Our goal at Two Rivers, Alaska, Community Church of the Nazarene is to love our neighbors. The challenge comes in trying to do so in our spread out, rural community. We live in an area that is about 3 miles wide and 14 miles long with only one major road running through it. The nearest town is 25 miles away. No central gathering place exists. Diverse schedules are a barrier for creating times of group fellowship. So our church board came up with two unique solutions: 25:40 Sunday and the Sunday Grocery Store.
We call the fifth Sunday in a month 25:40 Sunday (as in Matthew 25:40). On this day, we choose to worship the Lord by being the hands and feet of Jesus as we minister to the physical needs of our neighbors.
Here's an example from our first 25:40 Sunday. One project was to level and seal the house of a 78-year-old woman. The foundation of an addition to her home had rotted and collapsed causing the addition to separate from the rest of the house. The previous winter, snow had fallen inside her pantry!
Around 10:15 a.m. we started the worship service. After an opening prayer, I led in a devotional. We then broke up into crews. There were 33 participants ranging in age from 8 to 78, a great turnout considering our congregation size is 40. Two other helpers had come earlier in the week to work because they couldn't be there on Sunday. Volunteers from the community also joined us.
One woman, a member of our leadership team, commented, "I thoroughly enjoyed working side by side with all ages. One of the coolest aspects of the gathering was a complete absence of complaining, grumbling, or murmurings. I guess we were the hands and feet of Jesus!"
The other ministry is our Sunday Grocery Store. By partnering with the local food bank, we give away groceries every Sunday. Volunteers collect food, hundreds of pounds, throughout the week, which is displayed following the worship service. Folks are free to take as much as they need. Although we can't guarantee what will be available from week to week, we manage to provide a good variety of food items each Sunday. One family told me that the Sunday Grocery Store provided all their groceries for two weeks enabling them to use the savings to pay down their debt load.
I challenged our leadership team to think outside the box when it comes to being missional. They succeeded.
Bob Sugden is pastor of Two Rivers, Alaska, Community Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, May/June 2012