Neighborhood Thrift Store, Fresno, CA*
This month we’ve been visiting churches which, even in their names, indicate that they’re serving their communities and neighborhoods. We thought it might be fun to look at another kind of outreach that might be overlooked -- shopping. To conclude Neighborhood/Community Church Month, here’s my list of six reasons churches sell used stuff, from least to most important.
6) To provide inexpensive goods: While we were living on the road in 2016, we went to a lot of thrift stores (and a couple church rummage sales, too). When we settled down again (having gotten after getting rid of most of our furniture), we knew where to find what we needed. And really, how much difference does it make if that coffee table was purchased new or used?
5) To provide employment or meaningful activity: “Active seniors” who have time and energy to volunteer are an invaluable resource in most churches. Thrift stores and rummage sales need a lot of workers. Thrift stores, which sometimes provide entry-level retail jobs and job training, often employ people who might otherwise have difficulty finding meaningful work.
4) To simplify people’s lives and better use limited resources: Do you have anything in your home that you wouldn’t miss if it were gone? Might it be more useful or more appreciated by somebody else? In addition, who knows what amazing thing you’ll find if you dig a little?
3) To raise money: Churches and other faith-based organizations generally rely on donations to do their work. Rummage sales might benefit youth activities, missions and missionaries, service projects within the community, and other special needs.
2) To build community: Whether it’s among the people preparing for the sale or between the church and the people buying at the sale, community building is a natural result. Talking while sorting through stuff (“what IS this thing?”) or between customer and cashier (“I remember having something like this a long time ago, and I loved it.”) builds relationships, leading to opportunities for those who know and love Jesus to talk about Him.
1) To demonstrate God’s love and faithfulness to His glory: Just by opening the doors of a thrift store or rummage sale, a church welcomes the community. People who otherwise have no interest in a church will find their way inside. Conversations can lead to friendships. Needs can be met. People can meet Jesus when they expected to find old junk.