Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone it's time to assess how our efforts went to extend the spirit of the holiday to those in need. Churches usually do one of two things - provide a community Thanksgiving dinner or give out care baskets with the necessary items for a family to have a Thanksgiving dinner at their home. Afterwards, we ask ourselves, "Well, how many did we hand out?" It is a sensible question but it's not the most important question. Arguably, the most important question is "What was the real impact?" If our aim went beyond seeing how many dinners we could serve or baskets we could hand out, it will take time to assess what really happened. If the numbers were our goal, then our work is pretty much done, just count 'em up.

I worked with Summit Church to put on an event with a different aim - forming relationships between families from very different life situations, the proverbial haves and have-nots. This is no small feat. We also gave away some baskets. In that sense, it was a traditional event. Because we invited those who were receiving baskets to help put them together, it was quite a different type of event. We had a dozen tables set up each with a mix of Summit families and families that had been invited. They shared a breakfast snack, a game, conversation, prayer requests, and putting baskets together. Everyone was then invited to the church service and most accepted the invitation. The event had a wonderfully warm, homey feel thanks in large measure to Tracy Beeson, the children's director at the church who organized the event.

Summit is no small church. Had the goal been to give away baskets, hundreds of baskets could have been given out. The goal was stronger relationships though, between individuals, families, and with God. There were 106 people at the event, roughly half of which were Summit families. Everyone made a connection and is being encouraged to pray for one another. Steps are being taken to follow-up and extend additional invitations to be involved with the church. Relationships take time and are harder to assess than numbers of people and turkeys. Relationships are what matter though. In time, we will have a much better idea of the real impact of this event but the stage is set for something powerful.

Allow me answer the initial question. We gave out 70 baskets in total. The have-nots gave out more than the haves. Everyone had a good time. God was honored and everyone was given the opportunity to see themselves as a giver. I'll keep you posted about the relationships.

Here's a few pictures: