Can outreach, evangelism, and encouragement happen at a garage sale? Ask the members of Bethel Ridge Church and they will say, “Yes!”
Our church garage sale, even though it’s a fundraiser, is also an outreach to our community. Some people are reluctant to enter a church, but are willing to come in to search out bargains. Air-conditioned shopping is another plus in hot, humid weather.
Once inside, I think the welcoming atmosphere surprises them–not only from our members, but also from the decor. We designed our church with great care because we wanted those who entered our doors to feel at home.
Thanks to our super organized garage sale coordinator, Kay, we heard many times, “This is the most organized, efficient church garage sale we’ve ever attended.” The adage “many hands make light work” played itself out this week as several volunteers worked long hours setting up, sorting, pricing, selling, and then packing up the left over items for other charitable groups in our city. People who aren’t members, but wanted to help us with our finances, donated items for our sale. That blessed us and we in turn were able to be a blessing to others.
Kay’s husband, Jack, seemed to know just about everyone who walked through the doors; if he didn’t know them, he talked to them anyway. Soon he had the names of two women who wanted to attend our church services, but would need a ride. Another person had attended a sunrise Easter pageant held on our property before we’d even started building; she told us she’d like to come sometime again.
When we were in the process of building our church, our pastor and his wife had a garage sale at their home, just up the street. A man wandered in and asked why it was taking so long to get that church finished. As they chatted, the pastor asked him if he’d like to see the inside of the church. They walked around and after a few moments the man said, “I think my wife and I will come here when it’s finished.” That couple are now members and often volunteer their time at church. They were part of the garage sale this year.
I had the opportunity to visit with some old friends. When I asked about one friend’s daughter, her eyes filled with tears and she said, “She’s not doing well and we don’t know what’s wrong with her. She’s had lots of tests and doctors can’t find the problem.” I put my arm around her and consoled her. I’ll be praying for them and checking on them soon.
Kay, our garage sale coordinator, also provided sandwiches and pop for the workers. While we ate we chatted about the success of our sale and the opportunities we had to show God’s love. Maybe next year we’ll go a step further and offer a cup of cold water (or hot coffee) and light refreshments to those who stop to shop, and perhaps share a burden with us, making them feel even more welcome.
Is this a new concept? I don’t think so. Believers naturally reflect the love of Christ through their daily lives. A church garage sale is just one more opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones too.