By Jennifer Taylor
Day of Fest
Mountain Christian Church, Joppa, Maryland, began “ServeFest” in 2003 as an event for Mountain members. The church contacted schools and other local organizations and spent a day landscaping, removing trash, and painting.
Within a few years three more churches had joined the party, then 17, then 41. In April of this year 77 churches in five counties participated in the one-day event, unleashing thousands of people to serve across the city in 127 projects.
“We have disappeared as owners of the event and it truly belongs to churches all over our region, including some pretty rough areas of Baltimore City,” says senior pastor Ben Cachiaras. “All we did at Mountain was dream a dream, model it, and give it away—and a movement ensued.”
Luke Erickson, pastor of community impact, says the leadership team intentionally decentralizes the planning. The team meets to brainstorm potential projects and determine which church will make the contacts; beyond that, every church chooses its own project managers and recruits its members to participate.
“People register online; anyone can sign up for any project, so you get a great mix of people from different churches and backgrounds working together,” Erickson says. “In addition, we have a ‘melting pot’ project we encourage every participating church to send at least one person to.”
The day ends with a big party for all volunteers in Mountain’s parking lot.
“Everyone’s tired, but it’s a good tired,” Cachiaras says.
Both men agree the project is as much about unity as it is service.
“The significant thing is this brings together people across so many different lines,” says Cachiaras. “Catholics and every stripe of Protestant, rich and poor, urban and suburban, all working side by side in Jesus’ name.”
Many churches invest thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in creating banners, stage designs, and other visual elements to support thematic sermon series and special events. However, after the six-week series or holiday program, these sets and props often go into storage, taking up space while adding little additional value.
Perry Emerick, campus pastor at Central Christian Church (Mesa, Arizona), created SetSeller.com to solve this problem for Central and for other churches around the country.
“We had rooms full of cool stuff and no space to add more,” he says. “I hated to throw everything away, especially if another group could benefit.”
The new site allows churches in every state to list the items they want to sell: sets, banners, computer graphics, and even audio, video, and lighting equipment. Placing an ad is free.
A school bought a guitar-themed stage design for a dance, and Emerick hopes other schools, theaters, and production companies will find the resource.
“It’s always better to recycle these things into a useful second life than to pitch them,” he says. “With SetSeller, buyers can save money and time by using what’s already been created—and sellers can get it out of their storage units!”
How can an American church-planting organization work internationally? South Pacific Christian Fellowship (SPCF) decided the best way was by partnering with nationals, and so it began SPCF New Zealand in 2009.
In February, SPCF New Zealand launched ReChurch, its first church plant, led by a board of directors from New Zealand. The launch team included lead planter Hamish Taylor (a New Zealander) and two American couples.
SPCF hopes the New Zealand partnership will one day stand alone as a self-supporting church planting organization within the country.
Jennifer Taylor, one of Christian Standard’s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www.christianstandard.com.
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