with encouragement from local churches all year long?

Point Forward with Acts of Service

forwardThrough our lives, Jesus is showing the world the kind of king he is and the nature of the kingdom he rules. As his servants, we point forward with our acts of service to a far better world where Jesus’s rule will be experienced everywhere. Every one we serve experiences a taste of life in the kingdom.

Jeff Vanderstelt in Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life

>> Check out my Previous post about Saturate.

Outreach FAQ: “What if we’ve tried that already?”

When it comes to outreach a lot of Christians & churches usually quit too soon. Why? Two reasons:

  1. We’ve been trained to think that if we don’t “close the deal” & get “decisions” or have a big crowd every time we reach out & share the gospel, then we’ve failed. It was the great evangelist Billy Graham who once said, “it takes 20 people to lead someone to Christ. The first person thinks they had nothing to do with it. The last person thinks it was all him.” You never know if you’re #1 or #20. Be faithful, leave the results to God.
  2. We don’t account for the need for cultivation. Outreach & Evangelism are like farming. Everything tends to happen in seasons. There’s a season for cultivating the ground, a season for planting seeds, & a season for harvesting. Knowing which season you’re in is the key to success. And in today’s cultural climate with Biblical literacy at all time lows & culture rot firmly entrenched, you must be prepared for hard ground & cultivation wherever you are.

So, if you’re church or group or family is planning an outreach event, use these rules of thumb:

  • Pray & ask God to help you imagine what kind of outreach will best reach your target population.
  • Plan for at least two events. My answer to people that say: “We’ve already tried that” is usually, if you’ve done it once, that doesn’t count as “tried.” Keep going!
  • Make adjustments, don’t quit. You’re plan may need tweaking, but if God has moved you to do something, don’t give up. “We tried that once” will seem like a small, weak excuse when we stand before him responsible for the souls of those around us.

I like the quip, “There’s no such thing as failures, only those that quit too soon.” Cultivate, plant, harvest. Don’t give up. All heaven is behind you! Go! (Matthew 28:18-20).

5 Ways to Have Fun and Reach Out this Fall

Fall is a favorite time of year for all of us in the South as weather cools & Football season kicks off. Fall also offers some great open doors for reaching out to the community through your church or small group. Here’s a few ideas for getting on the “Go…” (Matthew 28:19-20) this Fall:

1) Serve the Local School – No matter how open that your local schools are to church involvement, there are ways for you to serve them. And no better time to start then right at the beginning of the school year. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pray. Host a prayer meeting for school officials & teachers & send notes letting them know you’re praying for them. And of course, have special prayer for teachers & administrators that attend your church. Recognize them as missionaries to the next generation.
  • Lead a school supply drive for teachers or kids in low income school districts. Most teachers will have a list of needs or wants for their classroom & will know the kids that may need help buying school clothes & supplies.
  • Stock the teachers lounges of local schools with baked goods & notes of encouragement from your church for the first two weeks or so of school.
  • Get involved in the schools mentoring or tutoring program.
  • And of course, encourage members to volunteer, get involved in PTA, & add salt & light to one of the most influentials places in your community (like it or not).

2) Fall Festivals – Whether its a Halloween alternative event like Trunk or Treats or just a Fall Harvest Party, Fall Festival type events have proven to be great cultivative and seed planting opportunities for many churches. During the summer, new people relocate to our communities & a special event that invites EVERYONE to your church can give them an opportunity to connect with the body of Christ. Don’t forget to plan for follow-up & celebrate the work of volunteers who plan & implement.

3) Outdoor Movie Nights – With weather getting milder & days getting shorter, outdoor movie nights make for a great fall outreach event. Our church has done these in local parks, in subdivision common spaces, or front & back yards. All you need is a projector, outdoor movie screen or large white sheet, & a popcorn machine. If you’re trying to cultivate relationships you can show a newer kid flick or classic movie. If you’d like to be a little more evangelistic & harvest oriented, you can choose a more evangelistic or directly Christian film. Another lesson learned, made for TV kids movies work great, b/c they are shorter & keep short attention spans engaged.

4) Tailgate Party – With Football season kicking off in the Fall, the words Tailgate Party will be plastered in every store & commercial coming our way. Redeem this seasonal phenomenon by hosting a Tailgate party at your church with great food & a big screen & speakers blaring the pre-game show &/or game. There is also a variety of Christian sports personality testimonies on sites like Sports Spectrum & I am Second that can be shown during half time or at a certain point during the game to make the event a little more evangelistic.

5) Hands on Service Project – Cooler weather also makes for a great time to get your hands dirty with a hands on Missions Project. In every community there is elderly & needy residents living in substandard housing. Connect with local relief agencies like the Council on Aging, Volunteers of America, or Parish Housing Authority about needs for wheelchair ramps, weatherization projects, etc. Or poll church members about widows & elderly living around them or in your congregation that may have needs. Wheelchair ramps are one of my favorite Fall projects.

What Fall Outreach ideas have worked in your area?

 

The Recipe for On Mission Living

Heart + Eyes + Imagination + Action

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Heart – Desire for God & Others

We are on mission for something. Often it’s for ourselves. Getting our heart set on God’s purposes is always the first step in life on mission. Get started with 1 Peter 3:10-12.

What issues of the heart are keeping you from being on mission for God & others?

Eyes – Awareness of the Needs Around Us

The Bible says Jesus “saw the crowds” & then “felt compassion” Matthew 9:36. Are you aware of the many needs around you? If you think you have to travel to a distant place to find human need, then your eyes are not open. Look around.

Imagination – Ideas to Engage the Needs Around Us

Many of our failures in mission as churches are failures of imagination. We can’t imagine ourselves being a solution for our communities. I pray for the innovation & courage of the men who so wanted their crippled friend to see Jesus, that they climbed on top of the roof, ripped a hole in the roof, & lowered him down at Jesus’ feet. Mark 2:1-12.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” May we not be bound by weak excuses & lack of imagination in reaching our communities.

Action – Implement & Execute Outreach Strategies

Many have a heart for God, are aware of the needs, even have the ideas, but never launch & take action to reach out. Take out your calendar & write down the next date you intend on inviting a neighbor for dinner or coffee. When is your church’s next outreach event? When is your unchurched friend having surgery? Who is in transition that you can bless? Mission needs a calendar & a plan of action!

Write down these symbols in a prominent place & use them to pursue life on mission, for others.

The Importance of Initiating New Relationships

 

From our Basic Training for Church Planting module on Context & Cultivation:

Billy Graham once said that it takes 20 people to lead someone to Christ. The first person thinks they had nothing to do with it. The last person thinks it was all him. The work of cultivation was those first 19 people. And if they’re not careful, they can think their effort was all for nothing.

Smile. Learn to say, “Hello!” Introduce yourself. Be interested in others. Bake cookies for the new neighbors. Get involved in a community organization. If it takes 20, somebody has got to be #1.

Are You Producing Thanksgiving?

Generosity and on mission living comes with a promise: It will “produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV). Or as another translation says, “Then many people will thank God…” (2 Corinthians 9:11 CEV), as a response to the generous, on mission Christian.

  • Who is giving thanks today, because of you and your investment in God’s kingdom?
  • Has your life on mission & in obedience to God produced thanksgiving in others?
  • Is the community giving thanks for your church because of the on mission members scattering for their good?

A goal for next year: Produce Thanksgiving to God in others by following Jesus into life ON MISSION.

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Missional Pastor’s Appreciation

IMG_0332What do you get the Pastor of a Missional Church when Pastor Appreciation Sunday falls on a weekend that the church SCATTERS instead of GATHERING? A Mean Tool Belt! One of the best Pastor’s Appreciation Gift I’ve ever gotten. Only problem is, now my wife thinks I can fix all the stuff around the house myself :/.

And a few pics from our Faith in Action Sunday. We worshiped at a local park, did home makeover projects for elderly residents & a single mom in Covington, & sponsored a family day for inmate families at a local jail:

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Before & After for an elderly couple in Covington

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Before & After for a single mom in Covington

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Father & Son moments

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Block Party for inmate families at our local jail.

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