One of the core questions we asked when we planted Mission Church was, "What’s missing?" When you look around at the city and neighborhood God has called your church to serve, what is missing? How can your church bring restoration through relief and development?
We also believe @@we can’t solve every problem, but we can solve a few.@@ One of the few things we noticed that was missing was Christmas presents for many kids in the neighborhoods we serve. Too many Christmas mornings, kids who live amongst us run to their Christmas tree with excitement to find nothing for them. For us, this is not ok.
So we stole an idea from our friends at Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL: We started an annual Holiday Gift Mart. 5 years later, it serves a total of 5 schools and more than 500 families with 5,000 gifts! And here is the best part: It’s 100% volunteer led!
I want to share 3 reasons you and your church need to do a Holiday Gift Mart next Christmas (because it's too late to pull it off this year):
1. It Partners You With Your Community
At our first Gift Mart this year, I stood next to a very energenic principal and caught her in a quiet, tender moment. Her silence sparked my curiosity as we looked on over the Gift Mart so I turned to see her face. Sure enough, tears were filling her eyes as she looked over the families of her school shopping for gifts. It was an Only-God moment. Her staff partnering with our volunteers to serve hundreds of people. In a few hours, the amount of trust built between their school and our church is immeasurable.
2. It Empowers Leaders Within Your Church
The Holiday Gift Mart is powered by a couple hundred volunteers and is 100% volunteer led! he diversity of roles is so great it enables you plenty of opportunity to recruit and unleash people's unique skills and gifts within your church. Speaking of that...
3. It Provides An On-Ramp To Serving
This is the best opportunity all year to get people serving. In fact, when you open registration, don't allow your regular volunteers to sign-up for the first week. One of the consistent wins of the Holiday Gift Mart s, every year, people are serving for the first time. In January, this translates into people joining our Weekend Volunteer Teams.
Here is a picture of our 100% Volunteer led team:
The basic premise is:
- You partner with a local school to discern the need
- Your church hits the stores to buy gifts for the Gift Mart
- Families in need show up and pay $1-2 per gift and feel dignified
- All the money that comes in goes right back to the school!
- Kids wake up, come downstairs and see gifts under the tree!
(Ok, it’s a little more complex than this. Leave a comment and we’ll get you more information.)
We know these gifts don’t solve everything, but we believe they provide a little hope and joy for that family. And for us, that is worth all of the effort.
What’s missing in your world? What are you doing this Christmas to bring restoration?