I’ve heard so much “doom and gloom” in 2020, but I can’t help but think that God is doing something extraordinary this year. My confidence in this intensified when during the first COVID-19 quarantine, our church decided that we would not only keep our doors open, but open them wider (metaphorically speaking, of course). During this pandemic, we began reimagining what reaching people could look like: instead of bringing people through the doors of our buildings, we would go to them. The Church was being deployed!
Like all of you, we had to pivot using ingenuity and innovation. In March of 2020, our lead pastor announced that our focus as a staff would now be on three things: pastoral care, the online Sunday experience, and outreach. Being that we are a church averaging 6,000 weekly attendees and have one paid Outreach staff member, you can imagine this took reorganization. Immediately, our teams worked to reassign themselves to these three priorities. Together, with a core group of Dream Team volunteers, we created an outreach army.
During the first few months of quarantine, we focused on the most immediate needs of our communities. Serving projects were created to purchase and drop off groceries to vulnerable populations and to sew and deliver masks to healthcare workers. To date, we have made and delivered over 19,000 masks, and the sewing machines are still running. We provided support to those furloughed and encouraged essential workers with lunches, snacks, and coffee. We joined forces with our partners like Convoy of Hope and the American Red Cross to hold blood drives. As this is being written, we have touched over 120,000 individuals through care efforts.
We are so grateful that God has used us to impact our communities in such a significant way. And we are also grateful that through this, we’ve truly learned to love our neighbor. We’ve all read the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus uses this parable to teach us that our neighbor is anyone in need. This includes the hungry, the homeless, the motherless, and the fatherless. This includes those who are crying out for justice. Jesus emphasizes that the Samaritan, the one who brought help, broke through racial and cultural barriers to do so. Jesus teaches us that we are to help all people, no matter their background, what they look like, or the language they speak.
In helping thousands of people as a church, we have received so much more in return. We have learned to better love our communities through action. It’s embracing this work of God that has given us the ability to accomplish the extraordinary.
Our physical locations are open and social distancing has created limited seating capacity. Yet we have discovered our unlimited capacity and untapped potential that has nothing to do with the square footage of our buildings.
Our Outreach ministry is now helping every department discover new opportunities as they ask the question: how can we extend our reach beyond a physical campus and a Sunday morning worship experience? How do we take Students outside our walls? What about worship? Outreach is no longer acting as a siloed effort; we are a vehicle taking every department to the streets.
While COVID-19 has brought many challenges, God continues to move miraculously. We were presented with a unique opportunity to enter the lives of so many of our neighbors, to provide care, and to show love. Our perspective has fundamentally shifted in how this can be accomplished. Regardless of what the future holds– we will continue to leave the building.
Alisha Henley is the Outreach Director for Lifepoint Church in Fredericksburg, VA with pastors Daniel and Tammie Floyd. At Lifepoint Church, their desire is to meet the needs of their communities, both physically and spiritually. To learn more, visit lifepoint.org.