I know it sounds cliché or even corny, but my family actually goes around the table at Thanksgiving and shares what they are thankful for. If I’m being honest, that sounds like a bit much for me this year. The cynical side of me has taken over lately and I have found myself focusing more on the losses than I’d like. Probably because there are a lot of losses. But, today I “closed the books” for October and it really hit me hard, Sunridge has so much to be thankful for. So I decided to call it thanks-for-giving (do you see what I did there?) because my heart is overflowing with gratitude towards those who financially support Sunridge and the mission God has given our church to help people find and follow Jesus.
As the Executive Pastor of Operations, I have a unique vantage point and get to see things that not everyone gets to see. If I can, I want to pull the curtain back and share some of what God is doing in and through Sunridge since mid-March when the pandemic turned the world upside down.
We became an online church overnight. Prior to March 15, 2020 Sunridge was an on-campus only experience. But when the “lock down” order came, it was clear we were not prepared to be an online church. But, God used the technical talents of our middle school pastor to find a way to have us ready to livestream our service on Facebook that Sunday. Today I like to say that we are an online church that has on-campus gatherings. Since then, we have been on a path to continually improve engagement and our online service. That’s why we moved from Facebook Live to the new online.church platform. Thanks-for-giving to the general fund so that we could purchase the equipment necessary and pay the salary of talented staff members that make all of this possible.
For Sunridge, church has never been just about us; we are a people passionate about following Jesus and helping others to do the same. For me the hardest part of this pandemic is not getting to be with people and share the Gospel. That is why it is so important to be creative in finding safe ways to build up our church and reach our community. Since mid-March Sunridge held:
- “The Week” – our version of Vacation Bible School utilizing neighborhoods, parks, and our parking lot to provide youngsters with a way to connect to each other and God.
- “The Rally” – an ambitious plan to provide opportunities for in-person connection for students. Sunridge looked for ways to safely utilize backyards, our church campus, and other outdoor spaces to fill in gaps for young people, from our elementary school students all the way up through our young adults. The highlight of the Rally was the Literacy Link, a reading intervention program for students in Kinder-2nd grade.
- “Trunk or Treat” – a complete redesign was necessary on how we align the trunks and the path for guests to keep everyone safe, but this annual tradition not only survived, but thrived.
Reimagining these events required a lot of resources from staff and volunteers. Thanks-for-giving to the general fund to provide the resources to ensure outreach events like these can continue and allow us to bring hope to our community.
While I cannot get into too much personal detail for confidentiality reasons, I can say that your financial support allowed us to partner with other like-minded organizations in tangible ways. For example, we recently partnered with Community Mission of Hope to help provide funding for a family to purchase reliable transportation, putting them on a path toward thriving within their own means. Another example that comes to mind is Door of Faith Ministries. Like so many non-profit organizations during the pandemic, their donations are down, hindering their work. Because of our relationship with DOFO, Sunridge was able to bless them financially in a time when they could really use the help. Again, Thanks-for-giving Sunridge. Your generous donations allowed us to live love in real ways, to change real lives.
Be a Part
I am truly thankful for all of you who faithfully and generously support Sunridge. I hope you can see from these few examples your donations make a huge difference in furthering our mission. If you are reading this post but are not yet financially supporting Sunridge, I would like to challenge you to give, joyfully and from your heart, and see if you find that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. All you have to do is click here and find out all of the safe and secure ways you donate to Sunridge.
Now that I’ve primed the pump, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?