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Free Starbucks

With the change in seasons, comes a change in how we approach to display the love of Christ to our community in practical ways. The season of fall always brings excitement and there are plenty of specifically seasonal outreaches you can do during Autumn. Here are 3 outreaches that you should consider doing during the fall season:

1. Free Coffee at Starbucks

The crispness of Autumn weather draws coffee lovers to Starbucks like nothing else. One the best outreaches to do is to send a team to Starbucks or a local coffee/donut shop, buy a gift card with usually around $200 on it, and give it to the employee at the cash register so when people order, they can tell them that their coffee has been payed for. Have your team either sit at a visible table inside or the tables right outside the door. Have them ask the employees to simply point to the team’s table and say, “The people at the table over there paid for your coffee today.” Excited customers instinctively come over to thank the team and ask why they are paying for everyone’s coffee. This is a great time to give them your outreach card and tell them that you are displaying the free love of Jesus in a practical way today by buying coffee for everyone. 

Over time, the employees of Starbucks will really get excited when you do this outreach. In fact some employees even ask our teams if they can tell customers why they are buying everyone’s coffee, give out the outreach cards, and tell them what church the team is with! We love to let them do this so they can experience the life changing power of advancing God’s kingdom through tangible, practical kindness.

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2. Leaf Raking

I love the fall, but the thing i hate the most about the season, is having to rake my lawn. Leaf raking can be very burdensome when you are doing it all alone. When outreach teams do it as a group and do it for other people it becomes a blast. Kids, teenagers, and adults can all work together at this outreach. Simply grab some rakes, gloves, and trashbags and go to a neighborhood with a lot of leaves. Tell the homeowners you are raking the leaves of the entire neighborhood, just to show God’s love in a practical way! Make sure you mention it is free and you are not taking donations. Spend time talking to the homeowner and after you are done ask to pray a quick 10 second prayer for them!

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3. Nursing home Pumpkin Giveaway

For this outreach send your team to nursing homes with small pumpkins to decorate and write kind/encouraging words on the pumpkins with the residents. From time to time teams will even bring a friendly dog or two. Many times the churches doing this outreach will get a letter back from the family members thanking the church for the pumpkin with a simple decoration and an encouraging sentence on it. They mention that it not only touched the family member living in the nursing home, but the entire family.

There is something moving and touching about serving those who could never attend your church gathering. When we serve with no expectations or no strings attached, we are projecting the light and life of Christ on those we are serving in a pure way. To serve in a way Jesus did always moves, and deeply touches those we are serving, families of those we are serving, and those of us that are serving God by serving others. Anytime teams do something at local nursing homes, they always come back humbled and encouraged.

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With the recent controversies regarding Christ followers and Starbucks (which has been going on for a while before the silly red cup thing) more and more believers are calling for their brothers and sisters in Christ to completely boycott the corporation. In fact, because we as a church do an outreach where we buy everyone’s coffee that comes in for a period of time to show God’s love in a practical way, we have even been questioned if that is a morally acceptable outreach.

With this in mind, I would like to share about the relationship our church has with our local Starbucks, share how that relationship was built, and let you make your own conclusions on how a church should interact with local businesses that might not have the same beliefs as we do as believers.

This might come as a surprise to some people, but over the past 5 years our church has developed a great relationship with our local starbucks. It did not start that way however. I’ll never forget the first time we went into our Starbucks with a window washing team that was washing the windows of businesses for free to share the love of Christ in a tangible way. We were not only told that we could not wash the windows at Starbucks, we were basically asked to leave and for lack of better words, not to come back. About 6 months later we were in the same area, washing windows again, and as the team leader when we came up to Starbucks, because we had kids with us on our team, I said, “Let’s skip this business, they weren’t very happy with us trying to do this outreach last time” I was trying to protect the kids from any sort of rude comments I knew we would get from the staff if we went in. After i told the team to skip over Starbucks one of the kids looked at me and said, “Why are we skipping over Starbucks, just because we had a bad experience last time, you never know what God is going to do.”

I hesitantly agreed to send our team in, and I decided to stay outside so I didn’t have to hear the Big Fat NO our team was about to receive. As our team came out the front doors, I asked, “Did they at least say no nicely this time?” To my surprise, the team was smiling and said, “They said we could wash their windows!” So we got started.

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After we were done, some of our team members went back in, prayed with the employees of Starbucks and left our outreach cards with them. As we were leaving the parking lot, one of the employees came out with a bunch of free frappuccinos and said, “I know you guys don’t take donations, but will you take some free coffees as a thank you from our staff?” We accepted them and got a sense that God was at work.

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From that moment on we have consistently served our local Starbucks by washing their windows, washing their restrooms, bringing in goodies for their employees, etc. In fact sometimes when we are buying coffee from them to do a coffee giveaway outreach at a park, college campus, or parade, they will actually donate it to us. Can you believe it? A Starbucks donating coffee to a church!

Furthermore, one of our favorite outreaches to do is to buy a gift card at the register and tell the employees that everyone’s coffee that walks in for the next hour is on us! We simply sit at a table and when people go to order their coffee, the employee tells them that the people over at that table bought your coffee today. The employees love it when we do this. Sometimes they will even tell the customers that we are with a church, and there has even been a couple of occasions, that the employees have asked to give out our outreach cards during the “Kindness hour”

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Usually what happens, is that the person receiving our act of kindness will come over and ask why we bought their coffee. This gives us a perfect opportunity to share about the love of Christ. On many occasions we make deep connections and pray with people for God to move in their lives. I remember just a couple weeks ago our team stood up, held hands with a family that was asking for prayer, and we prayed with boldness over their broken situation. All of this done right there inside Starbucks.

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Jesus made it very clear that as agents of His kingdom we are not identified by what we stay away from, rather we are identified by what we are called into. We are called into a broken world, to share His light and His love. To free captives of sin and to serve those that don’t look or act like us. At the end of the day, we don’t go to Starbucks to support Starbucks, but we go because that is where the people are. In our context it is the most culturally relevant coffee shop and until that changes we will be there loving on people, and paying for their coffee. If you told me that every Christian in North America was boycotting Starbucks, it would give us even more of a reason to go and do outreaches there!

So rather than asking the question, what would Starbucks look like if Christians boycotted buying coffee? I think the questions should be:

What would Starbucks look like if every local Starbucks Coffee Shop had a relationship with a local church that we have with ours?

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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

With the changing of the seasons you have to be willing to adapt your kindness outreaches. It would be silly of course to continue to do your summer outreaches in the winter. Can you imagine a free car wash in 30 degree weather? The warmth of Spring and Summer allows many creative outreaches to be done; however the chill of fall and winter bring opportunities to reach out to people in different ways as well. Here are 5 great cold weather outreaches:

#1 Free Leaf Raking

Leaf raking can be very burdensome when you are doing it all alone. When we do it as a group and do it for other people it becomes a blast. Kids, teenagers, and adults can all work together at this outreach. Simply grab some rakes, gloves, and trashbags and go to a neighborhood with a lot of leaves. Tell the homeowners you are raking the leaves of the entire neighborhood just to show God’s love in a practical way! Make sure you mention it is free and you are not taking donations. Spend time talking to the homeowner and after you are done ask to pray a quick 10 second prayer for them!

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# 2 Winter Survival Kit Giveaway

I remember never being prepared for winter. When my lips became chapped, i developed a cough, and my nose was running like a raging river, i was left to fend for myself or use whatever i had laying around the house (wiping your nose over and over again with paper towels hurt!) This outreach gives people tools to be prepared for the cold! It also shows that you, as a Christian, truly care for the people you are serving in a simple and practical way. 

These Winter Survival kits consist of 1 snack sized bag, several cough drops, facial tissue, chap stick, and a connection card (See Below). They cost around $1 to put together and are a great way to love your community in truly a practical way. Try passing them out at college apartments/dorms, downtown areas, businesses, and low income housing. We have had many people tell us they use the kits when they become sick! We met The family in the pic below on one of these outreaches and they started attending our church almost every week before they recently moved.

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#3 Free Laundry Day

On this kindness outreach you get to be out of the cold weather and inside a warm laundry mat! Have a team of about 5-8 people go to a local laundry mat with rolls of quarters and tell people as they walk in that you are showing them that Jesus loves them today by paying for everyone’s laundry that comes in! We usually bring coloring books for kids and donuts for everyone to make their laundry experience as enjoyable as we can! This outreach is great for making deep connections with people since you can sit and talk with them while their laundry is being washed. Many of times our teams are able to share the Gospel in depthly and organically with those they are serving.

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#4 Free Coffee at Starbucks

The cold weather draws coffee lovers to Starbucks like nothing else. One of our favorite outreaches to do is to send a team to Starbucks or a local coffee shop, buy a gift card with usually around $200 on it, and give it to the employee at the cash register so when people order, they can tell them that their coffee has been payed for. We usually either sit at a visible table inside or the tables right outside the door. We ask the employees to simply point to our table and say, “The people at the table over there paid for your coffee today.” Excited customers instinctively come over to thank us and ask why we are paying for everyone’s coffee. This is a great time to give them your outreach card and tell them that you are displaying the free love of Jesus in a practical way today by buying coffee for everyone. 

We have noticed over time, the employees of Starbucks really get excited when we do this outreach. In fact some employees even ask us if they can tell customers why we are buying everyone’s coffee, give out our outreach cards, and tell them what church we are with! We love to let them do this so they can experience the life changing power of advancing God’s kingdom through tangible, practical kindness.

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# 5 Free Red Box Codes

For this outreach you will need popcorn packets, glue dots, connection cards, and free red box promo codes. You can purchase red box promo codes, which gives this you are serving one free night when they rent a movie from a red box, at redbox.com. We simply glue dot a connection card and a promo code on the front of a popcorn packet and give them out to businesses, college apartments/dorms, apartment complexes, community events, even at red box machines.

We usually use the cold temperature to our advantage by telling people “Hey we know its cold, so we wanted to provide you with a free movie night on us, to show you God’s love in a practical way.”

One man who recently came to know the Lord at our church told me that when he was in his “I hate God” stage of his life, receiving a free red box from someone that was serving him with no strings attached would have touched him deeply on a spiritual level and drawn him to closer to Christ. I think this highlights a truth that it does matter what specifically we give out, or how we practically serve people. What matters is to allow others to experience God’s tangible kindness through Christ followers that are sold out to advancing the kingdom by serving the community.

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There are a ton of outreaches you can do when it gets cold: pass out hot chocolate, serve a local nursing home, shovel snow off people’s drive and walk ways, take people’s trash out at apartments, etc. God always moves in people when they step out and serve others in His name. We have found when the weather is dicey and people do not expect us to be out serving, God uses the unexpected service to draw people to Jesus!

With the change in seasons, comes a change in how we approach to display the love of Christ to our community in practical ways. The season of fall always brings excitement and there are plenty of specifically seasonal outreaches you can do during Autumn. Here are 3 outreaches that you should consider doing during the fall season:

1. Free Coffee at Starbucks

The crispness of Autumn weather draws coffee lovers to Starbucks like nothing else. One of our favorite outreaches to do is to send a team to Starbucks or a local coffee shop, buy a gift card with usually around $200 on it, and give it to the employee at the cash register so when people order, they can tell them that their coffee has been payed for. We usually either sit at a visible table inside or the tables right outside the door. We ask the employees to simply point to our table and say, “The people at the table over there paid for your coffee today.” Excited customers instinctively come over to thank us and ask why we are paying for everyone’s coffee. This is a great time to give them your outreach card and tell them that you are displaying the free love of Jesus in a practical way today by buying coffee for everyone. 

We have noticed over time, the employees of Starbucks really get excited when we do this outreach. In fact some employees even ask us if they can tell customers why we are buying everyone’s coffee, give out our outreach cards, and tell them what church we are with! We love to let them do this so they can experience the life changing power of advancing God’s kingdom through tangible, practical kindness.

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2. Leaf Raking

I love the fall, but the thing i hate the most about the season, is having to rake my lawn. Leaf raking can be very burdensome when you are doing it all alone. When we do it as a group and do it for other people it becomes a blast. Kids, teenagers, and adults can all work together at this outreach. Simply grab some rakes, gloves, and trashbags and go to a neighborhood with a lot of leaves. Tell the homeowners you are raking the leaves of the entire neighborhood, just to show God’s love in a practical way! Make sure you mention it is free and you are not taking donations. Spend time talking to the homeowner and after you are done ask to pray a quick 10 second prayer for them!

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3. Free Pumpkin Giveaway

Whether they like to put them up as decoration, or season and roast their seeds to eat, everyone loves a pumpkin during the fall season. This is why free pumpkin giveaways can be very effective in reaching and serving others. Simply find an apartment complex, or neighborhood that the homes or close together, and go door to door telling people that you are giving away pumpkins for free to show God’s love in a practical way. With outreaches like this we usually like to pick a low income area of our community that has families with a bunch of kids.

Pumpkins can be expensive; however, if you can work it out with a distributer, usually you can get them in bulk for pretty cheap. You can also buy 40 or 50 medium sized pumpkins for around $200 from any Wal-Mart.

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