The third annual “Faith In Action Sunday”—which challenges churches to literally close their doors on a Sunday morning and go out and serve their communities—will take place on Oct. 11 this year.
“Faith in Action” was developed by World Vision, Zondervan and Outreach, Inc. in 2007 to encourage churches, ministries and small groups to serve and meet practical needs in their local communities.
The “Faith in Action” movement is quickly becoming a viral online community of service-minded churches, collecting photos, videos and testimonies via RSS feeds from other popular sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A new web site—www.putyourfaithinaction.org – has been developed to support this growing movement.
“Faith in Action” also utilizes an online social network to connect churches with one another’s stories and successes. Participants can find more resources to equip their congregations for service at www.putyourfaithinaction.org/interact.
John Ortberg, best-selling author and pastor, is the national spokesman for “Faith in Action.” He calls the initiative “a dynamic program that galvanizes your congregation to be the hands and feet of Jesus in meeting real needs in your local community.”
Richard Stearns, president for World Vision, agrees. “‘Faith in Action’ is a powerful way to demonstrate the love of Jesus to our neighbors,” he says.
“Churches all over the U.S. – even churches that are financially stressed themselves – have made a genuine difference to their struggling and hurting neighbors with the ‘Faith in Action’ program,” says Eric Abel, vice president of marketing for Outreach, Inc.
Churches have organized food drives and helped the elderly and needy with home repairs. Some groups cleaned and landscaped public areas or private homes. Some maintained women’s or homeless shelters. And one church adopted a school and committed to performing regular clean-up and gardening tasks.
The “Faith in Action” program includes an awareness building campaign that educates the church on the power of “loving our neighbors.” The program also helps church members invite people in their community to join in serving. Small group materials are also available in Spanish.
“Pastors are raving about the results, saying it really made a difference in their communities. Their members can’t wait to do it again,” says Abel.
More than 800 churches have signed up for “Faith in Action Sunday” to date, although some have chosen alternative dates for the event. Some are joining together to do community-wide and even city-wide events.
The theme for this year’s “Faith in Action Sunday” is “Don’t go to church. Be the church,” says Abel.
“First Lady Michele Obama recently went on national television asking Americans to volunteer in their local communities. ‘Faith in Action’ is a great way to show the world that service is not just a one-time initiative, but for followers of Jesus Christ, is a way of life,” he says.
“I recommend ‘Faith in Action’ to any church that wants to mobilize for greater community outreach,” said John O’Neal, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Wash., one of the churches that participated in “Faith in Action Sunday” in 2008.
Eric Marsh, pastor of Long Beach Grace Brethren Church, in California, says, “’Faith in Action’ is a way to kick-start a church’s focus on external service. It’s not just the one-day thing.”
World Vision (www.worldvision.org) is the world’s largest Christian humanitarian relief organization. Outreach, Inc. (www.outreach.com) is a leading provider of outreach and evangelistic material for churches.