While we generally do not use resources from our annual church budgets for outreach, we have developed highly impactful, project-based programs over the years. In some years, we have raised more money for projects outside our church than we raised for our own church budget. This is rare in a world where giving 10% of an annual church budget for outreach is considered significant. As importantly, our Project Based Outreach model requires hands-on participation from our church – we do not just write checks.
Some of our projects are one-day events while others such as KidsUganda are continuing ministries. Here are a few examples of projects in recent years:
KidsUganda began when the Community Church created a plan to help needy children at the Maranatha School & Orphanage in Mityana, Uganda. Over time, it became a stand-alone charity, raising $1.5 million and sending 75 people on short-term “Adventures in Service” mission trips.
This cultural exchange and fund-raiser brought together student-athletes from the inner-city Orr High School and Lake Forest High School for basketball, meals, and fellowship. NetGain also outfitted the Orr High School weight room with a circuit trainer and provided everything from travel expense assistance to uniforms and related equipment.
Center for Innovative Ministry
The Center took what the Community Church does well – innovation – and worked with struggling churches to help them learn to think innovatively to both solve problems and create opportunities. The Center also partnered with McCormick Theological Seminary in offering “The McCormick Prize for Innovation,” which recognized dynamic and innovative ministries throughout the United States.
During Covid, we developed a number of initiatives to address food insecurity in our area. Our efforts included a creative “Food Drive Parade,” raising over $50,000 for local pantries, delivering food twice to area distribution centers, and partnering with a local restaurant to deliver hot meals each week to 200 individuals.
Nepal Benefit Concert
When an earthquake devastated the Kathmandu region of Nepal – cancelling a scheduled Community Church “Adventures in Spirit” trip to Nepal, in less than a week we put together a free benefit concert that raised over $30,000. The money was given to four Nepalese organizations, including a small hospital in the Himalayas, destroyed by the earthquake, and a shelter for abused women.
We have partnered with this dynamic community house in south Waukegan since their founding nearly 10 years ago. Volunteers have provided muscle to paint walls and distribute meals, served on their board, supported their annual Christmas Giving Program, tutored, and we’ve provided annual financial resources for their work through a Florida-based foundation.
World Bicycle Relief
This Chicago-based international charity gives the gift of mobility to health care workers, micro-business owners, and students by providing them with robust “Buffalo Bikes.” Over the past 5 years, we’ve helped purchase over 200 bikes through creative fundraisers such as “Buffalo Baptisms” when our church celebrates the gift of new life in baptism by purchasing a bike that will effectively give someone new life through mobility.