I had the opportunity to share with the readers over at June Foster's blog last week! You can visit her website here. Be sure to share your ideas or ministries you've been involved with in the comments section!
Ways to be Involved in Your Community
Often we feel helpless if we want to be involved in helping our community and changing our corner of the world. It’s clear that we should be involved in “here, near, and far away” ministries, but we don’t always know what to do, or how to do it. We may give to a larger organization for missions—helping the “near to us” Judea or the “far away” Samaria referred to in Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” But how do we engage with sharing the gospel and making a difference here in our “Jerusalem”?
Here is a variety of ideas that could be of benefit in your own hometown. If there is a program going on in your area already, get involved instead of starting something new. Unity in the body of Christ is never bad, and He is glorified as your community is strengthened. Volunteering is a great way to make new friends, as you come together to solve a problem. Focus on what you have in common with others, instead of the ways you are different. It is good for the heart and the Spirit!
1. Ways to make a difference with hotel toiletries
What could be easier? For frequent travelers, these are easily accumulated and don’t cost you any more than what you’ve paid for your room already. Often you bring your own favorite products from home, and the hotel versions are left untouched in your room. Here are some great ideas for donating, that only take a quick phone call to coordinate, and you can do it alone, or as a group, on an ongoing basis.
- Donate to a local Homeless, or Women’s Shelter.
- Check with the Home Economics or Health instructor at the local school, to see if they can utilize them in their curriculum.
- Talk to the counselor at the school to see if they could be sent home in “goody bags” for students that may need assistance.
BONUS: Often, when people are displaced, they also find it difficult to stay in touch with loved ones. Donate cards (and postage stamps) for people to send birthday or holiday cards to their loved ones, or a thank you note to someone who has made a difference in their world.
2. Ways to make a difference with shoes
It seems that there are certain times of year that certain types of shoes are purchased regularly. We can take shoes for granted, and often we have way more shoes than what we need, or could ever wear. Consider doing these things to bless someone who may not have the resources to purchase appropriate seasonal footwear.
- If you purchase a pair of shoes, buy an additional pair exactly the same as yours, then donate them to an appropriate shelter, or job placement program (often people don’t have necessary shoes to wear for job interviews, construction job sites, or office work. This is perfect to do during the “Buy One-Get One” promotional offers.
- When your children outgrow their sports shoes, if they are still in excellent condition, donate them to the coach to share with another child coming in the program who may not be able to afford even a pair of used shoes.
BONUS: Find out the size of a child on the team and buy them a new pair, or ask a shelter volunteer for details for a specific recipient, perhaps someone who has just arrived, or someone who is preparing to leave because they have found a job and are able to make it on their own. Even if you don’t know the name of the person receiving them, take time to pray for the person who will be wearing them, asking God to reveal Himself to them in new ways and for them to see how He is walking with them in this season.
3. Laundry Love
Who doesn’t appreciate clean clothes? There are several programs with this name that are administered differently. Here are 2 ways that I’ve seen it work well.
- As a church ministry, arrange to sponsor a night of laundry on a regular basis at a local laundromat. A church team or small group can bring in donated quarters to feed machines, laundry soap and fabric softener, and even dinner to share with those who are doing laundry at a specified location.
- After discovering that “nothing clean to wear” was a reason children from impoverished homes didn’t come to school, a church raised money to purchase a washer and drier for a local school (with the school’s permission). Church volunteers attended the machines, and school children were invited to bring their personal clothing (not the families) for laundering, dropping them off on their way to class in the morning, and picking them up after classes in the afternoon. Truancy was reduced, and the children built mentor-relationships with those serving them, encouraging them to attend school more regularly.
BONUS: If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll build relationships with the people that return to do there laundry weekly at that time, and you can invite them into spiritual conversations. Bring along paper and Illustrated Faith embellishments and turn the boring time of waiting for the wash to dry into a crafty time to introduce and encourage others in His Word!
4. Sew In Love
What’s happened to the sewing circle? This is a great way to help preserve hand-work in the community, and also bless those that have a need. The type of hand-work done would dictate the items made and how they are dispersed. This would be appropriate for men and women of all ages to work on!
- Crochet or knit winter hats, scarves or mittens, and donate them to a school program or shelter that has a need for them. Be sure to make them age-appropriate in sizes, colors, and textures of yarn.
- Quilting and sewing can be done to create quilts of different sizes and stocked in the trunks of Emergency workers to be used during appropriate situations. If there are policies against them carrying them, ask the local Family Services office how they could be donated for children taken into foster care, or to the families that receive them.
BONUS: Invite your church or community to clean out their unused yarns and cotton fabrics for volunteers to use for these projects. Ask the people constructing them to pray for the person who will be using the finished project, as they are making them. Include a little note, folded inside a blanket, or tucked inside a hat or gloves, letting the wearer know that they have been prayed for.
Were you involved in a community ministry that worked well, or do you have other ideas? Please tell us about your story or idea in the comments below.