The Giant Stirs

Posted Oct 14, 2010 by 4 Comments

I’ve been going to Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana since I was in third grade.  19 years ago, when the church first opened its doors, I was there, and I’ve been part of that church community ever since.

But I can tell you without a hint of hyperbole that I’ve never loved my church more than I do right now.  Let me try to explain why…

The Weekend of Service

My passion for Grace Community Church starts with a single event.

One of GCC’s many volunteers during last year’s Weekend of Service.

Once a year, Grace has a “Weekend of Service.”  Instead of gathering together for a worship service, the church closes its doors, turns off the lights in the auditorium and goes out en masse to serve in 100 different locations across the city.

This year, some people will be painting a mural at a public school downtown while others will be serving pizza to the homeless.  One group will be packing food bound for Haiti while another will be doing maintenance work at a foster care home.

And then there is the food collection.  Teams will disperse across 49 “zones” in our church’s community to collect donations of food for struggling families in our city.  Last year we collected 257,000 pounds of food.  This year the goal is a half of a million pounds. 

It’s a highlight of the year for our church community, and each year the anticipation builds even more than the last.  Check out this awesome promo video written and designed by World Next Door’s very own, Curtis Honeycutt…

So What?

Ok, so why do I mention this here on World Next Door?  What’s the point in reading about this if you live in, say, Memphis or LA?

Well, there are two reasons.

Thousands gather in the GCC parking lot for a short commissioning service before being sent out to serve.

The first is simply that World Next Door is once again hosting a project for Weekend of Service.  Volunteers from Grace can “embed” with various other projects and write about them for our online magazine.   If you attend GCC and want to use your writing skills to help us out, head over to gracecc.org/weekend to sign up!

Ok, but again, that doesn’t matter if you live in Memphis or LA.  However, the second reason does.

I’m writing about Grace Community Church simply to show that it’s possible.  It’s possible for a suburban church to actually matter in the world.  It’s possible for a community of Christ-followers to become so compelled with the kingdom of God that they will spend their time serving and caring for the poor and marginalized in the world.

More Than a Weekend

Now I know what some of you are thinking.  “Um, I wouldn’t say that a church serving one weekend a year is all that special…”

But don’t worry. GCC does way more than just one weekend of service a year.  Our church partners with 23 organizations beyond our walls that focus on a whole range of social justice issues, and one of the requirements of even being a “Frontline Ministry” of GCC is that they get our people involved.

Our church gives hundreds of thousands of dollars away every year to serve the “least of these” around our city and around the world.  We raised $240,000 for Haiti in two weeks.  Our people are involved in so many social justice organizations and local humanitarian efforts that our church has begun to develop a reputation around town as “the church that does stuff.” 

I love that service is becoming a way of life at my church.

In fact, after Haiti’s earthquake in January, word reached our church that 300 Haitian orphans were being flown into Indianapolis.  Within 24 hours, 300 families in our church had stepped up, ready to adopt at that very moment.  And although the rumor later turned out to be untrue, the whole event spoke volumes about how far we had come as a community.

The Sleeping Giant

I love my church.  Week after week I’m reminded that fulfilling the mission of World Next Door is possible.  That getting suburban Americans involved in social justice is more than just a pipe dream.

The best part of it all is that Grace Church is not alone.  As World Next Door has grown, I’ve heard story after story of churches around the country that are also stepping up to the call of the kingdom in some big ways.

Suburban Americans are waking up to the needs of this world, stepping out in faith and wholeheartedly pursuing global justice.

The giant of suburbia has been asleep for a long time.  But he’s stirring…

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Next Steps
    • Has your church community stepped up to the needs of our world in a unique way? Tell us about it in the comments below!
    • If you attend Grace Community Church and want to be a part of the World Next Door Weekend of Service project, head over to gracecc.org/weekend to sign up!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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Comments

  1. Keith Carlson said... 

    Reply

    October 14th, 2010 at 8:06 am  

    Barry – you’re right on! I love this church, too, and am so proud that we do things like Weekend of Service. I’m convinced we can still do a lot more, we’ve got to. Hey, I thought the church was a “she.” Or maybe it’s because a giant doesn’t seem very feminine?!

  2. Curtis Honeycutt said... 

    Reply

    October 14th, 2010 at 11:03 am  

    Thanks for the shout out Barry! I know we’ll get some great stories from the writers who join you from Grace.

  3. joe b said... 

    Reply

    October 14th, 2010 at 12:45 pm  

    I really enjoyed this article…. “the giant stirs…”

    God at work….once again!

    jb

  4. Rob said... 

    Reply

    October 20th, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

    BINGO! You’ve captured the thoughts of many.
    I can’t wait to serve alongside some great, passionate people again.
    Last year I was deeply moved by a team of people who offered free oil changes and basic systems checks at a local garage. Working alongside them was powerful, as well as the stories of those who came, struggling to make ends meet but thankful for something so simple and yet important.
    A couple of years ago the Weekend of Service was on the same weekend as our high school fall retreats. Since we couldn’t change the dates without financial cost we got creative and had the students serve at the camps where they were staying. I wish we videotaped the whole thing. It was simply amazing.
    It’s time for the giant to stir once again…but wait, I think the giant’s been up for a while.
    Yet, there’s room for more.
    thanks Barry.

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