I was reading recently about a politician who stated that if you donated ___ dollars to his campaign that you might be chosen to hang with him in person at an upcoming event.
And it hit me - the "GROW & GO" movement our church is doing this summer flies in the face of that thinking... and I love it.
That's not a political statement, mind you. That's just the example that floated my way this week. Last week I would have written about a guy who told me in an email that he'd like to send me a copy of his "best book ever" if I'd make a certain donation to his non-profit. Or there's the free contest down the street for a Wii hoping to get you to fill out your address, phone number, yearly income, how many kids you have, how many kids you hope to have, what your blood type is, if you've ever sat down for a time share presentation before... and, well, you get the picture.
Let me ask you something...
- What would happen if someone was on a corner giving Wii's away for free - no strings attached?
- Or if that guy gave out his book for free without any donation?
- Or if that politician gave every American a chair to sit down in at least once a day during one of his meals?
I know, I know... I'm being impractical.
Which is why I love what our church just started doing. Something very, very "impractical." Something that reveals how impractically normal the free love of God is in a world that is used to not getting anything for free.
What is GROW & GO? We've been meeting for two services on Sunday since earlier in the year, and then decided that for July and August we were going to tweak things. We went down to one service that we call our "GROW" service, and then made our second slot a "GO" service where we launch out into the community to do intentional and practical loving acts of service.
This past week it was a "fast food buy" and "vending machine food giveaway." The plan was for our people to spend 45 minutes or so buying food for random strangers in the community, whether it was the people behind them in the fast food lane or by leaving free food strategically placed in vending machines around town. We attached a card that read:
We hope this small gift is a blessing to your day. It’s our simple way of letting you know that God loves you… right now.
If there is anything we can do, though, give us a call. We’d love to help you in a practical way or simply hang out and talk about the stuff that matters. www.ConnectionChurch.org
The stories that have poured in have been amazing. Here's just one:
The community outreach on Sunday was awesome. I went out with Mike, Rosemary, Jon and Sue. After a trip through the Wendyʼs drive thru we stopped in at Chipotle and had lunch for ourselves. I paid for half of the coupleʼs lunch behind me. It was really great to see how they reacted when they went to pay for their food. After they were done they came up smiling and gave a sincere thank you. We could tell they were very moved by it and it made my whole week. Mike and Rosemary stopped in at Blockbuster and paid for a few movie rentals, I thought that was a great idea. Overall I think it was very successful.
This next week we're putting "break packs" together of chips, drinks, and something sweet. We'll hit random places and ask people working, "Hey have you had your break yet? If not, here's something for you free to enjoy." I hope we bless the socks off of everyone from the minimum wage earning teenager to the weary adult who has decided the world is selfish and so "why bother?"
Now maybe you're wondering why we put the church tag on that card. Maybe the best outreach is anonymous? Often it is, like these shirts we made up some time ago that have absolutely no tag to our church.
I find that other times, though, we want people to know where they can continue to find God, love, care, grace, and tools for growth. So sometimes we tag this kind of stuff. Which means we receive their address and info only when they indicate they'd like to begin a two-way relationship of communication.
What I'm most excited about, though, is that many people will end up rethinking the way the world works. And maybe key into the way it's supposed to work. Like the examples I first mentioned:
- The politician wants to know you're worth his time before he gives you an audience - so surveys and polls are done of "key areas" and the fact that you would donate money is a sign that you have merit. What if none of that was required for his time?
- The non-profit wants to get your info so they can solicit you again for future donations and share more stories of how you can help. So before you get a free book, you gotta give some cash. What if the book was given out without that, though... because if it is the best book ever then everyone wins.
- The Wii giveaway? They're buying your information for free... and they'd like to make more they have it all before you win. What if the company decided instead to give a Wii away simply to bless someone's day.
I know, I know... still impractical.
And yet doesn't something within you wish that this was the way the world worked?
And maybe in wishing that, we can take a practical step in that direction.
I think those are the footprints Jesus left for us to follow.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:14-18)
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42)
Yes, our Father God wants to give you the free gift of heaven through a relationship that He makes possible as Jesus Christ and empowers as the Holy Spirit. But He is also looking to change the currently-broken world so that His will may be on earth as it is in heaven.
And He is looking for men and women who want that change to start in them and through them.
May we GROW and GO against the "norm" so that the True Normal can be revealed, one loving act at a time in the Way of Jesus.