Article by Lisa Suttee
January 29, 2019
“One of the things I love about our small group is that they are people of action. They don’t just sympathize with someone going through a hard time. They send texts and cards and show up with a meal. They often miss small group because they are volunteering in the nursery or special needs class. They bring prayer requests for neighbors and co-workers.
When my husband and I began leading our small group a few months ago, we knew that these were our people. As our class discussed our new parenting series about raising grateful kids, we quickly realized that instead of just talking about it, we would need to give our kiddos an opportunity to serve.
So we hosted an after-church lunch and planning meeting. It was a blast watching our kids bounce ideas off each other while growing more and more excited. They had so many great ideas, that it was hard to pick one. The one we settled on for the busy December season was a chili lunch served at St. Paul’s Church with several fun stations for the kids in the community.
Once they had their outreach planned, they got busy fundraising. They baked cookies and brownies to sell in the neighborhood, they raked leaves, and they walked dogs. And they ended up raising $275! One of our class members had been organizing groups of people to rebuild the kitchen at St. Paul’s so they could continue to reach out to their community with meals. With the money our kids raised, we bought St. Paul’s a new microwave for their kitchen and a coffee urn.
On the day of the event, we all attended main service and then headed to St. Paul’s with cars weighed down with enough chili to feed 200 people!
Once there, we set up a chili station with Fritos and shredded cheese. There was a hot chocolate station with marshmallows and peppermint sticks. There was a Christmas cookie decorating station with 200 cookies. There was a gingerbread house station. And there were two Christmas craft stations. While most of us bustled around, getting things ready, some of the dads and kids went door to door in the community, inviting everyone to our lunch.
Suddenly, the fellowship hall was filled and they were setting up tables in another area to accommodate the crowd. We were all busy scooping chili, or helping decorate cookies, or making crafts, or refilling drinks. And the people from the community lingered and talked and connected with the members of St. Paul’s, which was a beautiful thing. And the kids from the community laughed and had a blast and many decorated their first ever Christmas cookies, which was a beautiful thing. And we were told by the pastors that our chili was the only meal that many of those community members would have that day and we sent home ziplock baggies of chili and extra cookies and Fritos or cheese with the people so they would have something the next day, which was a beautiful thing. And we met a man who had just moved into the community and knew no one, but through this outreach he was now known and connected and planning on beginning to attend St. Paul’s, which was a beautiful thing.
But none of those are my favorite part of the outreach.
My asolute favorite part of it all was watching all of our people and their kids finding their place.
Each and every person with the very unique gifts that God has given them, found a way to use those gifts that day. From playing, to decorating, to serving, to talking, to connecting, every person made a difference. One of the little boys from our class was having a dance off with the community kids while the dads invited them to our lunch. He made a real connection and those kids came!
There wasn’t one wasted gift and they all made an impact. And that was my favorite part because that is the heart of God. That we use our gifts whether big or small to share His love.”