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Kindness Outreach DNA

One of the beautiful things about reaching out and serving in practical ways is how cheaply your outreaches can be. This is good news for most church planters, churches just getting outreach started, or even families looking to serve in creative ways in their community. Kindness Outreach can be done on a budget, and still be very effective. Here are some of our favorite cheap or even free Kindness Outreaches:

1. Trash Takeout  

This idea is simple. Go to where people have to take their trash out to a centralized dumpster and offer to do it for them. This is best accomplished at apartment complexes where there are hundreds of units, many stairs, and several centralized dumpsters. Go door to door explaining that your team is showing God’s love in a practical way by taking everyone’s trash out for free today. The best part about this outreach is that this costs your team/church absolutely nothing. We got to the point that after we took someone’s trash out we would give them a replacement trash bag, but even those are super cheap.

If you live in an area that doesn’t do trash take out like this, consider going to parks or parking lots with your team and start picking up trash. Get some cheap vests or shirts that say “Kindness in Progress” for your team to wear. This is sure to get people asking who you are and why you are doing this.

2. Free Car Wash

Washing cars for free is another great outreach you can do on a budget. The initial buying of hoses, towels, soap, signs, etc. might seem a little pricey, but once you have bought these supplies, they will last a long time. For this outreach, have it arranged with a local business (maybe somewhere you have seen carwashes done before) and explain that your church wants to do a car wash for free, without taking donations, as a way to show kindness to the community. We have found most businesses, especially the ones that know you from outreach, are excited about this new twist of a church washing cars without asking for something in return.

If you live in a warm weather climate, I would suggest doing this outreach as much as you can which will make the initial start up cost of buying the materials even cheaper.

3. Window Washing

Business window washing is a staple outreach in our church plant. You can serve 100’s of businesses for very little cost. For this outreach we keep it simple by using cheap window glass cleaner and paper towels. That’s it! You can alway get carried away by buying large squeegees, ladders, cloths, etc. but we truly believe in this case, less is more.

We simply go into businesses and tell them that we are cleaning all of the windows in the business park for free to show God’s love in a practical way. We make sure we tell them this is not for donations and simply ask if we can take the smudges off. Some businesses will so no, but most will say yes.

I’ll never forget the manager of a business who had his windows washed by us pulling me aside and saying, “There are a lot of churches that talk, but you guys SHOW!” What a powerful compliment that was.

4. Water/Coffee Giveaway

Water or Coffee Giveaway stations have become one of our favorite outreaches to do with our church. We have a great trail system that hundreds of people hike every day. This allows us to do water giveaways during the spring and summer, and coffee giveaways during the winter and fall. Water is of course cheaper than coffee; however, if you are needing to save money, you can always brew your own pot. Bus/train stops and parks are great places to try a water or coffee station as well.

5. Serve With Your City

One free way to make a big splash in your community is to help the city out with already planned events. Whether it is volunteering to pick up trash,  volunteering to set up, or simply manning booths, cities are always looking for volunteers to help out at city wide events.

Churches that do this overtime have seen God grant their church favor even in hostile cities from offering to serve with the city with no strings attached. Check out your community calendar and try to grab a coffee with the city’s volunteer coordinator. City wide events like festivals and trash pick up days are easy and free ways to serve with your city. Consider volunteering to do the job that no one else want to do.

 

Our church loves the employees of our local Target. This is something we have tried to display in practical ways for over 5 years now. We have given them free candy packs, washed the store’s windows, and our favorite outreach, is to drop off donuts on every Christmas Eve to the employees that are working that night. Each outreach we communicate that we are trying to display the love of Christ in a practical and tangible way. Doing these outreaches from time to time has allowed us to build a relationship with our local Target.

Unfortunately Target’s employees have been getting the brunt of customer frustrations about the company’s policy on bathrooms. When we heard about this we knew that we wanted to show some love to our local Target. Our church got together to make cards that included a $5 Starbucks gift card, our normal outreach card, and an encouraging note that said:

“We know people may have been increasingly rude to you recently. We just wanted to let you know that our church is praying for you, God loves you, and we do too!”

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After making these cards, we went up to every individual employee that was working that night, handed them the card, told them we were thankful for them, and even prayed with many of the employees right there in the middle of the store. The reaction was profound. Some of the employees started crying, all were beyond grateful, and many you could visibly see a release of tension come off of their shoulders.

The employees explained to us that in the recent weeks they have been yelled and screamed at, people have been increasingly rude, and their hours have been getting cut due to the boycotts. Some of them even told us that they were hesitant to take our card because they expected the card to be, coming from a church, full of hate and judgment.

When we were about to leave, the manager of the store came up to our team, explained how grateful she was that we would do this for her employees, and how hard things have been lately. She called for every employee that could to come down to the front and take a group picture with us.

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Later that night she posted the picture on Facebook and wrote above the picture:

“Had an amazing group of individuals come to my store tonight to express how much they appreciate and love us despite our corporation’s current news stories. Greenwood Baptist Church we are so grateful for your gesture. We have had a tough few weeks, but you have reminded us of how great our Lord truly is. We need more people like you in this world!”

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This Facebook post, along with some others, was shared over 100 times. People all over the nation and even around the world viewed this post and our message was received. Believers were encouraged, unbelievers were shocked, and Jesus’ love was on display.

I think my favorite part of this entire thing is that the manager continued this outreach the next day with the left over cards we had given her!

This outreach is incredibly reproducible and I would encourage you/your church to love your local Target in a similar way. We have to understand that as believers if we want our voices to be heard in a post-Christian society, we need to serve in outwardly, public, and tangible ways. People want to see our hearts before they begin to value our words. I’ve often wondered what would happen if every Target in our nation had a local church loving it consistently, humbly, and practically. Maybe posts like this wouldn’t even be necessary.

 

I believe a church’s health status can usually be measured by the way they are grooming and mentoring the young people within their church. There is something to be said about a thriving youth or college ministry within a church. God has always used young people in order to grow His kingdom. So how can we as a church start to cultivate our young people into roles of leadership in our outreach efforts? Here are some practical ways that we have found to be extremely effective.

1. Create a specific time for young people’s outreach.

Young people respond to activities that are specifically for them. Try planning an outreach that is geared and marketed only for young people on a frequent basis. This is easiest when done through youth and college ministries. At the church I serve at, we offer young adult outreaches at least once a month. The response of our young people in our church to these specific youth or college outreaches has been astounding. I find that our normal church wide outreaches we do every week are starting to be manned and even led by our young people due to us creating specific outreaches for them.

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2. Feed Feed Feed!
There is an obvious truth that becomes apparent when trying to attract young people: Where the food is, they will be. Try to always go get drinks at Sonic or tacos at Taco Bell after a young people’s outreach. This is a time where sharing what God has done through their service comes out organically and the excitement and hype of the outreach grows larger and larger. Furthermore, leaders are formed during this time of eating and sharing naturally in the same way they are at school at the lunch table. I have found this part of our outreach time to be so important that I have actually budgeted to be able to feed our youth or college students after an outreach… at a place like Taco Bell of course.

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3. Have your older adult leaders serve during the young people’s outreach. 

This might sound like a contradiction. Let me explain. With every youth or college ministry there are older adults that help out within that ministry. Too many times during youth outreaches, youth adult leaders sit back and watch the youth serve with an “I am too old for this” mentality. Try jumping in and washing the first toilet or washing the first car that comes into a free car wash. We always try to have our youth/college minister and adult leaders showing the students that they are willing to get their hands dirty and do the very thing we are asking the young people to do. Students respond to adult leadership and after 2 or 3 toilets/cars that our adults washed our young people are ready and excited to serve. Jesus showed us this as well. Jesus was willing to get on his hands and knees and wash feet which led the disciples to serve in the same way Jesus was showing them. Jesus did not teach the disciples what to do simply by words and then stand off and watch, but he led them into their leadership roles by willing to get his hands dirty as their leader.    

4. Brainstorm with a selected group of young people.
When young people feel that they have played a part in planning something,they will naturally want to participate and lead what they have planned. Try brainstorming creative outreach ideas with 5 or 6 handpicked youth/college students. Not only will this group of students come up with some fantastic outreach ideas, they will show up to the outreaches they have created and be more inclined to lead those very outreaches.
5. Put your young people in leadership roles during church wide outreaches!
Nothing nudges young people to be the leaders God has called them to be more than when they are leading those who are older than them. Try putting your young people in charge of different outreach groups when you have a team
that is splitting up to do various kindness outreaches across your city. You will have to make sure that the ones you select to do this are ready, but if they are it will increase their confidence and leadership abilities more so than anything else. Young people want to know they are trusted by their authority to do important tasks. As far as outreach goes for the young leader, there is nothing better than having the outreach leader say, “I know you can lead, why don’t you lead this team in this area today” Is this not a picture of the same way that God entrusts us to carry out His work here on earth?

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In conclusion I’ll leave you with a quote that pretty much says sums it up perfectly

“Dedicate Yourself to coaching youth. Pretty much everything great in history has been pulled off by them”                       – Steve Sjogren

God has put a burning passion in our hearts to not keep Kindness Outreach to ourselves. He has allowed us to take what we are doing and encourage/train other churches all around the nation, and world, to start loving their community in practical ways, done with no strings attached. God has blessed us in training churches that are in our own city, to churches that are in New york, Miami, L.A, rural Texas, etc. Only by God’s Grace and provision have we been able to do this, because here’s a secret, we don’t have all the answers either!

One question seems to always arise; however, when we are talking to pastors from different parts of the nation that might have a different culture, race, climate, or socioeconomic make up of their city than we do. the question is this:

Will Kindness Outreach work in my community or city?

To answer this question we have to back up and examine the core DNA of Kindness Outreach. At it’s core Kindness Outreach seeks to display the love and kindness of God, in practical, tangible ways, done with absolutely no strings attached. As we reach out to our communities in this way, we become a vessel in which GOD’S KINDNESS flows through and onto those we are serving. God’s Love and Kindness is what leads people to repentance (Rom 2:4), and draws those who are far away, closer to Jesus (John 6:44).

Just like the Gospel, God’s kindness transcends culture, race, climate, and socioeconomics. Therefore, Kindness Outreach will impact people no matter where you live, who you are, or what culture you are reaching out to.

The important part to remember is that we are displaying God’s Kindness to a community. The specific outreaches we choose to display His love and kindness is secondary to that core DNA. With that said, there are certain outreaches that work better in certain cultures or climates.

For instance we have friends in Miami that could do a $1 Car Wash (wash a car and give away the dollar) anytime of the year, where our friends in New York would have to be crazy to do a $1 Car wash in the dead of the winter. We have friends in Kenya who give out banana’s at red lights, pastors in South Dakota that give out pumpkins, and churches in Texas that hand out Dr. Peppers. We have churches that show God’s kindness by giving out rice and beans to the poorest of the poor in Haiti, and churches in Southlake that go door to door giving out “free movie nights” to the upper class in mansions. We have had churches wash windows and toilets in Mineral Wells, San Francisco, Dallas, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and New york.

So again, the answer to the question of Kindness Outreach being effective in your community is, YES!!! Because God’s kindness transcends!

In the coming weeks, we will be having different pastors from all around the nation write guests post on how they are seeing Kindness Outreach impact their specific communities. Exciting things to come!

If you are interested in getting Kindness Outreach started in your city please don’t hesitate to contact me. We do everything from phone trainings to what we call Kindness Explosions. God has placed you in your specific community for a reason, and if we can anyway come alongside that and help encourage you/your church to start reaching out and serving, we would be glad to.

When a church sets out to love the community with tangible acts of practical kindness, the options of how to do that are endless. Too many times however, there is just one leader brainstorming all of the ideas on how to reach out to others in practical ways. This narrows down the outreach ideas to what this one leader is passionate about. If they are passionate about a certain place or people, the church will spend most of their time and resources reaching out to that certain focus group. Furthermore, the church may then put a label on their name like “cowboy church”, “addiction recovery church”, “skater church”, “specific race church”, etc. God’s kingdom and command to reach others is so much bigger than just one focus group or place. God’s invitation is to all and as a church we must be committed to reach out to a healthy variety of people and places. This is impossible if you are drawing all of your outreach ideas from one leader’s passion.

One of my first goals when I was called to be an outreach pastor was to sit down with multiple people that had various passions and brainstorm how we can reach the people and the places they were passionate about. I quickly found out that many of them had amazing ideas on how to reach out in practical ways. With those who were passionate about gamers, we brainstormed red bull giveaways at mid night releases. With those who were passionate about High School Football, We came up with glow stick giveaways. With those who loved animals, we came with serving at our local animal shelter by giving dogs baths, walks, and helping them get adopted. With those who had lived in apartments, we came up with free trash takeouts. The list goes on and on.

One of my favorite examples of this is how our church has loved on and reached out to our local nursing homes. When my Grandma was in a nursing home due to Alzheimers, my parents noticed that many of the other patient’s families never came and visited. Specifically they noticed that their birthday’s would come and go, and there wasn’t anyone there celebrating with them other than the staff from time to time. So my parents came to me with an idea to throw a big birthday party for everyone in the memory care unit of the nursing home. So we did. We had cake, music, free Polaroid picture taking, brought magazines to read, it was an absolute blast!

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Just this past weekend we took free blankets to different nursing homes in our community to show God’s love in a practical way. This idea again did not come from me, but from a woman who is passionate about reaching out to nursing homes who simply noticed this need.

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It has been very humbling to tap into other’s ideas and see how God uses different people with different passions to reach a community. I love hearing the stories of various people that have come to be apart of our church family from all of our diverse outreaches. Ultimately the bible tells us that God draws people to Jesus, but we have found that God has given us, as a Church, various passions so that He may use them to reach out to and draw the World to Jesus. As leaders, we must tap into this truth, and not try to come up with all of the ideas on how to reach people by ourselves. God has placed certain people in our churches for a reason, lets listen to them.

One of the battles we face as Christians is the feeling that we are not adequate to reach out to our not-yet believing friends and community. We are so scared to make fools of ourselves. Scared we will say the wrong thing. Scared that we will come off awkward and out of touch. God has allowed me and my wife Ashley to reach out and serve thousands of people in practical ways through our Kindness Outreaches. When someone is scared to come with us they usually say something like, “I’m not like you guys, I’m awkward…God can’t use me!” Well i want to tell you today that is a lie from the enemy! Ashley and I have had countless awkward moments on outreaches where we feel like we made fools of ourselves. To illustrate this, here is our Top 3 most awkward moments on an outreach:

#3 “Is This Mom?”

On this particular Kindness Outreach our college ministry was helping incoming freshman move all of their stuff into their on campus dorms. We had tons of great connections and God really moved that day. However, there was one instance where Ashley and i were moving in a freshman guy who had a lady in sunglasses that was accompanying him. Ashley tried to make small talk to make a connection with the guy we were moving in. Referring to the lady Ashley asked, “Is this Mom?” The lady quickly takes off her sunglasses and responds, “Um no, i’m only 19″ Ashley feeling super awkward now tries to save her self, but asks the only question that could possibly turn out more awkward than the “Is This Mom?” question……she asked “Oh is this your girlfriend”……complete awkward silence followed. The freshman guy just responds “Um… no” as in, we have not discussed that yet. Needless to say we moved them in and fled from the scene where a forced “Define The Relationship” meeting was happening!

#2 Accidentally Spit in Lady’s Mouth When Asking To Pray For Her

We all know that “P” words are especially prone for a flyer to pop out of our mouth when speaking. I learned this the hard way. I was making a really great connection with a lady and after serving her in a practical way I asked what I usually ask, “Can I say a quick 10 second PRAYER for you” The second i uttered the word prayer, a nice ball shaped flyer came right out of my mouth and like a buzzer beating shot in the NBA Finals it went SWOOOOSH!!!, right in the basket that was her mouth. I instantly blacked out in a coma of Awkwardness, and still to this day I am not sure what I prayed. Whatever it was, the lady played it off like nothing happened…. but we both knew what had taken place that day.

#1 Passing Out Coffee With A Bloody Finger

This one takes the prize! On a cold day during a parade, our Kindness Outreach team was passing out free Starbucks coffee to 100′s of people at the parade. The outreach was going great! I approached a lady and told her we were serving people in a practical way by giving out free Starbucks coffee. She was very excited and told me what all she wanted in her coffee. I whipped up her coffee and handed it to her and moved on like nothing had happened. Although i was oblivious, Ashley saw that as I handed this lady her coffee, she instantly started gagging and threw the coffee in the trash. Ashley quickly came up to me and said very sweetly, “Austin….look at your finger” I looked down in horror at my finger as the previous menacing hangnail had turned in to a free flowing bloody river.….I had been passing out free coffee to show the love of Christ WITH A BLOODY FINGER!!!

The truth is, there are going to be awkward moments when we reach out. In fact, if you are not having awkward moments that means that you are not reaching out enough! The majority of times when we step out and serve others with kindness God does amazing things. Ashley and I have incredible stories of things God allowed us to see just because we stepped out and loved in practical ways regardless of how awkward we felt at times. If you think you are awkward, too weak, or not qualified enough to reach people, just know this: God has taken awkward, weak, and unqualified people to free slaves, slay giants, and lead nations. The one who came in perfection, Jesus, said he came to serve others not to be served by them. So remember this: When you serve people they are seeing a picture of Jesus…and that my friends is anything, but Awkward!

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!