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Bleacher Outreach Posted 1.16.2014

What could God do through us if we would just think outside the box a little more often?  What if we spent some time listening to our community that we might hear its needs?  I came across a story this week that really stirred my heart to think a little more creatively about how to impact our world with Jesus.

 

Football players from SeeWorth Academy in Oklahoma City, an alternative charter school that serves inner-city at-risk children, were used to empty stands.  But last September the bleachers were so full people had to be turned away.

 

SeeWorth was playing the Lincoln Christian Bulldogs, a school run by Tulsa’s Church on the Move.  To prepare for post-game activities, the coach from Lincoln asked SeeWorth’s personnel about expected crowd attendance.  The answer?  Ten to15 people.

 

At a church staff meeting soon after, someone asked, “what if we reached out to our fan base and filled the visitor stands?”

 

Coming from a church with an average weekend attendance of more than 9,000, with a 53-13 record over five years and a state title Lincoln had fans to spare.  Church leadership appealed to the congregation.

 

“We told them if they already support Lincoln or another school, that’s great,” says Ethan Vanse, the campus pastor for the church’s Glenpool location. “But if you’re not cheering for somebody, come out and cheer for SeeWorth.”

 

On game night, the 3,200 capacity stands were bursting in a playoff-style atmosphere.  Spectators lined the sides cheering while SeeWorth ran through a banner to enter the filed.  Professional banners hung from the visitor’s side, and poster boards through the bleachers displayed names and numbers of individual players who church members had “adopted” for the evening.  Teenage boys who normally had no one in attendance could hear fans calling their names.

“It was a special night for those kids,” says Vanse, even though SeeWorth lost.  “And for us, we were reminded how much life is more about giving than receiving.”

 

On the bus ride home, a SeeWorth student, who had been working through legal trouble and an arrest, summed up the impact in a conversation with his coach.

“Coach, that was the best night of my life.”

 

Showing up at a game.  Making some signs.  A church made a difference just by loaning its fans to the underdog team.  Now, I don’t think that any of our local high schools are in need of any extra fans – so that’s were some creative and innovative thinking is going to have to be done.  What are our local needs?  There’s always the inner city, which is not all that far away.  There are many ways to make an impact in the lives of those around us.  We have to listen.  We have to open our eyes.  We have to seek God and follow Him wherever He leads.

 

Let’s take the pulse of our community and then do something to make a difference.  There are many forms of outreach today – let’s get busy for God.


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