I really see God moving and working in the local church in the area of mission to the poor and marginalized. In the congregation where I serve (Sylvania, Ohio) and in several neighboring congregations, God is cultivating a deep compassion for those who are unemployed and underemployed, and for those who are hungry both for food and for companionship.
In our congregation, the seeds for our weekly Daily Bread ministry were planted when we built and dedicated our Christian Life Center. With seating at tables for 450 and a vastly-expanded kitchen, I urged our leaders and members to consider how these new assets could be used to minister to those beyond our doors. About 2 years later, God raised up a champion for this ministry, and Daily Bread became a reality.
In September 2009, we began serving weekly hot supper every Wednesday evening. The original team numbered in the 20’s and included greeters, cooks, and prayer and hospitality teams. Over two years’ time, this ministry has drawn in over 75 of our members and many friends. High school students have come to us to earn volunteer hours, and have continued to serve long after their school requirements were met. We have gained new members through this ministry too – people who discovered Daily Bread and came to volunteer have, in time, found a church home where worship isn’t just a Sunday morning activity, but a daily expression of gratitude to God. We pray before supper every week and offer an opportunity for worship with the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation immediately following supper.
Our desire to feed body and soul has expanded to include a greatly expanded food pantry that is open Monday through Friday and a weekly distribution of perishable food released by grocery stores every Wednesday. Where we were once known in the community for our preschool, rummage sale, and handbell concerts, we are now also known as a church who feeds hungry people.
The key for us, and for any congregation who wants to move along with God in their community is to ascertain what unmet needs exist there and then pray that God will raise up the leaders and resources needed to bring the ministry to life. We have also discovered that a low control and high accountability model of leadership has allowed this ministry to flourish with God’s blessing.
What need is God waiting for your congregation to discover and meet?