05 Oct 13 Ways to Encourage Your Church Members to Give Back to Your Community
Your church is a community that’s part of a larger community. Giving back to that larger community is a vital part of your church’s role.
Your church members can have a positive impact in the city, town, or region where they live, whether they prefer to roll up their sleeves on a volunteer project, give money, or donate goods. There’s something out there for everyone. And connecting your church members with those opportunities helps your church be a force for good in your area.
The Bible teaches us that giving back as a community is important:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24–25
The encouraging part is so important in that verse. Encouragement in this case is all about building community. We need to “spur on” each other toward love and good deeds. Empathy and giving can be contagious.
What’s more, sometimes stepping up as an individual to volunteer can be daunting. But when we join together in doing good deeds, we marshal the power of Christian fellowship, and few things can stop us. Besides, giving back should also be fun! As Psalm 133:1 tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
- Volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen.
Food banks are an essential part of caring for the most vulnerable community members, and many allow your church members to sign up as individuals or a group.
- Volunteer at (or adopt) an elementary school.
Public schools tend to be underfunded. Encouraging church members to volunteer at a local school is a great way to support your community. Your church may even be able to “adopt” a certain needy school and offer support in multiple ways.
Church members pressed for time may be able to give money instead. If your church staff does the research, you can point the way to particularly needy, worthy organizations in your area.
- Give the gift of unconditional love.
Church members who have a friendly dog, cat, rabbit, or other creature who’s soft and adorable may be able to participate in a local animal-therapy program. Be sure to provide your church members with program details and contact info.
- Volunteer at a senior living centers.
Living in senior communities can be lonely. Your church members can volunteer to visit long-term care facilities and spend time with residents. Playing cards, reading books, or simply listening to them tell their stories is something that volunteers appreciate as much as the seniors do.
- Coordinate with employers to set up community service days.
Your church can create synergy with local businesses by asking them to set up community days for their employees. On chosen days, your church members can join in.
- Donate gently used workwear.
Not everyone can afford nice clothing to wear to work, and your church members may have closetsful of gently used workwear to donate. Look into donation options in your area such as homeless shelters and career closets, then provide this information to your congregation.
- Organize community clean-ups.
Organizing a community clean-up at one of your local parks, trails, or open spaces is a great way to spruce up your city while promoting fellowship.
- Participate in a local fundraiser walk or race.
The runners and walkers in your congregation can all help out by participating in a local fundraiser walk or race. Get a church team together and have some fun!
- Support local farmers.
Small, independent farmers often struggle to make a living. Your church members can help them by buying food at local farmer’s markets, supporting local CSAs, and volunteering gleaning crews in the fall.
- Give blood.
Coordinate a blood drive. Many blood banks have bloodmobiles that can come to your church parking lot one Sunday, making it convenient for lots of church members to give at the same time while “spurring each other on” and fostering community.
- Help the elderly in their homes.
Older neighbors often need assistance with mowing, snow shoveling, or other household chores. Your congregation may include elderly people who need help, or your church may be located in a neighborhood that includes seniors who need support.
- Connect with your local United Way.
In many communities, the local United Way serves as a volunteer hub. Call them or visit their website to find out which local nonprofits need volunteers right now.
To paraphrase John 13:35, they will know we are Christians by our love. Helping spread that love in your community by encouraging your church members to volunteer is a focus that pays love and care forward. Your church can send out ripples of love and giving that will emanate and multiply in myriad ways.