Saturday, June 26, 2004

Outreach By Hobby

I was just visiting a friend in Central California who told me about his church. Sounds like a nice church, in general, but what really struck me was that it has what you might call outreach-by-hobby.

The specific example he gave me was that the church sponsors a quilting group. By way of contrast, my church has support groups for people going through various kinds of trials: a cancer support group; a parents of ADD children group, etc. That's good, but this is a great addition. Not everybody is going through a trial for which they need support, but there are lots of people who have hobbies they'd like to share: quilting, bike riding, bridge, woodworking, model railroading, cooking, kite flying, scuba diving, painting, camping, and a thousand others.

When I heard about the church-sponsored quilting group, it occurred to me how much easier it would be to invite someone with a common interest to a group that shares that interest, rather than inviting them to church, which may be for many an alien and intimidating environment.

I think it would be great for churches to sponsor as many of these hobby groups as there are knowledgeable and competent church members to lead them, and for which the church can provide a solid core of members.

But how can these groups be a stepping stone to faith? Well, the church could let hobby groups meet in its facilities, thus making the church building a little more familiar and a little less intimidating to newcomers. Also, the hobby groups could start with a prayer. But most importantly, as the Christian members interact among themselves in a godly manner, and as they show kindness and develop friendships with the non-Christian members of the group, I think opportunities to share Christ or to invite people to church would naturally and comfortably arise.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Unrequested Advice for Grads

Not that anybody asked me, but I'm going to give a word of advice to college and high school grads from someone who has been out of college and high school longer than he cares to mention and has made the mistake he doesn't want you to make. Here's my one bit of advice:

Don't loose track of your friends!

I know you think you'll stay in touch, but things happen, you get busy, and probably you'll slip. People will move and forget to let you know, or get married and change their names. So, in addition to getting their current email address, phone and mailing address, learn your friend's parents' names, address and phone number (parents are a bit more settled and less apt to move around). Learn your friends' full names. Is it Kim or Kimberly or Kimberlee? What are their middle names? (Believe me, it's a lot easier to find a John Danforth Smith than it is to find a John Smith). Then sign up with something like

In 10 or 15 years you may be very glad you did this.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Christian Community Service

When I was in college I was part of a campus ministry similar to Campus Crusade for Christ. Overall, it was pretty great, but when I got out of college ... nothing. Well, not really nothing. I became part of a good church, but I miss the fellowship and focus of an outwardly-focused organization devoted to bringing Christ to the world.

So I think it would be great if there was a non-denominational organization devoted to 1) Christian growth, 2) mutual support, and 3) local community service - kind of a cross between Campus Crusade and the Lions Club.

Christian Community Service (or whatever it's called) could be a regular dues-paying club that meets once a week for lunch or dinner at a restaurant. There would be teaching, prayer and fellowship, and members would help each other out in times of need. Then, every month or three, CCS would have a community work day. It would arrange with the local parks department to plant flowers at a park, or with the school district to paint classrooms at a local school, or with other local service organizations to do repair work at low income homes. It could raise money to provide scholarships to students from the local high school or to buy playground equipment. The object of these good works - aside from the obvious one of benefitting the community - would be to get Christians out, mingling as Christians with their neighbors and other members of the community, creating friendships with non-Christians, showing love to the community, and hopefully, providing opportunities to share about Christ.