When it comes to funding The Pax Center, the church’s community ministry center, State Street Community Church has a few important guidelines they try to follow. They want to fund the center with integrity. They don’t want to bombard the community with requests throughout the year.
That’s why #GivingTuesday made so much sense. #GivingTuesday is a national campaign that urges people to give to charities during the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Being a part of the effort allows State Street Community Church to focus their donor engagement on a single day—one when many people may have charitable giving already on their minds.
In 2016, the church raised more than $20,000 to support The Pax Center. The church started the community center in 2015 as a place where the community could experience a sense of shalom—the peace of God—where God is making whole all that’s broken in their lives. At The Pax Center, the church hosts two weekly community meals and invites the entire community to join them. They operate a food pantry that feeds between 1,100 and 1,200 families a month. They have a community garden with 50 plots cared for by families, individuals, and a summer kids club. They also have a resource center that provides computer access for people who may not normally have it.
Of course, all of those programs require funds to operate. The church provides some of the funds. Community and corporate sponsors help as well. But there’s still a gap between the other sources of income and the needs of the community.
That’s why the funds from #GivingTuesday are so critical to what State Street Community Church does through The Pax Center. And they are why it’s so important for the church to do whatever it takes to make the campaign effective.
Why Food Is so Important to State Street Community Church
Look through all the projects that The Pax Center does, and you’ll find a common denominator through many of them: Food.
Ask Nate Loucks why his church cares so deeply about issues surrounding hunger, and you’ll get at least three answers.
First, it’s theological. Much of Jesus’ interaction with people revolves around food. Jesus was often inviting people to eat with Him (which, he says, culminates in the Eucharist).
Second, it’s cultural. Food tends to be a central element to community-building. In our deeply divided culture, sharing meals together provides an important way for us to share our lives with one another.
But finally it’s also practical. The church sits in an economically depressed section of town. It’s a food desert: An area where it’s tough to buy affordable or fresh food. Providing food for the people of the neighborhood allows State Street Community Church to meet real needs. Pastor Nate says:
“We believe that the church has a calling to be good neighbors. Reclaiming the art of good neighboring is to hear our neighbors, to see our neighbors, and to feel for our neighbors. To do that, we had to see where the greatest need was. In our community, that need was food insecurity, having access to better foods, cost of foods—these kinds of things.”
The Mobile #GivingTuesday Advantage
As the church headed toward #GivingTuesday 2017, Pastor Nate wanted to see the church build on the $20,000 donated during the previous year’s campaign. The church had recently become a Pushpay customer, and church giving had grown since the church started using the app.
Making mobile a part of the #GivingTuesday campaign seemed like an obvious way to take it to the next level. The church put the campaign in its own special spot of the church app. They used mobile notifications to make sure everyone with the app kept up to date with the campaign goals and how to give. All their communications encouraged donors to give through the app.
The church blew past its goal of raising $25,000 on #GivingTuesday 2017 and took in close to $35,000. People from multiple states pitched in to help The Pax Center on #GivingTuesday.
The Pax Center can operate for 150 days on the funds the church raised. The donations will provide for 100 community meals and eight weeks of programming for the children’s gardening program.
“The app was central in making that vision a reality,” says Pastor Nate.