The congregation gathers during Friends and Family Day.
The congregation gathers during Friends and Family Day.

In an effort to reestablish connection that was lost among members during the covid pandemic, Living Hope church created two initiatives: an Acts of Kindness campaign and a Friends and Family Day. “We realized that coming back from covid, there had to be a new normal,” Harold Cleveland, Living Hope pastor, said.

“We as a congregation discussed what that new normal would be. We knew we didn’t want to go back to doing the same old.”

After much prayer, the congregation came up with an idea to get members actively involved—those attending in person and online.

The Acts of Kindness campaign, initially introduced as “Project 1,000,” was based on a simple question: How long would it take to accumulate 1,000 acts of kindness? These acts had to be intentional. Giving Bible studies, offering to pray with a neighbor, supporting someone’s mental health journey—these are just some examples.

The congregation brought the number down to 500, thinking the project would take too long to accomplish; however, they were not prepared for what God had in store. “It caught fire to the point where people were so excited for this nontraditional ministry that in three weeks we reached 500 contacts,” Cleveland said.

With this excitement, the congregation has a new goal of 100,000 contacts. Two years after its launch, the congregation has reached 54,000 so far.

Friends and Family Day earlier this year encouraged members to invite friends and family to church. Each visitor who came would receive a gift, and every member who invited at least five people would receive a gift. The two members who brought the largest number of guests would receive a family Bible; the top number would also receive a $25 gift card.

“We all have people we’ve been wanting to invite to church, but sometimes we need to be challenged to do so,” Cleveland observed. “This was just a fun way for us to work together to get people back to church.”

Danny Chan, Southern California Conference Los Angeles Metro Region director, was the guest speaker for Friends and Family Day. He delivered a message Cleveland believed was spiritual and appropriate for the audience—visitors especially. There were 100 people in attendance that Sabbath, about 60 of whom were visitors.

“People were touched by his message,” Cleveland shared. “He really ministered to visitors with a message designed for them, and the congregation was completely excited and engaged.”

“I was so impressed that this church, who is recovering from the pandemic as most churches are, is being so intentional about connecting with others who do not attend and to reach out to new people who could join the church,” Chan said.

Friends and Family Day and the Acts of Kindness campaign are both initiatives Cleveland hopes will continue to challenge members to an active spiritual and church life post pandemic.