The past few months have looked very different for not only Love INC, but the entire world. Our country has shut down, re-opened, and as a result, ministries, organizations, businesses, community members, and many more have been forced to shift into a new reality. Even with this complete halt of what we knew to be true, church collaboration in Grandville has not stopped.
Fellowship Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and Alive in Grandville remain committed to their community and to the Life Skills Program they support together through Love INC.
In the fall of 2019, Alive in Grandville, a branch of Alive Ministries, began collaborating with Love INC to establish an outreach strategy for their church.
“We built a Church to move into the neighborhood,” shared Pastor Carrie Rodgers.
Love INC connected Alive in Grandville with Fellowship CRC who was already facilitating a Life Skills Program in Grandville. Fellowship CRC was looking for church partners to work with as they consistently connected with Grandville community members seeking support. This partnership allowed Alive in Grandville to have another church to move into the neighborhood with.
Laura VanderPloeg, a dedicated volunteer at Fellowship CRC, and Carrie Rodgers have since built a close relationship and laid a foundation for a strong church collaboration. These two have shared life together and allowed their work in ministry to benefit their community immensely.
As soon as the COVID-19 outbreak struck West Michigan, Fellowship CRC hosted a food distribution site. Alive in Grandville quickly stepped in to work with Fellowship CRC.
“We wouldn’t have wanted to do the food distribution without each other,” Carrie Rodgers shared.
Between the two churches, they were able to pull together a team of volunteers to run this site and serve community members with emergency groceries.
Both churches shared that “the food distribution opportunity was the biggest response to the COVID-19 outbreak for our church.” It allowed both churches an opportunity to continue building their relationship with each other and with the community. It also paved the way for other churches to lean into church collaboration. Another local church, South Grandville CRC, was unable to keep their response efforts in place during this time. In turn, they donated their large supply of diapers to Fellowship CRC’s site. This shared effort provided the opportunity to bless many neighbors in an even bigger way by providing diapers, in addition to groceries, each week at distribution.
The growing collaborative efforts didn’t end there. Grandville Christian Schools heard about the food distribution efforts that local churches were hosting. The school chose to partner with the churches to help their neighbors by hosting a food drive. All that was collected by the community was donated to Fellowship CRC’s site.
Part of the food distribution, when available, included frozen meat. This was something that both Love INC and each site were continually blessed with through donations. Laura shared that they experienced a shortage of their meat supply at times. When this would happen, they would spread the word by posting the need on social media, in their church newsletter and sharing by word of mouth. Each time this happened, a different member of the church would call and offer to donate the exact amount of meat that was needed to fill their freezer. Without fail, God provided a way for the community to flourish and serve community members with the resources they were blessed with.
One of the regular site volunteers, who is not a member of either church, shared on her Facebook about what she was doing with the churches. By the time that she returned home after her shift at the site, her front porch was filled with grocery donations and even a few generous monetary donations. Her community saw the need and a way that they could move into their neighborhood through the local church.
God never stops opening our eyes to the opportunities where we can serve each other.
Many churches and organizations have pivoted, but what they learned during these unprecedented times will transform the way they do ministry. Now, as they shift into a new normal they are focusing on relationships and less of a transactional, emergency-driven approach. Fellowship CRC and Alive in Grandville remain dedicated to the Life Skills Program they have built together. Laura shared that
“we are continually praying for other churches to come alongside us.”
A broadened collaboration will make the volunteer pool much larger, which will benefit the program and the participants greatly. Love INC joins these churches in prayer for more collaborative church partners.
At Love INC, we consider it a privilege and responsibility to support churches and church leaders. We act as a neutral platform to come together to dream, to question, to strategize, and to pray. We want to inspire and equip churches to move into their communities and neighborhoods — together.