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What We Have Learned: Be Creative

January 25, 2011

From time to time people ask about what we have learned about community impact from doing what we do. For the next few weeks I plan on sharing some of what we have discovered these past six plus years of trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

How many churches help with food in your community? Four? Five? Do you have a local ministry that is not connected with any church that helps? How many churches in your area had a food ministry at some point but don’t any longer?

Several? How about a food bank? You can go to FeedingAmerica.org and find out. Are you aware of the availability of food stamps? Do you know what it takes to receive them?

Food often comes to mind when people think about a community impact ministry. It is often a ministry when talking to churches about community impact.

In our community we have several churches that help with food. We have a community resource center that has a food pantry. We also have a local ministry made up of people from various churches that gives food out once a month.

We have seen more than one church start and close food ministries over the pasts several years. We watched as they began. Then observed as they discovered they were not raising enough food to meet the requests. We watched as they turned to the community for support, please bring us food, and then followed them as they closed down the operation.

Is their a need for food ministry? Certainly but as Jesus says in Luke 14:28-30, you need to count the cost. Too many ministries are simply added so that we can say we have a ministry to help the community. Please don’t do it for that reason, get creative and find out what the less fortunate of your community need. It might be food but you might find a better place to focus your resources and aid.

Talk to people in your community who know the needs. Local social service providers, hospital case workers and the counselors at your schools. Get creative.

We offer grocery store gift cards for food emergencies. We try to connect with local service agencies to fill a gap between what people have and what they don’t. We typically tie our assistance to some form of giving back to the community. This often takes the form of trash removal at a local park or school.

We believe this is a more creative way to meet a real need. I will be honest, we don’t advertise this fact because we know that when the word gets out we will have a long line of people with food needs. Who wouldn’t want free food if someone was giving it away? No, we try hard not to create dependency. We want people to learn to depend on Jesus Christ alone.

Another way to get creative is to search the internet. Simply do a Google search of “churches helping people in need.” You will get some of the usual requests but you can also get creative ideas to help people in need.

A friend of mine recently shared a creative way his church is impacting their community. Once a month they do something called Pass the Hat. He asks people to give what they would have spent on a meal out or coffee for the week and instead place it in the hat for someone in need. When totaled they randomly gives the money to a church member who is instructed to pass it on to someone they don’t know who they believe is in need. The stories he tells are incredible about what the Spirit is doing with this creative idea.

Who knows what might happen with your community impact if you get creative. Don’t think you have to do the same old thing.

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