By Kris Eldridge
How does your church show love to area schools, teachers, and students?
In late summer for the last eight years, Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky.—known as the Love the ‘Ville church—has done so with thousands of bags of mulch and hundreds of volunteers.
Last year, NECC partnered with 33 schools to spruce up their campuses so they were ready to welcome back teachers and students. The annual project fills a need the schools identified—getting their campuses ready for classes—while also building pride and camaraderie. About 20 to 30 volunteers at each school trimmed shrubs, pulled weeds, put down fresh mulch—about 5,000 bags—and spiffed up the grounds.
This year’s School Blitz will be even larger and include more collaboration because more churches will be serving even more schools. Over the last three years or so, Northeast’s leaders have felt the call to work toward citywide church unity. Co-lead pastor Jason Shreve, specifically, has sensed this call and has been praying through John 17, where Jesus prays for “complete unity.”
As Jason has prayed for unity, he has heard from others in the Louisville church community who have felt this same call, or burden, pushing them to pursue unity with other churches.
Church leaders met and began exploring how to build relationships with one another. As a solid first step, church leaders decided to serve in the School Blitz together, as many of them were already serving area schools in various ways. It was a natural first step.
The prayers and collaboration will bear fruit this weekend as 10 Louisville churches serve 41 schools in Jefferson and Oldham counties. Church leaders have been connecting with each school to assess the top three needs of that building, and will supply 20 to 30 volunteers to meet those needs. Although each church will participate in different ways, every single church is valued and important. Church leaders say that collaboration among the houses of worship is just as important as what they can accomplish this weekend.
Through the School Blitz and other outreach efforts, Northeast Christian Church has sought to emulate Christ by reaching out and showing love to its neighbors with no strings attached.
“Live an exemplary life in your neighborhood so that your actions will refute their prejudices,” Peter wrote. “Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives” (1 Peter 2:12, The Message).
It’s those small acts of love (one after another) and those bold acts of kindness (time after time) that are opening people’s hearts to God.
NECC has seen evidence of that as it has gained the reputation as the Love the ‘Ville church. Time and again, people have renewed their faith in Christ because of the way Northeast loved them . . . not as a project, but as beloved children of God. One of the most consistent sources of those renewing of faith stories has come via their school partnerships, including the School Blitz.
Kris Eldridge serves as local outreach pastor at Northeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky.