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Nuts for Jesus - Issue #130

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Sweet Home United Methodist Church is a small membership church of about seventy members in Sweet Home, Oregon. The church may be small but it has a big impact in its community. Several years ago they began a free Friday evening meal for the homeless and others in need of a hot meal. Soon the ministry was serving nearly seventy-five people a week. In the years following they expanded, and now with the assistance of partner churches, the Sweet Home UMC kitchen serves meals twice a week with up to eighty people served at each meal.

How does a congregation with an average worship attendance of about thirty support such a large ministry? It all began with a gift of nuts. A member of the congregation donated 1,200 pounds of fresh green hazelnuts. Members of the church then dried, cracked, sorted, packaged, and sold the nuts.

Initially the proceeds from the nuts helped support some maintenance items in the church, including the kitchen renovations important for the meal ministry. Now the proceeds are used to support the feeding ministry, called "Manna," as well as other missions of the church.

In addition to the church members, community members who have been served by the church (those fed by "Manna" as well as some who attend the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups hosted by the church) have volunteered to help with the growing "Nuts for Jesus" project and have been drawn into the life of the church. The Sweet Home "Nuts for Jesus" describe themselves as people of irrepressible joy who serve those in need.

Questions for Discussion

  • Where are the places in your congregation that people are serving others with irrepressible joy?

  • How does your congregation encourage and equip people to use their gifts (both material and spiritual) to make a difference in your community?

  • How might the ministry of your local church grow if people began to see the abundance God has given the congregation?

Ken Sloane is Director of Stewardship at the Discipleship Ministries. He can be reached at [email protected] You can read more about "Nuts for Jesus" at www.nutsforjesus.com.

In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #130. © 2012 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.