Global Service Day is approaching fast (October 5), and churches across the country are preparing special projects and events to love their communities with the love God has shown them. Perhaps your church is very familiar with community service. Or maybe your church struggles just to keep the doors open and service projects seem like they would be too much to handle. Whether big or small, the truth is that your church can make a difference around you for Christ. Grace Place Church of God in Hermitage, Tennessee, a congregation that performs multiple service projects a year, attests to the practicality of simple outreach efforts that individuals of all ages, and churches of all sizes, can do.
Whether it’s visiting and praying with the elderly in the local nursing home, or taking a tray of snacks to local teachers during standardized testing, Grace Place has found that a variety of practical activities can show the love of Christ, covering a range of age and ability levels. Your church may find some of Grace Place’s recent efforts worth trying:
• Give away water bottles or frozen treats to joggers at a local park or hiking trail.
• Complete landscaping chores for shut-ins.
• Adopt a nearby apartment complex. With permission from the landlord, bring games and snacks for a day of free fun with kids and their parents.
• Volunteer at a local mission for the homeless or at a shelter for families living in poverty.
• Offer to provide painting and cleanup services to a local school.
• Ask your local crisis pregnancy center for opportunities to beautify their facility.
• Hand out free hot chocolate to shoppers on Black Friday, with appropriate permissions.
• Contact your state or regional Church of God offices and inquire about helping a church plant accomplish a special task or project.
• Encourage those with physical restrictions in your church to cover your projects in prayer. Some may even want to bless project participants with a meal following a day of work.
Over the weekend of Global Service Day, Grace Place will be holding another “Grace on the Go” day—which are held on Sundays! Normal Sunday services are swapped out for a thirty-minute worship gathering, which propels church members out into the community for more than twenty different projects. Three hundred churchgoers (most of the congregation) participate in these activities, which result in more than one thousand volunteer hours for Hermitage and the greater Nashville area.
Grace Place associate pastor Owen Snyder didn’t grow up in church. In fact, he didn’t step foot in church until age thirty-five. “We battle so much perception of the public,” Snyder explains. “People who were so outside of what we would call mainline believing Christianity come to fullness and transformation because they’re loved. Part of that love is going out and serving in tangible ways that are nonthreatening. We can’t experience the fullness of Christ unless we do all the things he has asked us to do. Those who don’t serve others are missing a big part of what it means to be a Christian.”
Extreme love doesn’t always require extreme measures, but it may require intentionality. Not every church will cancel the normal Sunday routine to spend hundreds and thousands of hours volunteering in the community. But each of us can do something, and each of us can be the hands and feet of Jesus.