I don’t know when they installed it. It certainly wasn’t during my time living there. But I’ll never forget driving the freeway past my home town of Yakima and seeing a large, garish sign that declared: “Yakima: The Palm Springs of Washington.” I actually laughed out loud. I’m not sure what ad agency came up with that idea (or if they’d ever even VISITED Yakima) but you had to hand it to the city leaders: they were certainly putting their best spin on a dry, hot place. They were definitely “FOR their city.”
That was my sermon theme last Sunday; what does it mean for us to really be FOR the city in which God has placed us? I gave a few ideas at the end of my message, but I’d like to share one real life example here. A family new to Chapel Hill approached us and said they wanted to do something FOR our community. They recruited 30 people and tomorrow, Sunday, will be gathering to stuff backpacks full of school supplies in the Gathering Place. These will be distributed to over 200 students identified by our Peninsula School District as being in significant need. These families have been invited to an event sponsored by the Children’s Home Society of Washington on August 7, where they will pick up these backpacks for their kids, along with other helpful resources and a smile.
LIKE THAT! THAT’S being FOR our city and community. “But,” you might protest, “that sounds expensive.” And indeed, this initiative cost $1500. Which brings up an exciting opportunity being funded by our Beyond These Walls initiative. (BTW eliminated all our debt and freed up about $500,000 annually to ministries and needs “beyond these walls.)
Our new Member Empowerment Grants (MEG) are designed to provide “seed money” for member-initiated ideas that will bless our city and community. These grants will be relatively simple to apply for and the primary requirement will be that the group report back on how the gift blessed the community and brought glory to God.
Think of these MEGs as spiritual venture capital. We want to invest in launching Chapel Hill folks and LifeGroups in new and innovative ways of ministering to our community and region for the sake of Jesus. They may not be the six-figure gifts we are making to our key ministry partners, but they have the potential of being transformational in the lives our Chapel Hill “spiritual entrepreneurs” and the people whose lives they will touch.
If you’d like more information on Member Empowerment Grants, you can go to this link. Join me tomorrow as I share some more remarkable stories of creative, committed Chapel Hill folks and their love for their community.