Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Adventures in Community Outreach - A Day of Service

In addition to my full-time job as Creative Services Director for a radio station, I serve as the Director of Community Connections, the local outreach ministry of my church, Central: a Christ-centered church.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that occasionally I write a new entry for the series - "Adventures in Community Outreach".  These posts detail just a few of the different outreaches my church has held over the years, in hopes that you may become inspired to do something similar to reach your community.

Last June, we held a Free Market on our grounds to help those who recently transitioned into their own home from a shelter situation, or who were struggling financially and needed household items.  It was a tremendous undertaking and touched about 300 lives, but we decided it's something to carry out every few years, not annually.  

That meant we needed a new idea this June.  I spent many months praying about what that would look like, and kept coming up empty.  Because my desire was to have our next outreach take place in the community and not on our grounds, we considered doing a health fair at a church we work with in the city.  But although I thought it was the right direction, several doors closed and it was necessary to go back to the drawing board.  That made me very nervous because we had a date of June 1st set aside, and March was rapidly approaching.  One day I may learn that my timing is not God's divine timing!

Because these church-wide outreaches tend to garner 150 - 200 volunteers, I had been stuck on finding a vehicle large enough to accommodate that size group.  Slowly, through a number of encounters, God shifted my thinking, and "Central Cares Day" was born.

Central Cares Day will take place June 1st from 9 til noon.  Groups of 5, 10, or 20 people will meet for a time of prayer and encouragement before going out to perform practical acts of service at the 16 sites we've identified throughout our county:

The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Mercer Street Friends (a food bank), Choice One (a crisis pregnancy center), The Arc Mercer County (a group home), Morris Hall (a nursing home), CareTrenton.org (a group dedicated to cleaning the streets of Trenton), UIH (strengthens families by working with dads), Henry J. Austin (a health clinic), Cadwalader Learning Center, 3 homeless shelters, 3 elementary schools. and 2 community centers.

The help we will provide will be as diverse as the organizations themselves...from art projects and entertainment, to housekeeping and administrative work, from light landscaping and serving a meal to painting and repairs.  Besides wanting to positively impact our community by putting hands and feet on our faith, we sought out things that could be done by a variety of ages and abilities so that all who wanted to participate, could.  We have several locations where families even with young children can participate together, some appropriate for 12 and up and some that are for adults 18+. 

The logistics have boiled down to this...each location will provide a contact person who will be onsite while we're working, and we will identify a team leader on our end for each project.  In this way, communication can be established prior to the work being done.  The group can go in fully prepared to perform the task at hand.

An army of volunteers - 291 - will be needed for Central Cares Day.  But if your church has a smaller congregation you can still organize something similar.  Simply begin with fewer sites, or, as I hope will occur in years to come with our "Cares Day", organize several churches in your area to work together to achieve the goal!

One of the other exciting facets of this outreach is how we plan to wind things up.  After all the groups have served at their site for the 3 hours, they will gather back together at our church where we will have a time of testimony and fellowship over a picnic lunch.  So often when we hold these large outreaches, we know what has happened in our little section of the event, but we don't hear all the other stories and encounters.  We usually pull together a video of stills, but it's not the same.  By coming together for a meal and time of sharing, we will get to learn how God has taken each one of these small outreaches to create a large impact all over our county.  

Of course, in order to have all this happen, we need a few more teams of volunteers behind the scenes - my ministry team is invaluable in putting together the details, helping sign up volunteers, and more, we need those willing to prep and serve the food, set up and take down  the meal portion of the event, provide childcare for the smaller children who can't help, and most importantly, a prayer team who covers the entire event in prayer!

We are already being blessed as several organizations have sought to meet to discuss an ongoing partnership with our church.  And then there are those crazy little detail Godincidences like the yard sale where I found 82 pairs of work gloves for a fraction of the regular price.

Volunteer signups begin this coming weekend, so stay tuned for updates as Central Cares Day approaches.  I'm sure there will be many God-sightings along the way!!

No comments:

Post a Comment