Wednesday, December 03, 2008

“Out of the box” thinking needed!

A few more dahlia pics before getting to the blog. These dahlias are from my 2008 garden. The dahlias in the order they appear are: Kream Kerkrade, Lilac Time, Markie Re, and Midnight Moon. Check out my dahlia web site (The Dahlia Guy) for the complete set of photos and more dahlia information.

After taking some time off for the Thanksgiving holiday---I’m back!

“Lance’s Lectern” is my column in our church’s monthly newsletter. My December column was very different than a “typical” December column. Yes, I did comment on Advent and Christmas. Yet, the bulk of the column was about the current economic crisis in America (and the world). It has been said that “the cream rises to the top.” Now is the time for Christ’s followers (and the church) to step up and make a difference.

Each region of the country has its own economic challenges. However, there are some things that remain the same. They are:
• Lines at food banks are longer than they have been in years.
• Retirees are going back to work because their retirement funds have been decimated.
• Food bank shelves are very bare—donations are down.
• Ministries and agencies that help people who are behind in paying bills are strained to critical levels.
• Businesses are laying off employees.
• Restaurants are empty.
• The list goes on and on and on.

Evergreen is helping more families than ever for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We get our “families” from a local school. The kids all receive free or reduced breakfasts and lunches due to family income level. For Christmas, we provide at Christmas dinner, presents for everyone in the family and food for breakfasts, lunches and some dinners for the entire school break. It is a HUGE project! It is worth every penny that it costs. Yet, this is not enough—it should be just the beginning.

The time has come for our churches to begin thinking outside of the box. How are we going to meet the ever expanding needs in our community?

There are two fronts that we need to be aware of. These fronts are:
• Front #1: People in our congregation—There are people in our congregations that are struggling financially. We need to provide a safe setting where people can freely talk about their current economic situation. We need to let them know that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. The book of Acts is filled with examples of Christ’s followers selling their possessions to help other believers who are in need. These passages should cause us to ask, “What can I do to help the needy who are in my church?”
• Front #2: People in my community—Each of our communities is filled with people who are struggling financially. Some of these folks have never been in such a position before. These folks need a social safety net at a time when such services are overwhelmed. The Bible is filled with calls to assist those in need. These passages should cause us to ask, “What can I do to help the needy in my community?”

This week I would like this blog to be a place for people to post their “ideas” for how to make a difference. “Out-of-the-box” thinking is encouraged! This is a time for brainstorming—no negative comments about suggestions will be tolerated!

Idea #1 from Evergreen—We are going to host a free community garden this year. A family in our church has a small business (three greenhouses) that sells flowers and vegetable plants. Last spring they sold out of their entire supply of vegetable plants. People who never had a garden were longing to learn how to grow and preserve their own food. Most of these folks were wishing to do this for economic reasons. We are planning on setting aside a portion of our property for the garden. Our local water company is providing the water line and meter (free of charge) so that we will have water for the garden. We will offer classes on gardening and food preservation.

More ideas in the coming days.

What are your ideas?