Delivering Groceries and Joy
At Crossroads Christian Church in Macon, Missouri, the biggest wins of 2020 came in the form of spontaneous acts of service. In a year filled with unexpected challenges and unexpected ministry opportunities, Crossroads found two simple but significant ways to bless their neighbors.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the owners of the local grocery store asked the church to assist with deliveries. For years, the store had delivered groceries to elderly residents in the community each week, but when the first stay-at-home orders were issued, it was impossible to keep up with the increased demand. Volunteers from Crossroads agreed to deliver groceries, but suddenly seniors weren’t the only ones who wanted their groceries brought to their door. Instead of delivering once a week, the church’s volunteers went shopping and delivered food to families throughout the community three days a week.
The program ran for three months, meeting a very practical need during a time when many schools and businesses were closed and when many people were afraid to leave their homes.
“When the world closed its doors,” said lead minister Matt Stieger, “we were able to continue to serve.”
Later in the year, as the Christmas season approached, the leaders at Crossroads imagined a very different way to serve their neighbors. By that time, the church was holding limited in-person worship services with distanced seating, but it was clear large Christmas services would not be possible. Still, Stieger said, “We wanted to bring a lot of joy to people living in darkness.”
Using funds from the 2020 budget that were not spent earlier in the year, Crossroads purchased 30,000 Christmas lights and created a simple but bold display. Half the lights were used to decorate a single large maple tree at the edge of the church property, and the other half were arranged on the grass nearby to spell out the word JOY in oversized letters.
The lights were visible from the highway that runs past the church property. The people of Macon almost immediately nicknamed the display “The Joy Tree,” and it became a destination for locals seeking safe and festive activities during the holiday season. Families visited the church property every day to see the tree, and many posed for photos in front of it. Eventually, the tractor dealer next door to the church added an oversized light display of its own, decorating a large field sprayer on its lot.
Both the grocery delivery program and The Joy Tree were rather spontaneous decisions, and Stieger doesn’t know if either one will be part of Crossroads Christian Church’s ministry in 2021.
“Our plans are pretty loose right now,” he said.
It’s precisely that attitude of openness and flexibility that allows Stieger and the Crossroads team to fulfill the church’s vision to “connect people to Jesus and love our community.”