Last week we reported on a Georgia church selling its nearly paid-off property and using the profits to help the needy in its community. This week another local newspaper highlighted a multi-church effort to also invest more in people than in buildings.
In Loveland, Colo., three churches are shutting down their regular Sunday services this week and coming together to serve their community via more than 25 outreach projects. So far more than 800 people have committed to help at such places as a local elementary school, Habitat for Humanity, Interfaith Hospitality Network and several nursing homes.
"For us, we feel like it is putting our love and faith in Christ into action,” said Chris Perciante, director of community outreach at Faith Evangelical Church, one of the three participating churches. “It is important to show our love of Christ by serving in the community. That phrase ‘to not just go to church but be the church’ was a big motivation to us.”
The bigger story, however, isn't that three churches are going outside their walls to serve the community, but that there is a growing trend of this throughout the nation—one that secular media outlets are noticing more.
"If we are going to survive in the future, we are going to understand how people do church in this generation,” said Bryan Fowler, pastor of the Navo Church in Decatur, Ga., which was recently highlighted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for serving its community by offering not only dance and drumline classes throughout the week, but also a fully equipped recording studio.
Every October, more than 800 churches across the United States participate in "Faith in Action" Sunday, in which congregations take a break from their usual worship services to intentionally go out and serve the community. But the shift that many pastors and church observers currently notice is an increase in churches being more intentional and long-term with their commitment to truly serve their communities.
"It gets our mind off of ourselves,” said Robin Parker, missions pastor for Good Shepherd Church in Loveland. “By helping others, it enriches our own lives. It’s what we are called to do. Jesus Himself came to serve.” [reporterherald.com, 8/3/09; ajc.com, 7/28/09]