When my family and I started a new church in Lexington, Kentucky, one of the first things we did was perform a community act of kindness. Seven teams, a total of 21 families, met on a Saturday afternoon at a large subdivision close to where we plan to locate the new church. We went door-to-door handing out free light bulbs to every household. Along with the light bulbs, we handed out brochures describing our new church and inviting people to come and visit our worship services. On each package was a note that read, "Spreading the 'Light' of the World through the Love of Jesus Christ."
All total, we visited over two thousand homes in about three hours. We received a number of comments. Some people were a little suspicious, others were cautious, but most were impressed by the fact that we weren't trying to sell them something but rather giving them something for free. The next day at our Sunday worship service, 11 families from that subdivision attended as a result of our efforts. Within six weeks after the event, a total of 17 families visited our services. All because we were willing to sacrifice our time and energy to show people the love of Jesus Christ in a simple, hospitable way.
The Lord has given the church a mandate to love others outside the walls of the church. Most churches do a decent job of ministering inward to those within the church. Sadly, few churches are doing anything to impact those outside the church. What a tragedy-especially when you consider the vast number of unchurched people who respond favorably to random acts of kindness and hospitality. One of the easiest and most rewarding outreach efforts the church can perform is community acts of hospitality.
Guidelines for Acts of Hospitality
Notice these simple guidelines for conducting acts of kindness in the community:
- When Appropriate, Always Ask Permission
Unfortunately, we're aware of the litigation madness in our society today. Therefore, seek permission when performing a random act of kindness in the community. For instance, if your teams provide hot coffee and cocoa to shoppers at a local grocery store, make sure that the store manager knows your intentions and has approved your being there.
- If Possible, Have All Your Supplies in Advance
Depending on the type of project, make sure you have plenty of supplies on hand. If the project is a big event, it is wise to have someone assigned as the leader or coordinator. This person can delegate responsibilities, arrange time schedules, get permission and perform other tasks as needed to make the event a success. If you run out of supplies, the coordinator can either replenish the supplies or assign someone else to perform that task. Also, use quality equipment and products when performing community services. The people you're serving will feel valued if you use high-quality products.
- Stick to Your Assigned Schedule and Time Arrangements
If you plan to perform a project from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, make sure you honor those time arrangements. This respects the time of both your team members and the people who may be providing you a location or space to perform your services. Time is a precious commodity in our society. A sufficient time span for most projects is three to four hours maximum.
- Practice Safety at All Times
When you are performing a community project, make sure safety measures are considered. Provide brightly colored safety vests when conducting services close to a busy street. Never send teens or children out to perform tasks without proper adult supervision. Have plenty of men present when performing community acts. Have team members wear nametags or perhaps a T-shirt that promotes who and what you represent. Finally, if your community event is on a large scale, use cell phones or walkie-talkies so team members can communicate effectively.