This past week we had a Church Wide Outreach where we sent out 3 different teams to serve our community in practical ways. We had a leaf raking team, a free starbucks team, and a team that went to a self serve car wash and payed for every car that came in. Earlier in the week, we had our young adult small group do a free Starbucks and free laundry day outreach. God impacted many people through these outreaches. Here are some of the highlights:
1. Young Adult Small Group Outreaches
Our young adult small group has committed to doing an outreach together once a month. This past monday we sent out two teams of 4 to show God’s love in practical ways. 1 team went to Starbucks with a $200 gift card and payed for everyone’s coffee that came in for an hour! Our other team went to a local laundromat with rolls of quarters and when people came in we would say, “It’s free laundry day!” and tell those we were serving we were doing this to display the love of Christ in a practical way. We also brought coloring books for the kids and bought soda’s/waters for the customers that beat us there.
The most powerful aspect of the laundry outreach is that when we serve in God’s name, people open up to you, often about spiritual things. Since they are there doing laundry for hours sometimes, we are often able to connect with people on a very deep level. One of our team members named Jordan met a sweet couple and started getting to know them. They opened up to her that they were new to town and looking for a church. They expressed that they moved from their hometown to get away from the grief of their 17 year old son passing away last year. Jordan got to connect, minister, encourage this couple and I was able to pray over them outside in the parking lot before they left. It was very humbling for God to use us to encourage this sweet family. Pray they will connect with a local church, even if it is not ours.
2. Quarters at Self Serve Car wash
This was the first time we ever tried this outreach and it went great! We simply, much like the free laundry outreach, took a bunch of quarters to a self serve car wash, and when people pulled up, we told them that it was free car wash day today. Our team would feed the meter and keep the car wash going until the owners could finish washing their car. Our team leaders said that people were super surprised and even wanted to talk and connect with our outreach teams. Due to this fact, we are planning on not only paying for the car wash, but also washing the cars next time. We of course would give the owners that option. Anytime we can set up outreaches that we can connect with people on a deeper level, we will do it!
Many times when we are coaching other churches to start outreaches, they want to know how everything will play out before they jump in. I will tell you, if that is what you are waiting for, you will never be effective in reaching your community. We have a very Ready, Fire, Aim mentality. This outreach is a great example of just this. We had an idea, tried it out, and will adapt it next time.
Ready, Fire, Aim. Be careful NOT to Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim….
3. Leaf Raking Outreach
With Spring coming, this was the last leaf raking outreach of the season. Our team raked 1 yard, and raked up a ton of bags! It turns out that the woman that they served, had her yard raked by our church last year. We didn’t purposely rake this yard twice, but we have noticed that serving the same people on a consistent basis is an effective tool to let the community know that we are serious about showing God’s love in practical ways. We want to frequent the same areas to show our commitment and to connect with those we have previously served on a deeper level.
One manager of a local pizza joint has had his windows washed 5 or 6 times by us over the years. He came up to me last week and said, “There are a lot of churches that talk, talk, talk, but you guys actually show!”
We want, if anything, for our community to miss us if we were gone. That might be a good measuring stick on how effective you are being in serving others in practical ways. Would anyone notice if your church dissapeared?
4. Free Starbucks Outreach
At our church wide outreach, we had a team go to the same Starbucks we went to with our young adult small group and pay for everyone that came in for an hour. The best way to do this is to put around $200 to $300 on a gift card, find a table to sit at, and tell the Starbucks employee that when people order, tell them that the people at “That” table payed for your coffee today. People naturally will come over and ask who you are. We like to sit outside and when people come out, we say, “Did you get your free coffee?”
In the past, employees have sometimes been a bit hesitant to do this for us; however, over time, with us proving ourselves that there truly are not strings attached, they have gone from being hesitant to ecstatic when we come in to do this outreach. In fact this time, i went in to tell the employees thank you for letting us do this, and they said that they love when we come in, and that when we pay or everyone’s Starbucks, their tips increase tremendously.
God’s kindness is contagious!