Testimony Tuesday: Derek Allen (C2 Church, Miami)

As I walked up to two ladies, I could tell they were skeptical. “Would you like a free bottle of water?” I asked them, and one cautiously, said “yes.” The other lady just looked at me with a very suspicious look on her face. “You think I’m trying to pull something, don’t you?” I asked, and she slowly shook her head yes. So I continued, “I’ll tell you what. I’m just going to put this bottle of water down right here, leave this card beside it, and walk away. The only catch is that I’m trying to invite you to church.”

A few years ago, God called my wife, Lindsay, and me to start Christ Centered Church (C2 Church) in Miami, and we knew that kindness outreach events, which we call Love Louds, would be an important part of our strategy to love others in the name of Jesus and reach them with the Gospel.

Even before we started meeting for worship, the C2 Church launch team participated in Love Louds across North Miami. Some of our most successful Love Louds have been: water giveaways in the medians at busy intersections (of course we wait for the light to turn red!), block parties at parks in low income neighborhoods, doughnuts giveaways at local businesses and in the carlines at local schools, free yard sales, free cookouts, and coffee giveaways in local parks.

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Through doing Kindness Outreaches, we’ve seen countless first time guests, established strong relationships with local schools and businesses, and earned a reputation in the city of North Miami of being a church that cares about the community. Two years ago, no one had ever heard of Christ Centered Church, but now, people call us when there is a need.

Rosa’s story illustrates the power of Love Louds—Rosa was a Christian, but she was struggling with her faith and was investigating Buddhism. Every Sunday morning, she used to ride her bike by our church and pass about 100 small yard signs we put out each week letting people know where and when we meet, but she never came. Then one day, someone gave her a bottle of water during one of our Love Louds, and she showed up the next week. Rosa told me, “I had to come check out a church that gives away free water!” Over the next few months, Rosa got completely plugged into our discipleship process, grew stronger in her faith, and made a recommitment to Christ before moving away to another city.

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The hardest part of Loving Loud in a place like Miami is convincing people that everything is free! In fact, we use huge signs that say “Free Water, “Free Hotdogs,” or “Free Games” and “Christ Centered Church Loves Miami”, but some people still think there is a catch. Like the lady I wanted to give a bottle of water to, people in Miami are skeptical because people aren’t normally nice unless they are up to something. But that’s the power of kindness outreach—it’s not normal to do something nice and expect nothing in return. That’s also why Love Louds and kindness outreach create natural bridges to the gospel. Why do we love our community and expect nothing in return? Because that’s what Jesus did for us. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

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