By Lane Corley
Here’s a few simple holiday outreach projects that any church, small group, family or individual can afford. I can testify that these make a big impact with a small investment of time and money.
1. Gift cards for ICU waiting rooms. At any given time in your community there are people reeling from traumatic events or devastating illness. Their families can be found in waiting rooms at your local hospital. Pick up a handful of gift cards to the closest restaurants and coffee shops, drop by and give them out with a “Praying for You” card from your church. Offer to pray for anyone you get to talk with. Simple act of kindness can breathe life into someone that is overwhelmed with bad news. If no one is there, give them to the nurses desk and they’ll pass them out for you. These nurses could also use prayer and encouragement. Call ahead and find out when visiting times are so that you know when people are in the waiting rooms. $100 for five to ten gift cards.
2. Care packages for the homeless. If you live in a metro area or near the interstate, you probably get an invitation to serve the homeless everyday at area red lights. “Should I give them money?” is a constant question. Few of us carry cash anymore. Doing nothing is not desirous for most believers. How about make up some simple care packages with some goodies that that can be passed out the window of a car? Keep three to five in your car at all times. $10 per bag.
3. Christmas decor for nursing home residents. Go to your local nursing home and ask for a list of residents with no local family. The reality for these residents is often few visits if any, few seasonal decorations for their walls, few convenient items like warm socks or lotion. Offer to pray for them. Find out what they want or need and plan a return visit. Spend some time listening to their story. $25 for a few Christmas decorations and simple cards colored by kids.
4. Fruit baskets for elderly shut-ins. Local shut-ins are lonely. They often feel trapped. They often have simple to-do’s around their home that can be taken care of in less than an hour. Making up fruit baskets to deliver to them gives you a reason to encourage them with a visit & find out other needs that your faith community can take care of on their behalf. $25 for a bowl or basket and fruit and other goodies to go into them.
5. Weatherization for local widows. In every community there are widows and widowers that can no longer take care of simple things like wrapping their pipes or preparing their home for winter. A great project for the men’s group could be spend one Saturday per year wrapping pipes. $100 worth of weatherization supplies.
6. Holiday treats for local teacher’s lounges. We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools.” Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing. We found one way that is enthusiastically accepted 100 percent of the time at our local schools: stuffing snack baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays and end of school. Christmas is a great time for this. Shoot for the week that school is getting out. There’s probably a party going on! $100 per teacher’s lounge.
What other similar outreach ideas have you or your church done at Christmas?
- Every ICU patient family got a gift card and a prayer.
- Every homeless person got a care packet.
- Every nursing home resident had Christmas decorations.
- Every shut-in got a fruit basket.
- Every widow had her pipes wrapped for winter.
- Every teacher’s lounge had holiday treats and a note of encouragement from your church.
Lane Corley is a church planting strategist for Louisiana Baptists and pastor of the Bridge Church in Madisonville. This editorial first appeared on his blog.