Time really fly’s, many years serving the Malls of Dayton. I remember going to the Dayton Mall when I first arrived and asked for permission to wrap presents during the holidays. When I received a positive answer, I took a deep breath and asked, “Would you mind if we came to the mall to give away donuts and coffee to encourage the early shoppers?” Her reply, “You’d do that for us?!”
Last week at the Fairfield Commons Mall the mall marketing manager and I were joking that we should pop party poppers to celebrate our years of serving.
Why the Mall?
Malls are now our town centers. Thousands of people go there to shop during the holidays. When we serve the people shopping a few things happen.
1. We gain an added credibility within our community…
Most malls won’t just have anyone serving. It’s risky. A miss step can cause harm to the reputation of the mall. So they vet people pretty closely. Therefore, when we are allowed to serve, a positive association within such a large community gathering place gives us huge credibility and great responsibility.
While in Scotland we were working toward gaining entry with a major mall. Inching ourselves forward along the path to acceptance was difficult. We had been working / talking with the management for years. Then one summer we hosted a team of teenagers. Sadly, one kid decided to write on a mall sign with a large magic marker. The cameras captured the crazy moment. The teen was then apprehended, questioned and escorted by the city police to our church building. I was not happy. The result of this act, we never gained access and our reputation within our community was damaged.
2. We create God space…
In Him we live and move and have our being. When we serve, we bring His presence with us. I actually believe we are atmosphere architects. We are so familiar with His presence that we often take Him for granted. Being positive, joyful, Spirit filled people creates God space more than we realize. God things happen as we serve. People notice.
3. We enable personal connection… When we give away donuts and coffee, or wrap presents for free we connect with people at a heart level. When we serve, or have a conversation, or pray with a person the connection can be both deeply personal and positive. Often the questions asked are: Why are you doing this? Why would a church wrap presents for free? Who are you? You don’t take money? You came to the mall at 5am today are you crazy?
It’s the personal connection that is so important. We often have just the right thing to say, or pray just the right prayer for someone who is downcast etc. Being out there also opens our hearts to God’s care and love for our community. I often say, you can’t care unless you are out there. Jesus seeing the masses was often moved by his compassionate nature. Positioning ourselves for personal connection is often all it takes to motivate us to encourage a heart, or to share the good news.
So, once again this year we will be Wrapping presents for Free, and will be the official greeters at Fairfield Commons Mall. I’d encourage you to bring God’s presence and influence as we serve together.
Black Friday Donuts Blitz… 6am Lower Sears.
Wrap i t Up!
December 12 – 23 at the Fairfield Commons Mall
Upper level by Elder Beerman
Weekdays: 12pm- 2pm & 6pm-9pm