Step Up Outreach Ministry With the Homeless and Poor Step 1: Underwear and socks

Runners will “pick up the pace” to push themselves to a higher level of performance. Problem solvers will “step it up” in focus and energy to get results.

During stewardship time at many local churches, members are asked to practice “step up giving.” If you give 3 percent now, pledge 4 percent for next year, and 5 percent for the following year, until the goal of a tithe is achieved for the household.

What if we were to practice “Step Up Outreach,” as a pathway to risk taking mission for our churches? This is the first of 6 blog entries on outreach. Each step builds on the other. We begin with a story that deminstrates how easy it is for your local church to enter into building a ministry of outreach:

Serving a local church in Austin that was beginning its work of outreach was fun. A laywoman named Mary taught me that anyone and everyone can do something for the desperately poor, even if their household resources were limited. Mary was an old time, counter culture, hippy girl. During the children's moment on Easter Sunday, I asked the group of children "Do you know what happened to Jesus on Easter morning?" Mary's daughter Merris raised her hand in excitement and blurted out "He was recycled!" You get the picture.

One day I saw Mary come into the church and dropped one package of men's briefs along with another package of white tube socks into our offering basket for the poor (reminded me a bit of the widow's mite). She explained that twice each month she went to Walmart to buy necessities for their home. Each time she would pick up underwear and socks for homeless men at the shelter. "It's not much, but it is something," she explained.

What would it be if everytime each of us went to Wal Mart, Target, or Costco, we would add one package of underwear and one package of tube socks to our basket for distribution to homeless shelters in our area? This small gesture would not only remind us of our blessings but also make a difference by giving people on the streets needed gifts that make life more bearable. Thoughts? Ideas?