A former Pastor was invited back to our church several years ago to preach on “Heritage Sunday” honoring our past. His sermon consisted of a slide presentation including all the “wonderful events” that took place during his tenure. The events were congregational parties. One got the impression that his 15+ years at our church was one party after another.
A few years ago I had a vision of our church reaching out more in ministry endeavors that prompted a building sketch with rooms focused on outreach. One of the rooms was entitled “Mission Biznistry” (defined as a legitimate business operated for the sole purpose of funding a ministry). This diagram was given to the Vision Team attempting to determine the future path for the church. The diagram and plan were rejected out of hand as “too radical”. However three members of that group approached me on different occasions expressing an interest in the Biznistry idea. The door opened a crack so 6 forward-thinking members (including our Pastor) were recruited to form an ad-hoc group to discuss the possibility of establishing a Biznistry to help fund outreach ministries. During these meetings 31 business possibilities were identified. Through a pareto process we settled on a Kettle Corn (Amaizing Grace Kettle Corn) business. Our next challenge was to obtain funding that we thought would be easy considering the number of affluent members of the congregation.
A rude awakening materialized as the business plan was presented resulting in almost total rejection. We heard, “money changers in the temple” or “this is too much like Catholic Festivals” and “this will make our members less willing to contribute” and other such arguments. We were not deterred. We invited Chuck Proudfit to one of our (ad-hoc) committee meetings and he assured us that the reaction was more the norm as churches are still (not just a little) behind in linking ministry with the marketplace. He suggested we consider a separate 501(c)(3) and bring the congregation onboard gradually. We did just that. We pooled our own money and received the IRS certification for “Christian Ministry Campus, Inc.” and began selling Kettle Corn in June 2010. God has blessed this business ministry with fun and growth.
Fortunately, my vision at church was not alone. We have now had three terrific Pastors (Barry, Val, Bruce) who are ministry-minded along with numerous congregational members (mostly new) stepping forward filling the ministry outreach void. Some programs include:
• A monthly “prayer drive through” that attracts local motorists
• A monthly “community meal” dinner well attended and engaging.
• Wednesday evening “Emersion Service”
• Wednesday evening kids program for 1st through 6th graders that is packed
• “Summer Shine” (helping feed local kids out of school) including sports, games and a Gospel theme
• Two new adult Bible Study classes on Sunday and others throughout the week
• Many others
Let’s face it, we Believers are the church and worship is an important part. It just isn’t the only part!