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Creative Church

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Outreach

Outdoor Advent Calendar

Advent calendars aren’t just for chocolate! For Advent one year, we jumped into the Advent Conspiracy and explored what it looked like to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. Our church is located at a busy intersection that sees thousands and thousands of cars a day. So we decided to capitalize on that with an outdoor Advent calendar.

(Aside: Don’t neglect your outdoor space, creative church! It’s a great way to get noticed, be playful, and use your collective voice for the Kingdom of God. Push yourselves to think beyond the church sign. In fact, outdoor art is a great way to get away from the church sign debate if that is an issue in your congregation.)

We used doors (got them from the local Habitat ReStore). One for each week. We attached a plywood panel to the back of each door, painted our desired image/message on the plywood, and opened 1 door each Sunday. There’s no end or limit to what you paint or say, what style of art you use, or who can help create this. In fact, one of our members came to help on painting day, and it just so happened that her brother was in town and he was actually a graffiti artist! Come on, Holy Spirit!

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Things to think about ahead of time:

How to get your doors to stand up: lots of options like a frame, a support, anchors…

Type of paint to use on the material of your doors, and a sealant since they will be outdoors for a month or so.

 

What to do with the doors after Christmas. There are SO MANY uses for cool doors in worship, prayer rooms, youth rooms, hallway message boards…

Try a YardGive!

Being a creative church doesn’t necessarily mean breaking out the paint or markers in worship. A great way to be creative is to take something you are used to doing and switch it up. Make it a little risky or surprising. Try a YardGive!

A YardGive is simple. It’s like a yard sale, but everything is free. Yep, free. No pricing or tagging. No counting money. No haggling. It’s the easiest yard sale you will ever do. AND it’s an exercise in letting go. Our first one grew out of a worship series during that time of year that everyone loves (apply heavy sarcasm)- stewardship season. We invited the congregation to clean out their homes. Things they no longer used, but also things they may still use but could stand to part with for someone else in need. We collected and sorted it all in our gym and opened the doors one Saturday morning to our immediate community.

This worked particularly well because our church is situated in a community with great physical need. We limited our advertising to several of the apartment communities right next to the church. Resist the urge to advertise in the paper or online if you’d like to build a relationship with your immediate neighbors. “Free stuff” ads will attract people from all over, and most likely more people than you can handle. But if you are worried about not having enough stuff, don’t be. Our church of a little over 100 people filled up our gym and we still scheduled a pick-up to donate what was left. Bottom line- your people have a lot of stuff.

The true beauty of the YardGive happens when the doors open. Most folks are in disbelief that everything is really free and it’s great to be the one that gets to reassure people of that fact. You and your church members also get to let go of the need to control who takes what and how much. If someone wants the whole table of dishes, find a box for them! If you think someone is taking the TV to sell it, so what? Maybe they need the money. Give them the specs so they can make top dollar. We’ve done this 2 years in a row and have yet to have anyone be rude or grabby. Mostly people are grateful, and you get to watch God redistribute your blessings. It’s incredibly freeing. AND you meet your neighbors. In fact, this year we invited our neighbors to donate as well and many did!

Out of all the crazy, wonderful days we have at The Grove Church, I think YardGive day is my favorite.

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