All around the continent people gather together to watch the Super Bowl. In fact research tells us that 1/3rd of America watches the Big Game and it is growing increasingly popular year by year in Canada and Mexico. Super Bowl Sunday has become a pseudo holiday and a great opportunity for your church to connect with the community. My favorite outreach to do on the day before or the day of the Super Bowl is to go to apartment complexes, duplexes, or neighborhoods where the houses are close together, going door to door giving away free soda and popcorn (or whatever is popular in your context). We coach our teams to knock on the doors, and when people answer say, “Hey guys we know its Super Bowl weekend, so we are showing Christ’s love in a practical way by giving out free soda and free popcorn, so how many do you need?” Our teams give as many cans and packs of popcorn as there are people at the Super Bowl party. We have also done this outreach simply giving away 2 liters.

We have seen this outreach touch many people. I still remember doing this outreach as a junior high student and seeing a man our team served and prayed for at church the next weekend. A friend of mine, who is a pastor, told me that a lady they reached on a similar outreach came to their church gathering 4 years later, with the empty can of free soda exclaiming how powerful this gesture of kindness was to her. This same woman ended up Surrendering her life to Christ and became a staff member at the church in which served her in a practical way.

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.

 

The truth is that our culture has kicked Jesus out of his own Birthday Party. Christmas is no longer a time that the world celebrates Jesus’ birth, but has become a time of self indulgence, hording materials, and treating other people poorly. Christmas has become a politically correct holiday in which the word Christ is deemed offensive, and we are forced to say “Happy….whatever won’t offend you”

Many in the Christian circle have realized this and have tried to fight back. We have people that boycott buying presents, people that boycott businesses, people that Capitalize CHRIST in Christmas on every post to fight off the evil Xmas shorthand (even though the X  in Xmas means Christ). We have people that put up huge billboards that say JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!!!, and people that quite honestly have lost sight of the meaning of Christmas by trying to win it back for Christ.

I am convinced that one of the best ways for us as Christ Followers to show our not-yet believing communities that Christ is at the very center of the holiday is to serve in simple, yet practical ways with no strings attached, and to proclaim that Jesus cares for and loves all. 

 

Here are 3 outreaches to try during the holidays to accomplish this:

#1 Christmas Day Donut Giveaway

To really make a splash in our community we have to be willing to serve people on Christmas day. One of the best ways to do this is to deliver donuts to people having to work on the day of Christmas. Simply order a bunch of donuts and take boxes to where there are people that are working. Tell them that you wanted to remind them that God loves them and thank them for working on the holiday. Drop off the donuts with a connection card that says, ” Just for you just because… We hope this small gift brightens your day, there are no strings attached, we just wanted to let you know  that God loves you” and offer to say a quick 10 second prayer for them.

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We have led and coached churches that have done this outreach on Christmas Eve @ 4pm & Christmas day @ 10am for years and it has become a favorite among everyone who participates. Families use this outreach to teach their kids that Christmas is not about us, but its about Christ and serving others. Furthermore, Businesses have told our teams that they wait eagerly to receive the donuts and prayers, and that they can always count on our teams to be there on Christmas Eve and Christmas day!

# 2 Free Gift Wrapping

Another great holiday outreach is to set up free gift wrapping booths in stores where people are buying presents for their loved ones. Find a business that will let you in and wrap. Usually privately owned businesses are the best candidates for this outreach instead of corporations. If you have the budget for it try renting a space in the mall and set up signs that say, “Free Gift Wrapping, No Donations Accepted”

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We coach churches to try to wrap both weekends before Christmas at the store they are serving at.  Some churches focus only on the Saturday before Christmas and some wrap every day from Black Friday to Christmas Eve! Find out what works best for you and just try it. We coach teams to wrap from open to close and have 3 people serving in 3 hour shifts. This outreach really speaks to people (especially husbands!) and is a super practical and fun way to serve others during the holidays!

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# 3 Hot Coco Giveaway

Some of the best outreaches happen when we just love in simple ways to make sure people know that there is a God and He cares for them. A simple hot coco packet delivered door to door, to people having to work in the cold, or at a holiday parade is an easy and cheap way to share Christ’s love.

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Jesus ushered in his kingdom primarily through serving others and revealing who he was not just with his words, but with his acts of service. Again I am convinced that one way that we as believers will get our communities to celebrate Christ on Christmas is through simple acts of kindness done with great love during the holidays.

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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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.

 

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?

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