Há várias vezes durante o ano, quando os seguidores de Jesus têm uma oportunidade única para ligar os pontos entre o coração de Deus e os corações das multidões de pessoas feridas em nossa comunidade. A época do Natal é talvez o maior desses tempos. De uma maneira, que quase tem uma vantagem injusta, porque até mesmo os céticos estão sobrecarregados por todas as endorfinas de férias e emoção. Podemos direcionar claramente o que as pessoas estão com fome de, se diminuir o tempo suficiente para ouvir o que está em seus corações. Estamos aqui no Natal para trabalhar em conjunto com o Espírito de Deus, como o tempo da temporada nos permite entrar em contato com pessoas de maneiras únicas. As oportunidades que estão diante de nós é imensa, se estamos dispostos a ser focado.
Esta é uma das formas mais poderosas que você pode servir uma pessoa durante esta época do ano. É poderoso, porque você é capaz de se envolver em uma verdadeira conversa com eles como você enrolar seu presente. Mais vezes do que não, eles vão perguntar por que você está fazendo isso por eles. Essa curiosidade irá proporcionar uma oportunidade natural para o evangelismo. Com o que disse, é fácil ser pego na ação física do presente embrulho. Precisamos tomar cuidado para não esquecer o aspecto espiritual de servi-los. É sempre melhor para desacelerar as coisas um pouco. Tome ampla vantagem da oportunidade de compartilhar o amor de Deus.
Envolver presentes – Projeto Larga Escala
Existem várias dicas para manter em mente se você está fazendo isso como um evento de maior escala. Você vai precisar para começar a recrutar de uma grande força de voluntários-não procrastinar-start visão-casting agora! A chave para essa divulgação vai ser o pessoal que se reuniram. Eles devem ser entusiasmado e na mesma página. Você está olhando para as pessoas que são catalisadores emoção em sua igreja. Essas pessoas prosperam na energia e alegria da estação. Comece a reunir materiais agora! Não coloque este fora. Abundância fim de que você vai precisar. Tenha em mente que você não quer frustrar sua força voluntária. O nome do jogo aqui é ter "mais do que muito" para que as pessoas não tem que mexer os polegares à espera de repovoamento quando poderiam estar servindo ao público e ter conversas divinas. Comece a orar agora! Nós estaremos conectando com as pessoas que ainda não estão conectados com a gente nem são ligados com o Deus do céu e da terra. Eles estão em imensa necessidade espiritual, não importa o andar da vida vêm. Nós somos seus representantes. Estamos não só embrulhar presentes – somos embaixadores espirituais. We need to blend the spiritual act of praying with the physical act of serving. If we get out of sync with our serving we cease to be effective in our activity. We are merely chasing our tails.
Our role is to serve them all and let God sort them out. In the past people have suggested that we should only seek to serve the marginalized, but I would argue that their definition of poverty, may be too narrow. The beauty of wrapping gifts a shopping mall or department store is that you will encounter people with diverse socio-economic status, but they all have spiritual and emotional needs. That is what we are really seeking to touch. Do not get bogged down by skill. Even if you are all thumbs, chances are you are still doing the person a tremendous service. In fact I have had people take over the wrapping from me as I simply hand them the supplies and hold down flaps and strings while they do elaborate wrapping. What this is really about is the conversation you share while the gift is being wrapped. You don’t have to be a highly skilled craft person to do this activity. We can all engage in the simple sharing line of “We are here to wrap your present as a part of XYZ Community Church to show you some love this Christmas. Make sure you remind folks: “We are not a part of the mall / store personnel – we pay for this ourselves in order to show God’s love in a practical way to the community. Our intent is to give God’s love, not just talk about it.” Some simple chatter will do the trick until the other person clicks in with some acknowledgement of what you are saying. They will either engage with you or they will change the subject. Many will want to chat a bit. Keep in mind you will be planting a seed of generosity in the hearts of the majority of people we come in contact with. This will be one of many seeds that person will need to come in contact along their trek prior to their conversion to Jesus. We all have a unique path into a love relationship with Jesus. Very rarely was it a sudden conversion. Our part as his followers is to tell our story along the way between now and then to as many as possible. In wrapping presents we get plenty of chances to share our story and his story at the same time.
It should be noted that if you don’t have the resources or volunteers to do this at a mall or large department store, a smaller discount store with a limited schedule could be a perfect starting location for your group. You can always work towards the goal of broadening this event in future years. People will join up in your outreaches for many reasons, but they will stay for one main reason – because they enjoyed working with the people. You need to work with the shift leaders present to make sure you are not frustrating the people present in any way if that is at all possible. I recommend the primary leaders of this be connected with, be brought coffee while the shifts are going on, be asked in a jovial way, “Are we having fun yet?" – engaging ways of connecting the dots with the team by various levels of interactive approaches to show care to all involved.
Liquor Store Outreach?
As Jesus often demonstrated, we need to hang out with the sinners. The name of the game is, “We are here to connect with people who don’t go to church.” This is always the objective to keep in front of you. The object is not to serve churchy people. For the most part those folks already understand the notion of God’s love. I ran into a group who had latched onto the giftwrapping concept last season, but they got the application pretty much backwards. They set up shop in front of a Christian book store. I suggested they move across the parking lot to a liquor store. They laughed heartily at the suggestion. I didn’t laugh. I wasn’t kidding. Not in the least. Another pastor friend was present when this conversation took place. He chimed in. "Sim, that’s a very good idea. If you are after the head tilt with this project you really need to switch locations. I did an outreach like this a few years ago when I was working for a Church in California and we set up the outreach in front of a liquor store. One guy came in planning to just buy some booze and other supplies for a party, including a last minute gift—the ultimate one stop shopping. Not only was he converted by this radical love he certainly wasn’t shopping for, this guy became a member of the church and over time became one of its most influential leaders!”
Keep in mind not everyone that shops at a liquor store has drinking problem—we are wise to not generalize. We are also wise to go to places that have historically been cast off by the church culture in general. Once again: “serve them all, let God sort them out!” A liquor store may be prime real estate for holding a small, outdoor gift-wrapping outreach. Make sure you clearly explain your intent and the point of the outreach with the owner / manager of the store prior to doing the outreach. This conversation is key to the success of the outreach making it or not.
The Taste of Christmas
Here is a quick and easy outreach you can put together as either a business blast kindness event, or a take-home kit for you to give to church members as the exit from weekend services. The materials are easy to gather: 1) A bulk supply of Ziploc snack size baggies 2) Well crafted connect cards with a holiday design 3) High quality Christmas candy.
Candy Canes are always welcomed it seems. If you really want to make a dent inpeople’s lives, purchase different colored candy canes other than the standard red and white colors. Apparently there are now even exotic fruit flavors available in neon colors, but with the traditional shape. Make sure you have some chocolate. This is crucial. Hershey’s makes a seasonal version of Kisses that are decorated in green foil or red foil. There is actually a large variety of seasonal candy that you will find on display starting in early November. You are going for a mix that is attractive in appearance and flavor. The connect card is the anchor. In fact we have a few new fantastic designs available now at Kindness Resources LLC. The name of the game is to give away as many of these as possible with a small connect card inserted into the Ziplock bag. One candy cane, a few pieces of candy is all you need for each bag to make a small effective touch. If you purchase in bulk you can keep your cost efficiency to between $0.07 to $0.12 per touch!
Black Friday Outreach
Some daring people / churches have the courage to take on enormous crowds that gather for shopping specials the day after Thanksgiving. This outreach needs to be done in connection with the store that is willing to allow you to do something spectacular directly in front of their location. I have neverheard of a store that wasn’t anything less than tickled at the offer of having a Black Friday outreach done in front of their location. I have on occasion heard of stores where they pay for part or all of the outreach materials so long as the people from the local church manned the labor aspect of the outreach. This is actually easy to do. Think of any nice touch to get the attention of a frenzied shopper:
- Free Coffee/Hot Chocolate (check out the cool back pack dispenser)
- Free Battery Packs
- Free Ribbon
- Free Scotch Tape
- Free Wrapping Paper Kits
- Free “Pop Up” Bows
- Shopping Cart Valet Service
- Umbrella Outreach
- Windshield Cleaning Patrol
This season, make sure that you remember that people are hungry for relationship. The holidays remind us we are more ill-equipped for relationships than at any other times of the year. We get around those who are perhaps challenging to us, yet they are the ones we love. We are hungry to see progress made in relationships, but we don’t know how to make progress without being driven crazy at the same time. This is a time of year when people are in some ways the most open to a “Big God” encounter. There is a sort of collective verbal outcry that goes very much like this:
"Dear God, if you are real and if you answer prayers, please hear mine. I ask that you would change my family and make us more loving toward one another. Amen.”
It is also important to remember that people are in a hurry. Nearly everyone is on a short emotional fuse. Thus, we must be mindful of the tendency on the parts of everyone to be a bit odd about things in general. If it is ever appropriate to proceed with caution now is the time of year for those words to be taken to heart.
We should also make sure that we invest time and energy on retail employees. Given the current economy, this holiday season is predicted to see a record number of new seasonal part-time employees hit the work force. For many this grim reality of a second or third job will be a shock to their system. They will be in as much need for kindness as they will the extra funds they hope to gain by adding ten to twenty hours onto their already exhausting hours of employment just to make ends meet or to gather extra holiday cash. Our hope is to scatter our seeds at the Christmas season in order to see a return to our love language throughout the rest of the year. During the final part of the calendar year we may end up seeing a return that is greater than all the other weeks and months we go out and serve folks. Na verdade, I think it will pale by comparison. Let’s make the most of what we have before us. Let’s connect the dots and see what God is up to right around us. That will happen as we serve with all our hearts and lay caution aside.