I am serving with church planters in Loveland, Colo., this summer. Recently, we had opportunities to put into practice Colossians 4:5, which says, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity."
Usually on Sundays, we get to church two hours early to unload the trailer and set up for worship services in a local elementary school. However, one particular Sunday when we arrived, the parking lot was filled with bicyclists, and we couldn't park in our usual area. We found out a major round-trip bike ride from Denver to Fort Collins was under way to benefit people with multiple sclerosis. In the course of the morning, 3,000 bicyclists would pass through this checkpoint to rest and get food and water before making their way back to Denver.
Instead of being annoyed by all the people and inconvenience, one of the leaders at our church told us to ask the race volunteers if there was anything we could do to help them, instead of spending the whole morning setting up. So, we jumped right into the action and assisted other volunteers in preparing food, refilling supplies and making conversation with the bicyclists.
Helping out at the bike race illustrated a tenet that church planters have at the core of their ministry -- the church is the body of Christ, and we must be connected with the community. Our supervisor told us a lot of churches start to die because they become too inwardly focused and forget that the church is meant to impact and interact with the community for Christ.
I am so grateful God gave us that unexpected opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and interact with a lot of people who probably never set foot in a church.
The blessings didn't stop there. When all the bicyclists had passed through, a lot of granola bars were left over, and the head volunteer gave them to our church. My partner, Erin, and I were put in charge of making gift baskets with the granola bars to deliver to people in Loveland. We found inexpensive baskets at a thrift store and filled them with granola bars, along with Waypoint Church postcards and pens. Then we went around town to deliver them to staff and workers at places as varied as the mayor's office, a realty company and a tanning salon.
It was so sweet to see people's reactions to a simple but unexpected gift. The assistant in the mayor's office was delighted and surprised to find the gift basket was for her and not just another thing to pass along to the mayor. Another woman said the gift basket made her day. For me, it was wonderful to see how God provided the means for us to bless average working people in Loveland and share his love with people who may not know him.
Christa Walker, a student at Texas A&M University, is a Go Now Missionary in Loveland, Colo.