Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In your church...

Thank you so much to all of you who left me comments about how you keep Jesus at the center of your Christmas. You have no idea what a blessing all of your idea’s and thoughts were to me. You gave me so much to pray about and so many new ideas to incorporate into our families Christmas. Someone asked me what we do at our house. Well, I’m going to admit that many times in the past I have gotten it all wrong- which is probably why I have felt like something wasn’t quite ‘right’. We did only give 3 gifts each to our children- but we put a lot of emphasis on those presents and let the excitement build around them. We did leave them under the tree for several weeks and waited to open them with great anticipation- which I didn’t even realize was keeping our focus on the presents.(I know- duh- but sometimes things just become habit and we don't even realize it). We do volunteer and we do give to the needy- however, I’ll admit it was a ‘comfortable give’- meaning we probably didn’t even notice we went without anything when we gave.


This year at my parents house we all decided there would be no gifts. Instead we are going to really listen to the Lord and try to see where He makes a need known during the month of December. Then we are to meet that need- whether it be sitting down with a longely,elderly neighbor and singing Christmas carols, or hearing about a family in need and helping them out. On Christmas, when we all get together, we are going to share that experience and what God taught us. I’m excited to hear how God has been at work and where He has led each one of us. Good stuff.


At home, we are giving each one of our kids one nice gift and that is it. Other than that- we are just trying to focus on the ‘reason for the season’ and our time together as a family.


And since you guys are so incredibly awesome at helping me in the Christmas area I was wondering if I could ask for your help again. This one has to do with church. Lately I have felt such a huge burden to do more. I have been praying and I am just not sure where to even start though. I know in time that the Lord will show me what that ‘more’ is, but at the same time I know I too am responsible to start preparing myself. Do any of you go to a church that has any amazing outreach/missions/adoption ministries and if so- what are some of the kinds of things they do? I go to a nice size church and I know there are a lot of people who want to do more but I just do not know where to start. More than anything I know that it is such a waste of time to plop into our comfy seats on Sunday morning, hear some great worship music, nod our heads during a good sermon- and then walk out of the service and do nothing. Yet sometimes I think the reason we do nothing is because we don’t know what to do- we don't know where to start. We feel so small in comparison to the need. So, we sit back and hope it will go away. Satan loves that.


So if you have any good advice for me I’d love to hear how the Lord has been working through the Christians in your church. Thank you again- I really mean it when I say I have THE BEST blogger friends in the world!


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19 comments:

The Watczaks said...

i grew up at christ prebyterian church in edina, mn. not big, not small.
about 10 or 15 years ago a missions trip went to uganda and saw the area where it is believed the AIDS epidemic started in the Rakai valley. it was a huge area with a missing generation! there are 10 year old "heads of households" and 12 year olds taking care of their dying grandparents. so our pastor and elders felt called and, though world vision, members of our congregation sponsored every child in the area. over our 15 year relationship, we partnered with them to build schools, dig wells, train teachers and farmers, give small business loans, and most importantly, build relationships. the area has "graduated" from its need for world vision, which is AWESOME! our missions pastor at the time, Jon Good, now works for world vision, helping them understand how to best make this model happen with other churches.

my husband and i now attend a smaller church in a different area and we, too, have been feeling called do DO SOMETHING ... do you feel God moving in a global way lately?

bless you, hope this helps!

gloria said...

Amy,
I am a "new" reader to your blog... and love what I am reading so far.....

As for your question about Church. Our church is a small evangelical country church... maybe 60 people each sunday but we are heavily involved with outreach and ministry. Currently we have a weekly ministry to the local jail. The women minister to the women, men to men, etc. We also minister to the local nursing home and veterans home. We also are involved with local food pantry and support missionaries,etc.

One area that I would *love* to see our church get involved in is an Orphan Ministry. Familylife.com has some wonderful tools, dvd's to help your church start and orphan ministry. This is something that is on my heart, personally since I am an adoptive mama. Also in keeping with James 1:27 and pure religion.

Just some thoughts,
gloria

gloria said...

Amy,
I am a "new" reader to your blog... and love what I am reading so far.....

As for your question about Church. Our church is a small evangelical country church... maybe 60 people each sunday but we are heavily involved with outreach and ministry. Currently we have a weekly ministry to the local jail. The women minister to the women, men to men, etc. We also minister to the local nursing home and veterans home. We also are involved with local food pantry and support missionaries,etc.

One area that I would *love* to see our church get involved in is an Orphan Ministry. Familylife.com has some wonderful tools, dvd's to help your church start and orphan ministry. This is something that is on my heart, personally since I am an adoptive mama. Also in keeping with James 1:27 and pure religion.

Just some thoughts,
gloria

Anonymous said...

Amy,

Sadly, we have not encountered many churches who are outreach focused. On our own, however, as a family, we have:

Gathered blankets and have found a homeless "camp" and have handed them out...

Made a Thanksgiving meal and took it to a similar "camp"...

Gathered coats and done the same....

Made sack lunches and drove around Dallas handing them out to people on the streets....

Our next family outreach will be revamping a visit room at CPS. Those visit rooms are DREARY and depressing. We want to focus on one room and add nice toys, some books, easy to clean furniture and some colorful pictures for the walls. :-)

Christina

Melinda said...

I am anxious to see everyone's responses as well. Good idea Amy!
Well our church is doing exactly what the first poster said her old church did. We just launched our partnership with World Vision and a village in Kenya. Our church along with two other local church's are sponsering this village. It is a new start up so our plan is to be there for 10-12 years. I am excited to see what God has planned for us all. On the first Sunday we had all our 125 kids sponsored and our church is fairly small, maybe 500 people. We also work with a Food pantry, many people from our church volunteer their and we support them monthly along with a men's shelter. We also do a ministry in the women's prison at Christmas. Right now I am working on getting an orphan ministry started. I am taking it slow, but know that is what God has been wanting me to do for awhile now. I am excited to be participating in Orphan Sunday this weekend and hope there are plenty of families just needing the next nudge to start their own adoption. Sorry so long.

Tracy said...

Our church 'adopted' a local trailor park. They go once a month and pray over each home as they pick up trash. Then we go to the clearing in the middle of it and set up a huge jumpy slide and grill hot dogs, with lots of cokes and cookies! Set up a soccer field/football game and just show 'em love. The park is well known for it's problems with drug deals and prostitution so it has been great to see how many people come out and let their kids play and get to know us and the love of Christ. Two families have now started attending the church!

It has been such a blessing to me to be able to see my own kids playing with kids of every color and economic status and seeing there is NO difference in these kids vs. us.

Shannon- said...

I love these answers. I hope people post more!!!

Kathleen said...

Our family begins the Christmas season by taking part in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritans Purse. You can do this with your church or just with your family at home. Each year operation Christmas child collects shoe boxes packed with gifts by people like you and me and gives them to children living in poverty all over the wolrd. Last year they collected 8 million shoe boxes from the USA and ten other sending nations.
It is a simple way to make a huge difference in the life of a child who has never heard about the love of Jesus or been given a gift. My children and I spend time shopping at Walmart or the dollar store and buy small toys, school supplies, toothbrushes, watches, kids jewelry, and candy. I love to watch the heart of my children as we pack each box and think about the little boy or girl around the world who will now have Christmas.

To learn more go to
www.samaritanspurse.org/occ

You might also want to check out www.orphansunday.org to learn about the national event this Sunday. Steven Curtis Chapman is performing live with others to share God's heart for the orphan. We are hosting a small fellowship time at our home to watch this event and we hope in time to start an orphan care ministry in our church.

Blessings

Mission Firefly said...

Amy,
My name is Sheri. We met at the Holiday Inn in Guatemala City when we picked up Sophie aka Astrid Ofelia from Eagles Nest in November 2007.
I love to read your blog and you are such a huge inspiration to me :)
Anyways, we too felt that we were no longer suppose to sit in the pew and hear it being preached but were suppose to put the Word into action. A few of us started a group call Mission Firefly and basically we will be going all over the world meeting the needs of the poor. Or better yet letting Jesus meet the needs of others through us. Our ultimate goal is to go into a village and meet as many needs as we can and we don't move on until the help they need is accomplished.
We started out meeting in our homes and discussing what we needed to do and how to do it. Finally, after a lot of research we had the contacts we needed and then went on a scouting trip in Guatemala and found that the village of San Antonio needed help the most. Since June of this year our group has traveled there four times. We are fixing to go on a trip for Christmas and every time we go the villagers are more and more open to us and the message of Christ.
God has opened lots of doors and closed others but we have been so very blessed watching how God is working in this village.
Just keep praying about it! God will reveal his will to you in time. Praying for you :)

Sara said...

I love all the outreach programs at our large church.

We do fill baby bottles with loose change for crisis pregnancy centers

We have barrells to fill up with canned and boxed goods for homeless shelters

The youth go and play games with local nursing homes.

Every couple of months we bring in food and hygiene products for a church downtown that is impoverished.

At Christmas, we pull tags with gift ideas for orphanages in Mexico.

We also do Operation Christmas Child through Samaritans Purse.

We have a missions team that does about 3 missions a year and is starting the orphan care program.

We will be doing Feed My Starving Children next month (I am super excited). Look @ www.fmsc.org It is an awesome project to prepare and box 100,000 meals, all done by your own volunteers (made of rice, soy, minerals, vitamins, dried vegetables)

I am currently helping start our Adoption ministry (which I am going to blog about soon). We have a leadership team that has helped make decisions and gets the ball rolling. Here is what we do:
*Right now we have quarterly luncheons for
families who have adopted or wanting to adopt, to make connections
*I send out emails of various local events relating to adoption (like a newletter)
*we are having a church wide garage sale to raise money for our church families wanting to adopt (and going through Lifesong)
*we are trying to coordinate a transition team to help those bringing their kids home (run errands, dog sit, bring meals, watch other kids, etc)
*we will eventually have a resource library by pooling all our books on adoption
*having a prayer team to lift these families up
*bringing in local foster care/adoption people to do tables in our atrium
*we have a play group for those who have young children who have adopted or are fostering
*we have a Bible study for those starting to be interested in doing adoption
*eventually will start a social group for moms, with different topics (ie transracial families, ethnic hair, how to deal with questions)
*this month we are doing booklets that have our adoptive families in it (pics and stories), to show others that yes, you can do it
*our pastor is doing a sermon this week on it, with video of before and after with our adoptions

Here are some sites to help start an adoption ministry:

http://www.irvingbible.org/index.php?id=1448

hopefororphans.org

livesongfororphans.org

Hope that helps. I just sat down and brainstormed ideas of what eventually I would like to see and we are adding things slowly. Trying to get enough people to help with all these things, but it will come. I truly found what God was calling me to within the church. I had served in other areas, but just went through the motions. Then, I took a break for awhile and after Kate came home, I knew what it was!!

The gFamily said...

My husband and I are are involved in a newer ministry at our large church.... gracehandsofhope.org. We take yearly missions trips to El Salvador as the ministry supports an orphanage there. We raise funds to give those in our church grants to adopt through Lifesong. We also help to filter the families donations through Lifesong so that those who donate can do it with a tax exemption. We hold meetings at church to give information about adoption and orphans. We make cards to send to orphanages and collect medicines and other needed items to send to orphanages. We take meals to families who have just brought their children home. We also hold a yearly picnic and multi-cultural night to bring all the families together who have adopted. Best wishes in bringing in a ministry to your church! I think that would be amazing!!!

Kathleen posted about Orphan Sunday with Steven Curtis Chapman, and I am so excited that hubby and I will actually be in Nashville this weekend to be a part of it!! We never got to go anywhere for our 10 year anniversary, so this is our getaway weekend! I can't think of a better getaway, then to spend it supporting Shoahannah's Hope! YAY!!

Kimberlie said...

Amy,
I love your heart! After I posted my comment last week about how we celebrate, I got to really thinking about it. I mentioned that we celebrate St. Nicholas Day but we also have Christmas/Santa. I talked it over with my husband and we decided that this year we were going to "out" Santa and instead focus on St. Nicholas and how he gave so much to those in need. Our kids are going to get one present each and then we are going to get them a group present that will be something creativity related and not mindless junk related.

About our church. We are Catholic and in OK, the Catholic church here is considered a "mission" church because only 4% of Oklahomans are Catholic. We live in one of the bigger cities but there are many rural, very poor parishes. About 10 years ago, our parish heard about a very poor parish in rural OK and decided to "adopt" it's children for Christmas. We picked a name off the tree, kind of like the SA Angel Tree. In years the program has grown to where we not only supply gifts for the children of the Catholic parish, but for the whole community. Last year they needed the largest U-Haul to take everything down there. We are a medium-sized parish that I have seen give generously year, after year, after year. And not just little Barbies and things, but Bikes, skate boards, clothes, and things that most of our parishoner's kids take for granted.

We pick a name for each child we have in the family (this year 3) and we try to match the gender and age, and then I take each child shopping for the gifts for their person so they can feel as though they really had a part in it. I want them to remember that the best part of Christmas is in giving to others just as Christ gave himself to us. It's not about receiving lots of presents.

Thank you for continuing to challenge my thinking and my heart!

His Hands His Feet Today said...

We attend a church that is 100% volunteer - even the pastors. The focus of our church is 100% outward... so while the average church gives only 3% outside it's walls (SAD statistic) ... ours gives closer to 80% I believe (after paying rent mostly). We don't own a church building or pay anyone salaries ... we rent a highschool weekly.
Things our church does:
-meals for anyone in the church or community that needs them
-give sandwiches/soup out in the inner city
-have visited abortion clinics
-give coats out to the homeless
-visit a nursing home once a month
-volunteer at a foodbank once a month
-we have a foster/adoption ministry!
-help many single moms financially and otherwise
-send money to feed children in Africa
-have put on a dinner for local military families during the holidays
.... those are off the top of my head!

Renea Lynch said...

These are awesome comments! Keep 'em comin ladies!!! I've been having the same feelings about our church and needing to do more. The hard part is figuring out how to present it! Any ideas on that?! I'm off to check out all the awesome links.

Mama Misty said...

Our church just launched a community food pantry. We are a small rural community and currently serve 10-12 families per week, regularly.

We participate in the Operation Christmas Child, and would love to have something similar for the local families...

Taylor said...

I know I'm a wee bit behind lol...but I wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS on your adoption!!! :) I can't wait to see pictures!! :)

darci said...

hey amy-another Christmas thing we've done is ONLY buy gifts for extended family out of the compassion/world vision catalogs (like a pig for a family, some seed wheat etc). everyone has more than we need already..
our church is very mission focused-each week we learn about another ministry going on and give to that-missionaries in our church actually go out payed-the pastors in our church all hold other jobs bc they dont' get paid enough by the church not to, but alot of money goes out for missions. probably teh thing that has meant the most to us in our church is the true fellowship that goes on. If anyone has a need of any sort, it is filled..something needs fixing, a church member (or several) show up and fix it. when we had been going there only 2 weeks, our now-beloved pastor gerry asked us when our move was. it was the next week-he announced the need for help (without us asking) and the next weekend 12 people showed up, WITH lunch for everyone including our other friends helping, and spent the day working to move us. wow. we had never seen that sort of thing before. :)

Jman's momma said...

Hey Amy - if you guys do not already have an orphan care / adoption ministry maybe that is something you could work on putting together. Johnny Carr works through Bethany Christian Services to help churches put together a ministry for orphan/adoption. He is great, lives here on the panhandle of Florida. If you are interested in talking with him, you can send me your number and I can get it to him (his wife is one of my sweet friends and they helped us with all the ins and outs of our adoption.) Or you can contact him through the Bethany site - I just looked but not sure where on there it would lead you to him. Anyway - if your church would like to have him come preach and talk about how you can set up this ministry - I can get you guys in touch with each other (email or phone)

Kari said...

Love these posts Amy!!!
Have you read Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis? It is an EXCELLENT resource to have a study based around with other like hearted people in your church.
I would love to send you a copy if you don't have one. Tom has also created a DVD that goes with the study that I could send you also.
We started an adoption/orphan ministry at our church 3 years ago with this study.