Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Inviting the Community into Our Fellowship - Family, Faith, and Friends

For the last two years at High Pointe, we have been actively seeking ways to serve and impact our community. This has involved many different types of service outreaches, from Habitat for Humanity to FriendSpeak to singing in the nursing home. Three of our biggest service outreaches have been our food pantry, which gave out 2000+ bags of groceries last year, our clothes closet, which clothed over 4400 families, and our outreach to Vega Elementary School, where we help mentor, clothe, feed, and play with kids.

These outreaches have been hugely supported by our members with incredible generosity and active service in these ministries. And visitors to High Pointe and people in the community, from school officials to the local Red Cross, have noted High Pointe's service.

But relationships are the key to sharing the gospel.

So our outreach team, ministry leaders, and staff began to ask the question, how can we relationally connect with those that we are serving? We began praying for those who came in with needs. And then we decided to offer a fellowship meal, once a month on Wednesday night, and invite those from our food pantry, clothes closet, and Vega Elementary to enjoy a free meal.

Tonight was our first such fellowship meal, called "Family, Faith, and Friends." We really had no idea what to expect. We did not know if any would come, but we wanted to try.

Praise God--we had a great turnout of both members and people in the community!

The Hispanic family on the right came to us from Vega Elementary school. The mother's name is Maria Garcia. She said that she had been wanting to come to visit us on a Wednesday night for some time. She works on Sunday, but her husband had said, why not go to the church down the road on Wednesdays? Her husband stayed at home working with some homework with the fifth child. In their conversation, they said that this church was non-denominational, and the church that they had gone to some time ago was non-denominational. It sounded like she had said that this previous church was a church that they had helped start. Interesting--I will have to explore this more.

Maria had said that she was tired this night, but that her son Christopher had encouraged her to go. You have to love those kids! Maria, unlike many of the other Latinos who came on this night, spoke good English. I got her contact information and will follow up with her.

We had a great turnout of people from the community, and I was so glad to see our members mixing so well with those who came. In this picture is Bob Renfro, one of our shepherds, Mary Lou Lively (whose granddaughter was baptized last year) , and Laura Cooper (a mentor for Habitat).

This is Early B. Milstead and his wife Lena, daughter Holly, with an African-American family from the community. It was great to see these families sharing this meal and actively engaged with one another. What a great example to the world!

On the right of this picture is Mike Shuttlesworth, a former missionary to Hungary who just returned and placed membership with his family at High Pointe. Mike is sharing his table and meal with another Latino family from our community.

All in all, it was a great night! We'll follow up with more relationship building, prayer, and Bible study. Tonight was a vivid illustration of what it means to be a Christ-centered community that draws all people together--regardless of race, class, background, or gender--under the cross of Christ.

11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:11f)

How can we build relationships with people in our community whom we serve?


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