Families Serving Together + Angel Tree = Incredible Ministry

Article by Mike Storts

Reggie Joiner states:

God isn’t holding up a perfect picture; He’s writing a bigger story.

One of the key ways I believe the Orange Strategy invites families into a bigger story is through service. A generation is growing up and walking away from the church because they have found something else more dangerous and exciting. Churches need to offer tangible service opportunities that are dangerous, exciting and messy.

Historically, the church I am a part of— offered a service opportunity every Christmas season. It was a great and much needed cause but each year it became harder and harder to get people involved.

Why?

It wasn’t messy. It was too easy.  It was repetitive. There was nothing dangerous or exciting about it.

Last year, I had a conversation with a staff member about how we could do something for people in our own backyard during Christmas. Through this conversation I was introduced to Angel Tree. Angel Tree is a program of Prison Fellowship. Angel Tree’s mission statement states:

Every child has a story. For 1.7 million American children, that story is filled with the abandonment, loneliness, and shame that comes from having a mom or dad in prison. For many, it may also include following their parents down the same destructive road to incarceration.

Angel Tree is a ministry that reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ. This unique program gives any church an opportunity to share Christ’s love by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners.

Angel Tree Christmas works by connecting parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. Every Christmas, thousands of churches like yours help brighten the lives of countless children by purchasing, wrapping and delivering gifts on behalf of their incarcerated parent—not only delivering a message of love from parent to child, but also the true meaning of Christmas—the good news of Jesus Christ.

In the Orange Move journal it states:

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, every generation is called to see the world the way He sees the world — to engage in a bigger story of redemption and restoration — to embrace a calling to be God’s hands and feet everywhere we go.

Needless to say, I was convinced our church had to do Angel Tree.  I sat down with the rest of our church leadership team and discussed what this would look like for our church. Would families participate? Could we get families to participate? We felt this was the direction God wanted us to move, but would families follow us in this change? We were about to invite families to get messy to do something that could be dangerous and exciting. To go into neighborhoods in our city that they normally would not go. To knock on the door of a family they did not know. And deliver a gift on behalf of a parent in prison.

Well….we did it.

Families bought well over 100 gifts. We had multiple families deliver presents across our city. The response was unbelievable. But that is what usually happens in God’s bigger story.

A statement from one dad summed it up:

We loved being the actual hands and feet of Jesus.

Give families the opportunity to do something dangerous and exciting. Let them get messy together.

_______________________

Mike Storts’ bio :: is the family pastor at Southpointe in Leesburg, FL. He strives to love God, his wife (Ginger), his children (Solomon and Hope), family, friends, and others. He likes exercising, gaming (board or bit), reading, and tech. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Orange Conference 2018