The doors to Community Café open every Sunday after worship services at Good News Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee. Community members from all walks of life come together to eat lunch and fellowship. This free meal is open to the public, and we have served many homeless people, persons escaping abusive relationships, addicts finishing rehab and people from the neighborhood who simply want a free lunch. It is rare for visitors to make the effort to come upstairs to worship.
We soon realized we were spending more time and effort serving lunch than serving the greater needs, so we are now encouraging our leadership and members to begin to “adopt” those who come through the doors by intentionally spending time with one or two and taking a personal interest in their well-being. The purpose for “adopting” these visitors is to build relationships with them, giving us opportunity to pray with and for them and share the life and love of God with them.
We know we cannot rescue most people from their struggles in life, but we can direct them toward resources that may help them through those struggles. Our pastoral team is equipping itself to know what resources are available in the community.
Associate pastor Jan Taylor facilitates the Community Café ministry by selecting the menus, recruiting and coordinating volunteers and ensuring that there will be enough food. When someone comes in for a meal or to pick one up for a friend or family member, Jan and her volunteers take their name and any prayer requests, stopping to pray for their needs if they are urgent. This brings a personal Christ-like touch to the ministry so that it is more than just a free meal handed out impersonally.
Jan recently showed me her most recent effort in ministering to our neighbors. She had posted pictures and names of regular “clients” on the kitchen wall. “This will help us get to know them individually,” she said with a smile.
This practical, hands-on approach to ministering the adopted life of God to others is beginning to bear fruit. Relationships are being built. As those relationships have grown, the members have invited their new friends upstairs, and some of them have come to worship. Everyone gets to experience the blessings of sharing in the adopted life of Father, Son and Spirit in the community of shared meals and prayer, and almost all leave smiling. Whether they worship with us or not, the ministry of Christ to the needy, homeless and hurting is bearing fruit and growing, and people’s lives are being blessed. This is the family of God in action.