No Strings Attached: Ohio Church Hosts Rummage Sale, Gives Everything Away
By Carl Stagner
For six months leading up to the big day, First Church of God in Van Wert, Ohio, collected gently used clothing and household goods. All the planning and preparation put into the project certainly resembled the makings of a rummage sale, but one key component set this event apart from the ordinary. While fundraisers for youth ministry and other church campaigns are certainly appropriate drivers for discount displays in yards, garages, parking lots, and the occasional fellowship hall setting, First Church of God had something else in mind—just give it all away.
Implementation didn’t come without Spirit-led, strategic thinking, though. At 9:00 in the morning, the freebies were only available indoors to residents of a men’s homeless shelter and a women’s crisis center. At 10:00, after these carefully selected individuals were given first dibs, the free sale was moved outdoors and opened to the general public. Anything left over was donated to a thrift store.
“The idea [first] came to a young married couple in our church who has been coordinating outreach events on a regular basis,” Pastor Ben Brigham explains. “We also gave away hot dogs, snacks, and drinks to everyone.”
Motivated by the love of Jesus and the mission he gave the church, Pastor Ben says the Heartfull Hands Giveaway was just one part of a larger goal. The Van Wert church aims to be “on the move.”
“‘On the move’ simply means bringing the love of Jesus out into the community instead of expecting the community to come inside the church building to find it,” he explains. “Getting out of the building matters because most unchurched people seldom attend a Sunday church service to find God. Like the rest of us, God has to ambush us with his love wherever we are to get our attention. It also matters that the redeemed of God bring his love out in the world because that is the way of ordinary Christianity.”
Throughout the year, a variety of other projects sourced at the church reflect the congregation’s determination to be “on the move” for the Lord and his kingdom. Blessing bags are filled with practical items for persons housed at shelters, crisis centers, nursing homes, and include age-appropriate Bibles and church information. Worship services are conducted at nursing homes each month. A free hot meal is provided weekly at the church for low-income residents, and is accomplished in partnership with other local churches. Movie nights and taco nights are among fellowship-outreach opportunities, and technology is being utilized to extend the church’s teaching ministry. Annually the church also hands out bottled water and freeze pops at the park for the community’s Walk for Life.
“We pray for unsaved family and friends,” Pastor Ben concludes, “and for revival to begin in our hearts that is then loosed into the community. We want God to capture hearts among us—to save and claim what is his.”
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Free rummage sale at First Church of God in Van Wert, Ohio.