LPA brings churches together to serve communities

By September 2, 2009

USA (MNN) — Spats among denominations usually portray the
Body of Christ as being divided. The Luis Palau Evangelical Association is
introducing a way not only to unite the body but also to share the Good News.

"So often the church is divided, and unbelievers see a
divided church," said Kevin Palau, Vice President of the LPA.
"Service is one great way to bring the body of Christ together."

Along with bringing believers together, service opens doors
to share the Gospel.

"The Gospel is always Word and deed," Palau says.
"We're finding that the entry point and a way to soften people's hearts
toward the Gospel are simple acts of love and kindness."

The LPA's Season of Service is festival evangelism with a
focus on repeatable, sustainable and culturally-relevant outreach
opportunities. After a city determines its most critical needs, churches work
with governmental and corporate leaders to mobilize volunteers.

"By incorporating service into our festivals,"
says Palau, "we really view it as a key way to help believers see that
we need to love people and build relationships with people, and through that, look for opportunities to clearly share the life-changing message
of Jesus Christ."

Palau adds that a city doesn't have to host an LPA festival to
have the same results in their own backyard.

"If even a handful of churches can agree together to
approach their city leaders to say 'How can we serve you?' that can open up so
many doors," he stated. "It can meet needs; it can demonstrate the
love of Christ."

You can learn more about the LPA model of festival
evangelism by clicking here. Palau believes that relationships initiated
through service projects can lead to deeper friendships.

"You sort of have to view it as a slow and steady
process," Palau says. "We challenge believers to purposefully go to your
un-churched family and friends and neighbors, and ask them to come serve with
us. Then it really comes down to friendship or lifestyle evangelism.

"While you're sitting there weeding or shoveling bark
dust for a couple of hours, be praying for opportunities to just build a
relationship and potentially the opportunity to start talking about it and asking
deeper questions."

Believers in Portland, Oregon, were recently recognized by
Reader's Digest and USA Today for the first Season of Service. In 2008, around
550 churches, 68 nonprofit organizations, and local businesses were mobilized
to serve throughout the greater Portland/Vancouver area.

Approximately 27,000
volunteers undertook 300 service projects, and the 2009 SOS is nearing its end,
running from May 1 through October 31.

In Portland, volunteers cleaned up public school grounds and
mentored school dropouts.

"The schools are such a source of need," said

Projects also included helping the homeless and providing
food for the hungry. Season of Service projects are also currently taking place
in Central Arkansas.  

On October 24 and 25, a Luis Palau CityFest will celebrate
all that was accomplished through the projects in Central Arkansas. Events at
CityFest will include performances by TobyMac, Newsboys and Seventh Day

To find out how you can be involved in either the Portland or Little
Rock SOS, click here.


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