Night of Blessing: Tennessee Church Surprises Community with Gifts

 In All Church of God, Change the Story, CHOG, Southeast

By Emily Kearney

As joyful and peaceful as Christmas can be, many families struggle at this time of year, and 2020 is no exception. It was for these families that Tennessee’s Knoxville First Church of God, led by Pastor Jason Scott, decided to organize a “Night of Blessing”—one special evening where the church came together to surprise their community with random acts of kindness.

Night of Blessing is a church-wide event geared toward involving kids from age one to ninety-two, in true Christmas fashion. According to Jason, the vision was “to allow the Holy Spirit to guide [them] to the individuals and families that needed the blessing.” He continues, “We gave away 40 bags (worth $2,000) to 40 different random people all throughout our city at approximately 15 to 20 different locations.”

The whole family can get involved!

First, the church made this outreach a financial priority. Members of the congregation were asked to give abundantly during the month of November in the form of two $25 gift cards. Church leadership made a commitment to match whatever the congregation donated in order to have the greatest impact possible. Secondly, the entire outreach was covered in prayer. On the evening of November 18, everyone gathered to worship and Jason shared a word of empowerment. Then assembly lines were created all across the church lobby to prepare the bags.

“It was awesome to see everyone in the church working together to prep these bags with treats, information, and the $50 worth of gift cards,” Jason explains. “Once the bags were completed, we circled the bags and prayed over them.” Many of the older church members stayed at the church to continue praying while the younger families took to the streets, bags in hand.

Families took off to the stores in their own neighborhoods that the gift cards were from and began passing out bags as people were exiting or entering. Not only did this allow there to be a greater reach across the city, but it set everyone’s hearts on the reason they were out in the first place: to impact the city and let God do the rest, asking for nothing in return. Jason took his family to one of the local grocery stores. “My wife and three kids and I stood in the parking lot and prayed, and then we waited. We took our time and let God guide us to just the right people who we should approach. We were able to have some great conversations and blessed five different couples.”

Assembling gift bags for the community.

Knoxville First Church of God is also planning a second Night of Blessing on December 18. Jason shared that ministry will always be the heartbeat of their church: “We have begun to say that we want to be a church that places the souls of Knoxville as our first priority. We are Knoxville First Church. This does not mean that we will turn our backs on the world. It means that we will focus our ministries and resources where God has planted us. Our hope is that this event, along with other methods of ministry that we are being led towards in 2021, will allow us to impact the souls of our city and point them to Jesus. We want to do all of this because we believe that ‘Life is better when God is first.’”

The beautiful thing about the Night of Blessing is that it can be replicated regardless of the size of the church. “We were able to give away $2,000, which equaled 40 separate bags. However, if we had given away half of that, or even less, it still would have been a win for us. Mobilizing the church in multiple different aspects to impact our city was the goal. I believe that as churches, if we can begin to lead with generosity (no strings attached), God will find us faithful and bless us in ways we never imagined.”

What would it look like if cities around the country were blessed with their own Nights of Blessing? Just imagine how our unsaved neighbors might look at Christians, Christmas, and Christ himself, in a whole new light.

Help churches like these respond to urgent needs in their communities as a result of recent crises:

Emily Kearney is an Anderson University alumna who grew up in the Dayspring Church of God (Cincinnati, Ohio). Today the former Church of God Ministries communication intern is a middle school English teacher at Cincinnati Christian Schools. Along with teaching and writing, she loves to spend time with her husband Derek.

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