Canadian Hills Church of the Nazarene, Yukon, OK
A Conversation with Pastor Chad Penner about “LiveOut” Sundays
Describe a “LiveOut Sunday.”
On months with five Sunday’s, we shut the sanctuary doors, gather earlier than normal for a continental breakfast, then disperse into our community to #liveout our faith in tangible ways. We find projects that include all ages and most of our projects require us to get our hands dirty.
Our efforts wrap up around lunchtime. We encourage the team to eat together and then leave a generous tip. We want to overcome the reputation of Christians not being extravagant in their generosity.
Why do you believe service to the community should be a priority for the local church?
The church in America has become an institution, generally one for itself. Yet, we were intended to be a movement. It is time for the church to reconsider who we are and return to our mission to serve others.
If we really believe Jesus is who he said he was, then we too must do the kinds of things Jesus did. We must “take on the very nature of a servant”.
As General Superintendent emeritus J.K. Warrick once said the best way for the church to thrive is to give our way out of challenges. Simply, practice generosity!
What are some positive ways this ministry has affected your neighbors and congregation?
We have mowed the lawns of those who are disabled, cut and drug limbs after a major ice storm, picked up trash on city streets, created play dates in city parks, painted a public-school playground with our friends from Mustang Nazarene and even painted a house for someone we didn’t know.
It has positively impacted our people by providing a sense of camaraderie like on a mission trip. For our teens it provides a sense of pride in their church. They aren’t just going to church. They see their church living out their faith.
I have personally benefited from Liveout Sundays. They have provided an opportunity for me to have a break, beside vacation and minister’s & mates retreat, to be in my community but not have to prepare a message. This adjustment in my rhythm has been life giving.
What is one of your most memorable “LiveOut Sunday” experiences?
A widow lived a couple houses down from one of our families. Her husband had died years earlier and her kids didn’t visit often. The paint on her house was 90% gone. We asked if we could paint her home for free. When we met with her to pick paint colors, she was told her job was ending and she would be reassigned.
One of our families prepped the house leading up to the day, then a dozen or more of our people converged on the house. By late afternoon it went from the worst looking house on the block to one with vibrant color to welcome her home each day.
Unfortunately, the week we painted her home she lost her job. But the church’s care for her brought hope during a challenging situation.
It also symbolizes hope for me and our kids’ future in God’s church. For weeks after the project, I’d pick up my son Ethan from practice and he’d ask to drive by the house we painted. He sees how our faith lived out can transform a life.
What piece of advice would you give a pastor and church who is considering Sunday community service events as a part of their ministry strategy?
Start in the areas where your church members live. Our initial projects were ideas from members whose friends needed help.
Ask city leaders what community needs your church could help meet.
Find ways to include every age group in your church.
Celebrate together every time people give themselves away in effort to welcome Heaven to Earth.Preach and teach “God is FOR us and desires to be at work IN us and THRU us”.