Across the country, churches are closing their doors on Sunday mornings to serve their communities through the new four-week churchwide campaign called Faith in Action. Will you join them?
By Heather Johnson
Curtis Lake thought the flood of 1996—when eight inches of water filled his suburban home—was disastrous. But what the first week of November 2006 brought him and the other residents of Sumner, Wash., turned out to be much worse. Nearly 10 inches of rain fell on the town of 10,000 just south of Seattle. Seven rivers flooded. Streets filled with mud and silt. And this time, Lake’s belongings sat under 18 inches of water. Also destroyed were 33 of the 41 mobile homes of River Park Estates, the senior living park he manages.
“We lost everything,” Lake says. “And most of the residents just left.”
But, to his surprise and relief, help arrived. Nearby Calvary Community Church (cccsumner.org) had cancelled that weekend’s services to head out and serve the community as part of a new four-week churchwide campaign called Faith in Action. Little did the congregation know their service weekend would be so well-timed; Sumner had never needed so much help.
Early on that Saturday morning, a forlorn Lake stood surveying the damage at the River Park Estates’ front gate, when more than 250 volunteers “just started showing up,” he recalls. Volunteers set out to save salvageable items by removing mud and sifting through personal belongings. Clean-up crews from the church eventually emptied 49 trash dumpsters of debris collected at the mobile home park.
“You know, Calvary was just an absolute God-send,” says Lake, who now chats with the church’s associate pastor on a regular basis. “I saw those people there to help, and it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
Demonstrating Christian service is the heart of the Faith in Action campaign created by leading Christian publisher Zondervan (zondervan.com), Christian relief organization World Vision (worldvision.org) and church communications firm Outreach Inc. (outreach.com) [parent company of Outreach magazine]. The three organizations have put together a name and program to a movement that has been gaining momentum for more than a decade, starting with pioneers like Vineyard Cincinnati founder Steve Sjogren’s servant evangelism ministry (servantevangelism.com) and Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Ark. (fbclr.org), with Pastor Robert Lewis. Eighteen years ago, Lewis led a focused, churchwide reorganization to make serving the community a core value of the church.
Faith in Action focuses a congregation’s attention on local, national and global needs, as well as God’s heart for service. For a full month, sermons and worship services, small group discussions and daily devotional readings, all lay the foundation for the campaign’s culminating event—“Faith in Action Sunday” community service project(s) and the corresponding cancellation of regular worship services. Moreover, the campaign also has an intentional outreach focus, where unchurched friends and community members are invited to join in the volunteer efforts, serving alongside church members.
It has been said that the unchurched don’t care about what Christians know until they know that Christians care. And to that, Calvary Community and many other U.S. churches are saying OK, we’ll show you by putting our faith into action.
-EXCERPTED from Outreach magazine, “Features,” May/June 2007
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