Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Christmas Day Story

While a team of engineers built sandwiches in the kitchen, cookie packers prepared packages of cookies, as assembly-line leaders formed their assembly-line team. The receiving department had spent the previous week receiving items to be assembled and stocked was double checked for quality and quanity. The shipping department waited with baited breathe for the first finished products to come off the end of the line to be packed in boxes for delivery. When the starting whistle blew the action began. Sandwiches came out of the kitchen at break-neck speed, the cookie packers piled bags of cookies on trays to be delivered to assembly line workers. The THREE assembly lines were kept stocked with "parts" as assembly-line workers put together the final product--- a sack lunch. Each lunch consisted of a can of soda, a piece of fruit (orange, apple or banana), a sandwich (turkey, ham or bologna ) a bag of chips, a pack of cookies and a napkin. When the lunches were completed they were placed in boxes to be delivered to neighborhood residents. On Christmas Day in the course of 30 minutes about 600 sack lunches were assembled by more than 40 volunteers. A prayer of blessing was offered over the lunches for the workers and the receivers and part-two began.

Dock workers loaded trucks, vans and cars with the lunches. Two hundred doors of apartments at Garden Square were knocked on and a sack lunch was given to each person in the apartment. Mid-way through delivering the lunches, the "delivery people" began to find families in need of Christmas gifts, food and general household supplies all of which were called into the "special need center" set up in the church. Elves in the church began putting together the need items, wrapping presents, gathering food etc. Items were, then, delivered to the apartments that had the need.

Meanwhile delivery teams began to return with left over lunches as many people were not home (just as on the day that Jesus fed the multitude, there was much left over). On Christmas afternoon in the pouring down rain, five brave souls went door to door at Pine Valley Apartments (A Sidewalk Sunday School location) and knocked on an additional 100 doors, distributing nearly 200 sack lunches. By mid afternoon, 300 apartments were called on and nearly 600 sack lunches were delivered.

Thank you to all who made this story possible. You have been a blessing to our family and the neighborhoods served.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Secret Santa and other Christmas fun

This has been the Christmas week. On Monday, we spent the day setting up a Secret Santa Shop where children in the neighborhood could come and go shopping for items for their parents. When I was leaving the church a little boy across the street called out to me. I went over to talk with him, he was wearing a tie. I told him he looked nice and asked him why he was dressed up. He told me he was going to be in a Christmas program and asked me to come and see him. I went. I saw so many of the children in the neighborhood that night. I didn't realize it was only the younger grades that night so I also, went on Tuesday night to see the older kids. On Wednesday night was our secret Santa night. The children visited Santa, entered a coloring contest and shopped for parents. We even helped wrap all the presents. Nearly 125 kids came through. We had about 75 volunteers(50 from the Student Council of Northwestern Elementary School).

On Thursday we went to son Andrew's Christmas program it was our 21st year of attending our children's Christmas programs, this will be our last as Andrew graduates this year. Wow! It is hard to believe.

Tonight(Friday) we are attending a church 's play. Then on Saturday a Birthday Party for Jesus at Pine Valley and on Sunday our regular outreach night. Thanks for the prayers. Jeff

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Missional Church

One of the stated goals of Kokomo Urban Outreach is to help churches see themselves as a mission center in their neighborhood and to help every person think of themselves as a missionary. I have had several people ask me what a missional church could look like. I think a missional church, is more of a mindset. In order for a church to become a missional church it has to think differently, much differently. This shift in thinking is expressed by Ed Stetzer and David Putman in their book, "Breaking the Missional Code" (Broadman & Holman, 2006) :
  • From programs to processes
  • From demographics to discernment
  • From models to missions
  • From attractional to incarnational
  • From uniformity to diversity
  • From professional to passionate
  • From seating to sending
  • From decisions to disciples
  • From additional to exponential
  • From monuments to movements

  • After a change of thinking comes action, the following has been gleaned from many sources, and think it best describes the actions of a missional church.

    Missional Churches

  • are exploring and discovering what it means to be Jesus' sent people everywhere they go,(jobs, shopping, sporting events etc).
  • are individuals willing and ready to be Christ's people in their own situation and place.
  • are engaged with the culture without being absorbed by the culture. They are intentionally indigenous.
  • understand God is already present in the culture. The secular and sacred are blurred. Therefore, a missional church doesn't view its purpose as bringing God into the culture or taking individuals out of the culture to a sacred space.
  • are evangelistic and faithfully proclaims the gospel through word and deed. Words alone are not sufficient; service is as important as what we say.
  • aligns all their activities around the the mission and Kingdom of God.
  • seeks to put the good of their neighbor over their own.
  • practices hospitality by welcoming the stranger into the midst of the community.
  • understands themselves as a community on a mission together.
  • are communities where everyone is involved in learning "the way of Jesus." Spiritual development, through a variety of Spiritual disciplines are expected.
  • gathers for worship, encouragement, teaching, training, and to seek God's presence. The purpose of gathering is to be filled, healed, equiped, and empowered to be Christ's Representatives wherever they find themselves.

  • A Missional church is

  • not a dispenser of religious goods and services or a place where people come for their weekly spiritual fix.
  • not a place where mature Christians come to be fed and have their needs met.
  • not a place where "professionals" are hired to do all the work of the church.
  • not a church with a "good missions program." The people are the missions program.
  • not about a new strategy for evangelism.
  • not about big programs and organizations to accomplish God's missionary purpose. This does not imply no program or organization, but that they will not drive mission. They will be used in support of people on mission.
  • not labeled "liberal" or "conservative" perhaps there are elements of both.