Our event was a, “Back to School Splash” with water slides, water balloon toss, kiddie area, hot dogs, chips, water, popcorn, sno cones; all at absolutely no cost to the participants.
by, Becky j Miller
Perhaps I am the only human who sometimes sees life through the filter of, “if only.” Should that statement be true, this column will go completely unread.
However, were someone to recognize the lens of “if only” permeates, or even just plays hide and seek in their world view, then hopefully my tale will help bring about a change in focus.
My husband and I pastor a church in Beeville. In 2013, the town’s population was estimated at 13,290. While the town lacks certain amenities such as Target, Starbucks and any recognizable chain restaurants besides Chili’s, it is home to over 35 churches!
Numerous churches in a small town can be both good and bad. For the community, many churches equal plenty of opportunities to worship and participate in outreach events. For churches however, it can create an unnecessary spirit of competition. If the mission of the church as a group of Christ-followers is to reach the community, then it matters not which particular body acquires the most participants, right? The point is to serve the community.
Our church is moderately sized, not the largest or the smallest in town, but I can state with complete unabashed bias; ours has the biggest heart. Several months ago the church worship team voiced their opinion that the church should host a community outreach. “Make it happen,” was my husband’s response. And boy did they deliver!!
Tirelessly, and without coercion, the team set out hosting carwashes, bake sales and pursuing sponsors to help fund the event. As pastors, we’d anticipated using discretionary budget funds perhaps offset by special offerings. When all was said and done, the team raised their own full budget, with only incidentals coming out of the church’s general fund.
Before any advertising efforts began, other churches in the community were contacted to ensure we were not offering a competing event. At the time, no other churches had any plans for a community event in August.
We began distributing flyers, posting on Facebook, buying social media ads, and even recording a radio spot. Two weeks before our event we found that two other churches had scheduled identical competing events, one on the exact day as ours. Cue disappointment, dismay and some “Are you serious??”
It’s hard to believe that three churches, in the same small town, came up with the same exact idea and no one copied. Our event was a, “Back to School Splash” with water slides, water balloon toss, kiddie area, hot dogs, chips, water, popcorn, sno cones; all at absolutely no cost to the participants. No matter, the bottom line is this; our desire was to serve our community, and that we did.
Over 125 children in the community turned out to spend their Saturday afternoon enjoying water activities in the 110-degree heat. Broken down here’s the overall measurable community impact; 125 children & their parent(s) were fed lunch; a meal their families neither had to plan nor fund.
One hundred and twenty five children were kept entertained for several hours on a hot Saturday giving their parents a break from either being sequestered in the house, or having to spend money to entertain them. One hundred and twenty five children were served by smiling faces and willing hearts, and one hundred and twenty five parents had to do nothing other than show up.
Not only was the community served, the church body came together in unity to make it happen; we had over 30 volunteers on site not to mention all the sweat equity and man hours invested prior to the event. That kind of effort is motivated only by pure love; love for God and love for our fellow man.
The church members saw beyond the distraction of “if only” and made their desire a reality. There was no talk of, “if only” we had a bigger bank account, “if only” we had a larger congregation, “if only” we knew how to plan a big event, blah, blah, and blah. Instead, for the love of a community, they pushed up their sleeves and went to work!
In a culture of hate and judgment, where the church has a nasty reputation, I’d say we accomplished the ultimate feat! #fortheloveofcommunity
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller