Churches are known for the gathering of crowds. Most churches meet weekly if not more for services on Sunday, bible studies, and even community service projects. With state mandates going into effect, how does a church continue to function? How do they still connect with each other? With their community? Better yet, how do they serve people during these times?
We connected with Kelly Adkins from Grace Church to gain insight on how they are handling these uncharted waters and why they turned to Campaigns, Real Thread’s t-shirt fundraising platform, to give back to the community. Learn how they successfully raised over $5,000 fundraising with t-shirts and how they used the profit to spread joy.
Campaign Length: 14 Days
Number of Shirts sold: 363
In practical terms, it would be much easier to list the ways this has not affected us! It transformed almost every single way we engage our teams and serve our people overnight. Grace didn’t even livestream services before this, so we went from expecting to have our normal seven weekend services in three locations at noon on a Friday, to writing, producing, editing, and promoting an online experience that premiered at 10am that Sunday. We’ve re-written every ministry strategy from the ground up to serve people in any way we can.
In the truest sense, though, it hasn’t affected us. Grace is still who we are and will be. We have hope because of our faith, we still have the same mission, and we still live out the same House Rules that guide our church (https://discovergrace.com/about/). It just looks and feels very different in the everyday right now.
It’s the nature of the Church to gather, so it was a huge challenge from the start: how can we serve our people and our city without coming together physically? The answer was to continue to gather around the same purpose but in different ways — online content, communities, and service.
We host our online weekend experience, and hundreds of families watch this at the time of the premiere and participate in the live chat. We also have moved many classes and groups online, and we provide daily teaching, encouragement, and fun for the whole church through social media. We developed new strategies, too, like online meet-ups after the messages and 15-minute prayer and counseling calls.
We also immediately started calling every single person in our database — thousands and thousands of people — to check on and encourage them. We flung open the virtual doors and said “we’re here if you need us.”
One of the important ways Grace has gathered in this time is through service. We committed right away not only to help families in financial need, but also to serve our city. One of the ways we’ve done this is caring for health care workers. We’ve been regularly sending dinners and donuts (and soon we’ll be creating break room baskets) to ICUs, ERs, and support staff. When Real Thread launched campaigns, it seemed like a natural fit to help support that kind of initiative.
The money is already at work! It covers only a portion of what Grace has been privileged to do so far during this crisis — helping hurting families with groceries and gas, making sure people get their medicine, even repairing a car for a single mom. And of course, sending lots of hot food to health care workers, as mentioned above.
We’ve seen a ton of gratefulness from the ICU units — just thankfulness at being seen and cared for in a practical way during an anxious time. We serve one unit in particular that specializes in a last-chance level of life support; they send us updates on how many patients they’ve helped to save and discharge from care. So encouraging!
Good Is Ahead has become sort of a rallying cry for our church. It’s something our Senior Pastor, Mike Adkins, had been teaching us for about a year before this crisis started: because we have hope in God, good is always ahead for us, no matter what. He actually closes every service with it, and we’re actually in the process of trademarking this phrase as a ministry umbrella for us.
I think it resonates with everyone, honestly! Everyone wants to believe that good is ahead, and everyone wants to tell people that good is ahead. More than anything, we need hope right now.
We created a redirect from our website (discovergrace.com/good) to send people to the Real Thread campaign page. It gave people an easier way to remember how to get to the page, since they’re already familiar with our URL. We have a Wordpress site, and it’s super easy to create them with a free plugin called Quick Redirects.
We did actually print this original design at Real Thread last fall. We handed about three hundred of them out to volunteers who served on a big fall kickoff weekend for us. Having the shirt previously designed was a big help in getting it out there quickly, but I also think we might have sold more shirts if we launched them for the first time in the Campaign, because so many of our people already owned one!
Go with something positive. Spread joy and hope. If you can make it a phrase that’s already a part of your church culture — like a value statement or common teaching — you can build on a connection that’s already there. Also, clearly state and then show how you’re using the proceeds. We’ve followed up with photos and stories on social media of the money being put to great use, even before the Campaign ended.
If you’re looking for a way to raise money for your church, whether that’s for employees, families or other businesses in the community during this difficult time, check out Campaigns. It’s an easy, risk-free way for you to profit from selling t-shirts online, giving your customers and community a way to support you and/or your business amid the chaos of the Coronavirus. Get started by filling out the form or reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.