You call your ministry “outdoor church” rather than a food service ministry. What is the difference?
The term “outdoor church” literally described the church I pastored for years in Worcester, Massachusetts. We didn’t have a building. But more generally it describes the coming together of people you usually find inside a church with people who live outdoors, the homeless and food insecure. In Worcester, on Sundays we “indoor church” people provided a meal, a Bible study, and a worship service outside. We also held other programs outside during the week. In that church, our program developed to where those who need food became the volunteers for the pantry and meals. In the model I describe in the book, people get to know those who need food by serving and eating with them and invite them into leadership of their programs.
Click here for the rest of my interview on the Collegeville website.
As an interim, my pastoral work is more about systemic change in a congregation and less about changing the world. Yet when a mosque in our area was threatened in 2016, obviously our mostly white church needed to respond as good neighbors. Today white congregations find ourselves in a similar environment.
At the time we attended a rally and later were invited by the mosque and a synagogue to offer Active Bystander Training. To be honest, at the start we simply were willing to offer our space. On two different Saturdays groups of fifty people sat in our basement learning how to teach others to be Active Bystanders.
Click here to read the full article at FAITH+LEAD
Upper Room Books has done a series of videos on how people find hope in this time of coronavirus. Honestly at first I didn't find hope. But the my congregation rose up to do great work at our Food Pantry. I find God in the people who do this work, and the people who donate, and the people who come to get food. Here is the video that I offered to Upper Room: Link.
For my organized thoughts, see my book Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Developing Relational Food Ministries. In this spot are thoughts that appear for a moment--about food programs, mission, church, building community, writing, and whatever else pops into my head.