Every church is charged with blessing people in their community and showing God’s love in practical and tangible ways. One way that our church, Mountain Coast Vineyard, does this is through our food shelf ministry.
Though our church plant is just 8 months old, this ministry is in its seventeenth year. The food shelf was started at the Anchorage Vineyard Church, which later combined with another church. The ministry continued following the merge and once we launched our plant, the food shelf coordinators asked if we could support the ministry. We had seen the fruit of it and said, “Of course!”
I’d love to share some practical details about how we run our food shelf for anyone thinking about how they can serve the poor in this way in their community.
Our food shelf is open one Saturday a month. A team of around twenty people, including children, serve in greeting, preparing food, stocking shelves, and shopping along with our guests.
As guests arrive, they are greeted by our welcome team and receive their number in line. While they wait for their turn to shop, we serve a hot breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and sausage along with coffee and juice. After eating breakfast, the guests are escorted from table to table to choose what food they would like. Guests receive a supply of food proportional to the size of their household.
We not only offer food, but prayer as well. Most of the time those utilizing our food shelf are receptive to our offer of prayer. This often leads to them having an encounter with the Holy Spirit. When those people leave, they have not only been fed but felt touched by God.
In order for our ministry to be effective, we have teamed up with other local resources. One way we receive food is through our local food bank. The food bank collects surplus food that would otherwise be disposed of from local grocery stores and wholesale providers. Then we purchase it at a low cost.
We also team up with the local post office canned food drive. Once a year, we provide volunteers to help collect and sort donated food and in turn, we receive some of the donations. We also have donation bins located in our church lobby with a list of items in high demand.
We advertise our food shelf ministry through the food bank’s list of providers and through other community organizations. We also post fliers on the community bulletin boards of low-income housing complexes.
We found that God brought together the opportunity for this ministry, the right people to serve alongside us, and resources to make it happen. Our church is located in the most densely populated neighborhood in the entire state of Alaska and we get to provide a valuable resource to our neighbors in need.
A pastor once told me that if you look at what God has provided for you within your congregation, you should have a pretty good idea of what he wants to build. You know you’re not going to grow an orchard of peach trees if he has given you apple seeds. Our church has been blessed to inherit this ministry and we are happy that it continues to flourish.
If you’re thinking about how you can remember the poor, look, listen, survey the scene, and get to know the people around you. Discover what they are passionate about and gifted at, see where God is providing opportunities, and then do all you can to set it up for success.
A Resource for Justice Ministry
Dan is the lead Pastor of Mountain Coast Vineyard in Anchorage, Alaska. Besides being the Family Pastor, Diana teaches elementary math and high school chemistry for a local homeschool network. They have two girls who are going into 5th and 7th grade. When they happen to find free time, Dan can be found catching wild Alaska salmon or snowboarding the Chugach Mountains. Diana likes to get lost in a good book.
The views expressed on this site or in this media are those of the speaker(s), author(s), or contributor(s), and do not necessarily represent the views of Vineyard USA or any of its Regions, Ministries or Initiatives. For more information, see the Vineyard USA disclaimer here.