By Judy Reed
When most people think of going to church, they think of going to a building where they sing a few songs, say a prayer, hear a good sermon, drink some coffee with other church members, and go home.
But the Springs Church did something radical last Sunday—they took “church” to the streets.
The church, located on the corner of Grant and First Street in Cedar Springs, first held a “Beyond the Walls” Sunday two years ago, and helped clean up Cedar Springs before Red Flannel Day. This year’s outreach was not as much about cleaning (although they did that) as it was about reaching out and forming relationships with the community.
“Being a church and ‘doing’ church is more than gathering for worship services,” explained Senior Pastor Barry Briggs. “By serving our neighbors, we are worshiping and honoring the Lord.”
Over 100 people divided into teams and headed out to spend a couple of hours on their mission. Activities included finishing work on a widow’s home, helping a couple of homeowners with outdoor cleanup, picking up trash on the west side of town, a free car wash, holding a worship service for the elderly at Mildred Houting in Sand Lake, children singing to residents at Metron, others playing board games with residents at Metron, delivering trays of homemade goodies to the waiters and waitresses in town, and more.
“What we did Sunday is more church than what we do the rest of the year,” explained Briggs. “Church is not confined to four walls; our mission field is not confined to four walls. I like to think of our building as the place we get our assignments and then go out on a mission to serve.”
He noted that Jesus said he came to serve, and that our American culture is more about us being served, rather than us doing the serving. And he hopes that people see the Springs differently. “The Springs has a reputation of top tier worship services but we are more than that—we are a church that cares. That’s why we brought on a local missions pastor, to help those in need, give hope to the hopeless,” he said. “It shows our heart’s desire—what we want to be about all the time.”
Local missions Pastor Cherri Kerr had a lot to do with getting things organized for the Beyond the Walls event. She spoke with the city, mobile home parks, the school, and other organizations to get ideas on where manpower was needed. Kerr said a couple of the events especially touched her. “The kids going over to Metron were a real eye-opener,” she said. “The kids sang and the residents sang along. Some of the kids have already made the commitment to go back.”
Another event she talked about was taking the goodie trays to area restaurants and giving them to servers. “I had heard a rumor that the servers hate working Sundays, because the Christians get out of church and go to eat, and many of them are rude and don’t tip,” explained Kerr. “That broke my heart.”
She said the servers were excited that they took the time to give something back. “I hope that some of them will now see church in a different way,” she said. “This was about connecting with the community and building relationships with people.”
The Springs will continue to serve this weekend. Instead of marching in the Red Flannel parade, they will man a hospitality tent for the volunteers working Red Flannel Day. The church will provide refreshments for those workers in appreciation for all they do on Red Flannel Day.
They also will be expanding their Trunk or Treat on Halloween this year. They will still have the car trunks full of candy, a giant slide, hot cocoa and donuts, but they are adding carnival games in the foyer of the church and a puppet show in the fellowship hall.