Or, others have called it "Meet the Need" or "Matthew 25 Ministries" or Gone Servin'" or "Service Worship" or Vacation in God's Creation!". Whatever you call it, the idea is the same...
On Sunday morning, you meet at the church for your worship service as normal. After an abbreviated worship/Bible study (or after your normal worship service...you decide), those who are able leave the church to serve the community. Those that are not able to go, can continue to worship, or there can be an alternative mission for them at the church. As I have a passion for missions, I LOVE this idea of putting your faith into action. It is something our church is considering for the summer months and so I asked other churches who have done it to give us some ideas. They obliged! So, here are some suggestions for the "Church has left the building" ministry!...If you try it, share with us what worked!
- Way to promote - give everyone a t-shirt, button or sticker to wear that has your slogan. That way everyone in the group is recognized. If you're going to a park or retirement center, etc this would be a great way to keep up with your group as well. One church made t-shirts that said "Gone Servin'...the church has left the building" :)
- So what are some things you can do when you go "out into the world"?...
- "Bag hunger" - give every group a plastic bag with a shopping list inside. Go shopping for the things on your list then deliver them to wherever you are donating the food. For those that need financial help, perhaps ask those that are staying behind if they would like to contribute $2-5 for those that are buying. Include the $ in the bag for those that need assistance.
- Helping your own - are there elderly in your congregation that need some small repair at their house? perhaps painting a deck, mowing their lawn, weeding, moving furniture out to throw away or donate, rake leaves, etc. Divide up your congregation into work teams and go help.
- One thing we do at our church (Highland Presbyterian) is 10,000 meals - Stop Hunger Now. It's a great intergenerational activity that, although it costs quite a bit to do, you can raise the money and they take care of all the organization. This will be one of our projects this summer.
- Retirement home - go and sing, do crafts, play games and worship with a nearby retirement home.
- First responders - make goodie bags with homemade treats, bible verses, etc (go on pinterest and get ideas!) and deliver them to hospitals, fire stations, policemen, urgent care facilities, etc. If you have multiple groups going, make cards ahead of time of places to go and give each group a card so that every place is covered and you don't have 5 groups go to the same place.
- Go to the mall and hand out waters and a small treat to the employees. Meet at the food court for lunch!
- neighboring schools! During the summer when there are no students many times there are renovation projects going on. Ask you county if any of the schools closest to you need help with simple projects like planting, mulching, painting, etc. If there is enough space outside you could have a bag lunch picnic afterwards.
- parks - talk to you county as well about cleaning your local park(s) - picking up trash, mulching/planting, etc. This would also be a great place to have a picnic bag lunch afterwards!
- Mission trip provisions - if your church is going on an upcoming mission trip or if you sponsor mission workers that need supplies, put lists in the bulletin with supplies that are needed - these could be bought or found at homes or neighbor's homes (maybe like a scavenger hunt?). If money is needed you could find a way to give to those that need it to buy their supplies. If you had a fundraiser beforehand you could even give out money to everyone to buy the supplies. Go out and buy/collect supplies and then come back and pack them up.
- Check out this church that is currently doing this 4 times a year on the 5th Sunday. Quote from their page, "Successful churches that provide Service Worship offer a wide variety of mission opportunities for all abilities. For example, some groups may write letters to people who are in care facilities or bake cookies on the church property for a shelter. Other groups may go to the home of a veteran who is deployed or disabled and do yard work or paint the walls at a church in need. The morning will start with a short service to bless the workers and send them on their way." http://www.faiththatworkstucson.org/service-worship
- Another organization that is doing this is called "workship". Although I like what they are doing, I feel compelled to state that the danger of what they are doing is losing the spirituality of church. Church isn't just action and providing for physical needs - there are many non-profits that do this. The church also needs to fulfill the spiritual needs of its members. That includes teaching the Bible - not just a 7 minute snippit of a social justice sermon. However, you can definitely get some ideas from this group as to how to run your "the church has left the building". http://www.workship.org/services-1
- Now here are some things to do back at the church...
- There will be people who are not able to go out with your groups or simply don't want to. Make sure you have things for them to do back at the church so they feel included.
- One church had those that stayed back prepare sandwiches/lunch for the volunteers who were out doing missions. When they return to the church they all eat together.
- Do your own Meals on Wheels type program. Get a list of your shut-ins and/or those in your church that are sick. Have the people at the church prepare meals (could be freezer meals that could be cooked or prepared hot meals) that could then be taken to the members.
- Card ministry - this is a neat idea. Those at the church can write and address cards to those that are mourning, celebrating (birthday, anniversary, etc), that haven't been at church in a while, that are new - a welcome to the church card, etc. Whatever they are going through, send a card :)
- Church beautification - this could be inside or outside - whatever needs to be done.
- Make sandwiches for local homeless shelter.
- make door decorations or table centerpieces for any upcoming events
- make a treat for first responders
- we have an afterschool program. They could put together little welcome bags to our next group of kids that sign up.
- Figure out how you want yours to run - maybe every other week? Every week for a month? Will everyone come back to gather at the church to discuss what they did and what it meant to them? Some of the activities above would be perfect for a picnic afterwards - everyone could take their own bag lunch - or the people back at the church could prepare them and someone could take them to the volunteers if they are at a park, school, etc.
- Maybe you could do the missions every other week and the weeks in between you could regroup and have someone speak about what they did - this would help both groups know what they others did. Plus you could show pictures.
- I think the idea behind this is wonderful. Take our faith and belief in Jesus Christ and the Church and put it into action with our neighbors and community!
If you have any other ideas please share! I would love to hear them :) God bless!