It is awesome to have a pastor engaged in ministry outside the walls of the church and in the local community. It is even better to have laypersons engaged in ministry outside the walls of the church and in the local community.
It is awesome to have professional church workers trying to love neighbors with the love of Christ. It’s their job. It is better when the people in the pews are doing it…in ways that get them out of the pews. It, too, is their job.
It is awesome to have church leadership affecting change in their local context, seeing needs and meeting them, finding ways to bring peace, and hope, and healing. It’s far better when the whole Body of Christ is doing this as the reach is far greater.
I have been able to get our folks thinking of what it means that they are missionaries in our little corner of the world…that we have a sending God who sends us to be a blessing to this world of ours. But, always, the question remains of how we put this into practice. What is the program or the model we use…?
Last year we engaged in Blessing Groups, finding ways to bless each other and bless our communities. This was a pretty traditional “missional community” model.
This fall we are trying something different. It’s from Ben Yosua-Davis and is called the “5/5/50 rule”. The notion is that resources are limited in most local churches. We have limited money. We have limited numbers of people. And we have limited time. But, in most churches, we can come up with 5 people who can devote 5 hours for a project that will bless their surrounding community for a cost of no more than $50.
This does a few things. First, it makes it doable financially, taking away the financial barrier to many projects and forces the folks to think pretty small and local. Secondly, it’s applicable to even really small congregations. Third, there is no assumption that people are making a monthly or weekly commitment. And, fourth, the people in the pews take ownership. They have more eyes and ears to more broadly see and hear the concerns of the community. Plus the project can be for persons or groups or places that are already important to them.
And, as of last Sunday, the offer of “micro-grants” of $50 was announces to the congregations. The hope is that persons will think about ways they can be in service to bless our community (or a little corner of the community) and make a difference.
What are some ways to make a difference?
Ben Yosua-Davis suggests a few projects:
- Does your city have quarter-eating metered parking downtown? Get a truly insane number of quarters and drop them all over the downtown. Pay up people’s parking, leave them on people’s windshields, and occasionally leave a note saying, “You are loved.”
- Where do people who are homeless gather in your community? Find that park (or parking lot), buy a few dozen donuts and a gallon of coffee, and hang out with them on a Saturday morning.
- Contact your local family homeless shelter. Make homemade cards with messages of appreciation and encouragement, and send them to the residents along with cookies (even store bought are fine) and flowers.
- Talk to a receptive school guidance counselor and find out what their poorest students need most. (It may be books, backpacks, or food for the weekend). Put together care packages for the students. Pray for the children whose lives you will be blessing.
- Don’t know much about your community? Find the local gathering spot (restaurant, cafe, gas station), and hang out there for a couple hours. Buy coffee for the next person behind you in line, and watch who comes in and out for a couple hours. Afterwards, use what you see as an opportunity for prayer.
But here are some more ideas:
- Go to a local non-profit armed with cleaning supplies and offer to clean their facilities. The money could be used for the supplies needed and any extra supplies could be left behind.
- Check with a nursing home about supplying board or card games. Purchase them. Play them with the elders. And leave the games behind.
- Build a ramp for the home of someone who is in a wheelchair.
- Do a collection of clothes for the Nome Community Center and use the money for shipping.
- Offer to provide refreshments for free at the new “Movie Night” taking place at Seward’s Rae Building. The money could go towards the supplies.
- Get families together to bless your neighborhood with cookies during the Christmas season.
- Adopt a classroom at the school. Use the money to purchase books for a classroom and offer to volunteer one week, reading the books while you’re there.
- Buy paint and offer to paint something…a fence, a room, playground equipment, a porch.
So, what would you do with 5 people / 5 hours / and 50 dollars?