Unifying Communities Through Operation Inasmuch

Inasmuch United Essex kick-off.

If one church can make a lasting difference in its community through Inasmuch, two or more churches can broaden the impact. Unity is so vital in the church. And I’m not only talking about “little C” churches. The CHURCH is made up of the entire body of Christ. Unity among bodies of believers is so important, especially when it comes to the effectiveness of the Church to be productive for the kingdom of God. In this month’s newsletter, we are going to look at a community in Tappahannock, VA that practices exactly what I’m preaching. Continue reading and watch this video for thoughts from Kathy Hughes and Sandy Baytops on their very large event called Inasmuch United Essex.

“There are so many reasons not only to do Operation Inasmuch, but to expand our benevolence to share the work with other churches in our communities. Some of the reasons to do so, as suggested from participants, in our version of Inasmuch United are:

  • more participants mean more projects can be accomplished.
  • it provides an opportunity to meet people who we would not have known before.
  • we make new friendships.
  • because of our event, our county can be viewed as a large community doing “good.”
  • it develops trust between faiths, localities, races, gender, and ages.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inasmuch United Essex has been a wonderful mission event for 12 years. (The Corona virus unfortunately halted our progress this past April which would have been #13.) We learn and change and improve on our offerings from year to year, but we think we have a model worth sharing that would guide and encourage others to stage their own United mission day. We can say from the onset, that this way of doing Operation Inasmuch is not “easier”, but the rewards are greater than doing a one or two church event! Leaders in our county reference us as a great example of cooperation, and recently, when the new town managers held several forums to ask the positives and negatives in our county, Operation Inasmuch was high on the list of assets! We set an example for caring and cooperation with about 500 volunteers from 10 different denominations that has become a model for other events in our county, as well.

We think strong organization has kept us together for these many years. Even with the expected ebb and flow of churches which participate (often due to leadership/pastor changes) the lay leadership remains strong because of the desire to help others. We have the benefit of Essex Churches Together, an organization founded sixteen years ago, whose mission states that it “is an ecumenical Christian group united in partnership to fulfill the needs of the community and communicating and supporting resources to meet those needs.” Local agencies and helping groups present information to the representatives which is then taken back to the churches to see how they might support those needs. The 32 churches involved in ECT make up the constituents of Inasmuch United Essex. It is at their monthly meetings that the plans and timeline of the mission day are revealed and needs are discussed.

However, the main planning is done by the Core Planning Team, whose members we like to think of as:

Ccaring
Oorganizers who are
Rresourceful and
Eenthusiastic.

We have tried many configurations for this team, but find that about a dozen members – female, male, pastors, lay people, old, young, black, white, different faiths – have made the best team. In our 7-8 meetings, starting in October, prior to the mission day, the members bring forward the plans and materials needed in each area, whether a restoration & repair project, a services & gifts project, or a “Green Team” project. All members contribute their support and suggestions while encouraging the leader in that area.

Important organizational events start with our annual Soup Supper in early January where volunteers bring pots of soup, sandwiches, beverages, and desserts. It is a simple supper where about 75 leaders are encouraged to sit with someone who they do not know, and/or someone from another church. The group hears an encouraging talk for the work that they will be doing and listens to inspirational music provided by one of our churches. Then the leaders from each area separate and meet for discussion and training on how to carry out their leadership duties. Other important events are meetings held later for the Church Contacts to receive volunteer signup forms for their congregations, and then the Team Leaders to receive final instructions and the names of their volunteers who they will call. There is a follow up phone bank to make sure all volunteers are contacted.

If you find that your church can only do “so much” due to limited resources, talent, money, and/or energy, we can truly say that we are excited and inspired by reaching out to other churches in our community to find out how we can work together, to not only make the lives of many of our community members better, but to grow in our love for our fellow Christians.

We already know that volunteering helps the one who receives and the one who gives. But doing an Inasmuch United makes better community through learning to trust each other more instead of feeling challenged by others, through learning new ways of doing benevolences and finding out that we’re really not that different if our goal is to be hands and feet of Jesus together.”

Kathy and Sandy have been so kind to offer further help to others out there who are looking to unite their communities. If you would like more information or would like to talk to them directly, please contact our office to get their contact information. Inasmuch United is just one of the models we use to train churches through our ministry. Our heart is for the CHURCH and to see it functioning as the hands and feet of Jesus. We pray that this information encourages you and your congregation to do just that!

Three Areas to Help Your Church Thrive

3 Core Areas to Help Your Church ThriveServing in today’s world will be different. We are faced with new challenges, emotions, and struggles that make us give pause to serving in the methods that we were used to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are playing and replaying the same questions in our minds: “Can I leave my house?”, “Should I wear a mask?”, “What if I get sick while trying to help someone else?”, “Am I being disobedient if I do not rush out to save the world?” Depending on where you live in the country or in the world, people are faced with different sorts of questions and different layers of concerns. It is so difficult to make blanket statements that prove true for all right now. But, we can always start with God’s word.

The Bible is pretty clear about serving your neighbor and taking care of the least of these. I cannot find a caveat that says “unless there is a pandemic or you are fearful.” 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” God’s grace is readily available. His grace fills us with the strength to overcome everything the devil tries to pile on us. God reveals Himself as our helper, protector, healer, provider, and defender. His grace supplies whatever is needed to lift the load and allows us to press on in service to one another.

As we mentioned in this video, we want to encourage you to not forget about your neighbors and your community. As we are being told to stay home or to not gather in large groups, it becomes very easy to stop looking outward to see what the needs are around us. We begin to focus only on our family or only on our church congregations. We forget about the high percentage of unchurched people all around us, and we really don’t want to forget them as we struggle with the best ways to help.

I want to leave you with three core areas that will help your church thrive during these changing times.

  1. LEADERSHIP – What a challenging time for our pastors and church leaders! We need to pray for these people who have been called and set apart to shepherd the church. With everything happening today, our church leaders have to be able to make quick decisions that impact large numbers of people, all the while seeking and trusting Christ for direction. Leaders, use this opportunity to refocus on the things that mean the most, both to your local church and to the church. Reground your staff and leaders about the biblical vision for your church and go be the church. As you look for ways to reach out to the community through service, you might just find some new unexpected leaders capable of meeting real needs in your own congregation.
  2. ADAPTABILITY – The importance of adaptability right now can not be understated! This includes adaptability from the leadership and certainly adaptability from the congregation. Let’s not let the devil get a foothold in the church with discord over varying options. Over the next 6 – 12 months, consider possible changes that could occur and pray about how you might respond. Setting more short-term ministry goals with potential “plan B” steps will prove to be effective in the near future. As you look at Operation Inasmuch, think about doing projects in small groups of 10 and under. Even consider spreading out the projects over several weekends to meet any guidelines in place and get the most bang for your buck.
  3. COLLABORATION – This pandemic is definitely a time to come together. The body of Christ is made of many parts and we all have a part to play (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Churches need to unify in ways that they have never done before. People are hurting. This pandemic has brought on unexpected deaths, loss of jobs and comfort, and millions of people are looking for hope. The emotional and mental health of people has been affected greatly. Depression and loneliness are at an all-time high and people are seeking fellowship and relationships. What a time for the church to step up, in the name of Jesus, and fill a void! Community agencies will be looking for help as things continue to unfold and again, the church has to be there for the community. Reach out to them as you plan Inasmuch projects to see how you might collaborate through your church.

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You’ll want to be a part of this!

25 for 25 campaign

Sometimes in life we reach certain milestones that are truly significant! Our life’s milestones will almost always help us grow or change who we are as a person or as an organization in some important way. 2020 provides this unique opportunity for Operation Inasmuch and for YOU.

2020 is the 25th anniversary of Operation Inasmuch! This is a wonderful time of reflection and dreaming. A time for not only looking back but forward at how God might continue to use Inasmuch to enhance churches’ efforts to reach their full potential in compassion ministry. Because God has given and blessed this tool of compassion ministry so generously, we are launching a 25 for 25 Campaign.

Our 25 for 25 Campaign is multifaceted. It will include times of celebration, ministry, and fundraising for growth. First, along with Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC, we will celebrate 25 blessed years of compassion ministry. We hope to honor the remaining members of the original Missions Committee who planned the first event, as well as participate in the Snyder Memorial Inasmuch Day on March 28.

Our focus then turns to the thousands of churches that have used this model of ministry through the 25 years. The campaign will encourage churches to conduct an Inasmuch Day or United event in 25 states/nations at a time that works best for them in 2020. Let us know if your church already has an event scheduled. Maybe you have not conducted an Inasmuch event in some time. You’ll want to be part of the Compassion Revolution during 2020. Let us know how we can help you.

Finally, our campaign focuses on mission growth. One very generous donor has pledged $25,000 toward this campaign with the intention that we would raise an additional $25,000 in matching funds. We want the footprint of this ministry to reach farther and wider that ever before. These funds will go toward several initiatives to help more churches mobilize more church members to serve more people more often. Some of the initiatives will include: video series inspiring more churches to join the Compassion Revolution, training events in multiple states for networks of churches that want to serve their community well, and establishing an online Inasmuch Network offering churches a way to unite, network, pray, and build solid relationships with the intent of better serving the least of these.

The overall vision for this ministry is that we see a Compassion Revolution sweep across the nation. This will not happen with you! YOU can join the revolution this year. YOU can be the light that YOUR community needs. YOU can make a financial gift, which will be doubled, to grow the impact this ministry can have for the next 25 years.