It started with a guy who had a giant screen and a projector.
MISSION CHURCH in Ventura, CA wanted to find a way to have fun with families in their city over the summer. As they reviewed their staff, their volunteers, and all their resources, they discovered a friend who owned equipment that could play movies outside. Free Friday Flicks was created and two hundred people came to the first event.
This summer, three years after the first FFF, 1,000 guests joined the fun. It has grown to include bounce houses, face painting, popcorn and drinks, and a photo booth with characters from the movies. Over 100 volunteers from Mission work to host the event in a public park near the church’s location. Organizer Lauren Carreras shared, “FFF has given us a lot of favor with the city. The majority of the people who come aren’t from Mission, and we want to appeal to different families who wouldn’t normally go to church events. We see it as throwing a party for our neighbors.”
EVERYDAY CHURCH in NYC is also thinking creatively about how they can serve families. The church has two valuable resources: teachers and scientists. In areas with high rates of poverty, children can lose academic ground when school is out. In the summer months, Everyday members have offered a variety of academic and fun activities for elementary and middle schoolers. The science classes centered around a fun project, concluding with a lesson and appreciation for God’s creation. The success of the summer science class led to a book club for middle school girls.
Salt Lake City is a community with a large number of dancers. Even though dance and church are not typically associated with each other, MISSIO DEI COMMUNITY says, “If you have a gift and you can use it for God’s glory, we want to support you!” With that encouragement, dancers and Missio members Laura and Alyssa started Kids Community Ballet, which holds classes at the church building in downtown Salt Lake City.
Lunch is provided after class, giving everyone an opportunity to get to know each other. Talking, laughing, and eating together begins to break down the invisible barriers that often separate people from a wide range of backgrounds.
Breaking down those invisible barriers has been hugely important to the FOUNDRY CHURCH in Baltimore. Baltimore faced several months of unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. That unrest had a surprising result for Foundry, who discovered that people and organizations were truly motivated to help. The relationships and partnerships Foundry had been building over the last 3 years started bearing fruit. This summer they were able to offer a soccer camp in an impoverished neighborhood. Local Baltimore leaders brought their network of people and influence, and Foundry members (along with Orchard Group partners Mountain Christian Church and Restore Church) supplied staff and equipment.
Lead planter Scott Ancarrow said, “Here you have doctors, lawyers, and students, crossing lines that they would not usually cross to work in West Baltimore. What we often see with middle class families in cities is they either flee or shelter their family. We would like to encourage people to see the city as a great place to live, to help reduce fear of other parts of the city and other people. The earlier we can start to cross those lines, the better.”
From movies to dance, from education to sports camps, Orchard Group church plants are creatively thinking about how they serve their unique communities, and how to best use the people God has given them.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Pray for our new churches, that they would be known as places where Jesus’s love is shown to everyone.
- Consider what unique gifts you have that can be used in God’s Kingdom.
- Be willing to be uncomfortable! Befriending people with different backgrounds will be a stretching experience.
- Consider donating to one of our current projects, so that they can continue the work they are doing in their cities.