Something we’re trying to do in the Evangelism and Mission team is figure out how Jewel Lake Parish can be God’s gift to the Sand Lake region of Anchorage.
As we figure that out, I’m going to make a note of ways I’ve heard about other churches being “God’s Gift” to their own communities. Here are four:
Williamsport United Methodist Church in Maryland provided one of the pit stops in the annual Bike Virginia Tour:
One of many scheduled stops on the five-day route, the church offered bicyclists refreshments such as homemade doughnuts and chicken soup, bathroom breaks and a place to relax and meet new people. The church also provided a booth that bikers could ride through if they desired prayer. The church was designated the best rest stop on the tour.
St. John’s Covenant church in Portland, Oregon provides meals for the girl’s basketball team.
The girls often endured three-hour bus trips to away games and needed better nourishment than fast-food stops. “Girls’ sports don’t get all the resources and attention as guys’ sports, so we decided to kind of ‘adopt’ the team,” [Pastor Andy] Goebel says, adding that the church members also went to games and tried to get to know the players.
LifePoint church in San Tan Valley, Arizona, offered a “drive-in movie night” to connect with preschoolers to fourth graders and their families.
Children either bring a cardboard box big enough to sit in or use one the church provides to make a car. Last year, some 300 “drivers” customized their cars at a body shop, tire store, license plate center, and department of motor vehicles at the church. Finally, they were admitted to view Cars 2. … The even included affordable concessions and the church’s worship band performing the stong “Life is a Highway.”
Along with a local Christian radio station, the People Church of Princeton, Illinois, offered a “Single Mom’s Day Out” to about 20 women.
Women preregister for the free event and receive breakfast, spa services, car care, a take-home lunch for their family, a gift bag and the opportunity to shop in the church’s Abundant Blessings room — a room of donated new and gently used gifts ranging from baby items to furniture. While the women focused on themselves for the day, church volunteers supervised their 30 children at a different site with snacks and activities.
Cornerstone Church of God offered to repair recreation complex in Meadville, PA.
“The church took on our picnic shelters, which were in very poor condition,” [the complex’s director] says. The team, which included members of a few other congregations, didn’t stop there. Volunteers also pained and landscaped the complex. Throughout Meadville, 50 volunteers left their mark. They repaired a park and parts of the Crawford County Humane Society as well as helped residents reinforce a retaining wall, cut wood, and build gardens.
Harvest Church of Billings, Montana, a dozen-year old church plant with more than 2000 members, doesn’t have a worship center, but they do have a $5 million water park.
[Church planter Vern Streeter] read an article about urban planners excluding churches on the grounds that they don’t provide goods, services, and taxes. … Vowing that “we would be so relevant that even the most ardent critic of Christianity would be bummed if we ceased to exist,” church leaders cultivated relationships with city officials and formed the nonprofit Better Billings Foundation.
The first four are from the March/April issue of Outreach Magazine. The last two are from the September/October issue.