One evening this past summer, we served at The Bridge Ministry, a homeless outreach that meets under an interstate bridge in downtown Nashville, TN on a weekly basis. There were about 600 in attendance on this particular night. Our team helped in the warehouse, helped set up for the event and helped serve the meal.
It was an amazing evening. Trucks came in, volunteers showed up, chairs were set, music was ready, mobile kitchens rolled in and the big truck came with pallets and crates of groceries, clothes and other items for people to receive. After worship, a bike was given away to one guest and everyone got to go “shopping” for what they might need for the week.
Since I had never been to this particular outreach event before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Every Tuesday evening for ten years now, The Bridge Ministry has been a practical way to share Christ’s love with the homeless and low income families in the city of Nashville, TN. The numbers have grown (in the summer) to between 500 and 600 people.
But one thing left an impact on me. All those people attended! They showed up. There aren’t any signs. There aren’t any invitations or posters out for people to come to the event. There aren’t clearly marked doors or systems for people to gravitate towards. There aren’t any outreach committees formed and really not much structure, but, people showed up.
What if church was like that – each person who came was so grateful and thankful that they couldn’t help but invite other to attend too! What if word spread like that through your neighborhood, workplace or home?
It brought me to this thought: You don’t need publicity when you are truly meeting a felt need. If you provide food, clothing and unconditional love to homeless people, they will come. Word will naturally spread. And attendance will grow.
At the Bridge outreach, the church delivers. They load up the people. They give them more than they can carry home. They provide hope. And it’s all free, a powerful example of God’s grace and love.
*On a side note, I’m inviting a few young adults to travel with me to serve at the Bridge on January 5-8, 2014. Registration has just opened for this four day mission experience.