An Epic Easter at CityLife!

photo-22

Last week was an incredible game changer for our church! CityLifers hit the streets everyday and gave away more than $21,000 to hundreds of people in our city. We’ll be posting a full recap on the church’s Facebook page, but here are some of my favorite moments.

We spent a morning at The Academy at Palumbo serving breakfast and giving gifts to the forty seven teachers and staff who work at the school. One of the teachers wrote us afterward and said she was “stunned” by the generosity of the church.

One team passed out 125 tokens at some of the major SEPTA stops in the city. People were shocked they were getting free tokens with no strings attached, even getting off their cell phone conversations to say thank you!

Several Life Groups visited six different firehouses in South Philly with dinner from Famous Dave’s. My group hung out eating and talking with the firemen for about thirty minutes until the alarm rang. They were on the truck and out the door in about ten seconds. So cool to serve an awesome group of guys who are also committed to saving lives!

On Thursday night our team handed out 75 back-packs and 65 bag lunches to the homeless at Love Park. We were also able to connect three folks with Project Home to help them find a way off the streets. NBC even showed up with a TV crew and covered the event on the news–right before Jimmy Fallon came on!

On Saturday teams blanketed Philly and went crazy with generosity. We went into several stores and paid for everyone who came in. Dunkin Donuts. Ritas water ice. Frozen yogurt. Grocery stores. It was nuts!

Our team met one man outside Dunkin Donuts and invited him inside. He was out of work on disability and on his way downtown to pawn his watch so he could give $50 to his sixteen year old son. We gave him the $50.00 and prayed with him. He started weeping in the parking lot, and came to church for the first time on Sunday morning!

While buying groceries for people in line at the grocery store, our teams served three people who were searching for jobs, and one who had lost her job just last week. The store clerks couldn’t believe what we were doing and began rooting for us, getting swept up in the excitement of giving. And it was amazing to see God work out every detail. Several volunteers felt prompted toward a woman who had a large number of items in her cart. When we finished paying for her bill, we had exactly one cent left on the gift cards!

All of the generosity and love flowed into an incredible Easter weekend at CityLife. Our Dream Team stretched like crazy and we ended up serving 613 people in three services, with dozens of people making a commitment to follow Jesus. Leah and I remember gathering three years ago with about 25 launch team members for an Easter service at Jason and Dana Corosanite’s house. I’m blown away by all that God has done!

When we moved to Philly our dream was to start a church that would do whatever it takes to reach THE ONE who is far from God. Last week I saw CityLifers get radical and take that commitment to a whole new level! Way to go team. The best is yet to come!

Easter at CityLife

easterscheduleweb

I’d like to invite you to a party this weekend! Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. Seriously, if there’s ever a reason to celebrate anything, this is it!

We’ll be hosting three identical worship services this weekend for the first time ever at CityLife Church. Everyone who attends will receive a coupon for a free t-shirt. There will also be a free family photo shoot with professional photographers after both services on Sunday. We’ve got some more fun and surprising “firsts” happening in all three services. But most of all, we’ll be presenting the good news in a clear, creative way, and celebrating the fact that about 2000 years ago, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God played his winning hand.

The message of the resurrection is that this world matters! That the injustices and pains of this present world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice, and love have won. -N.T. Wright

I hope you’re ready for a God-party this weekend, and that you don’t come alone!

A Generosity Buzz at HUP

HUP

Two of our Life Groups kicked off Servolution last night at The Hospital of Pennsylvania (HUP). CityLifers took gift baskets filled with snacks into the waiting rooms on the surgical floors to encourage people and pray with them. Then we setup in the cafeteria and started paying for everyone’s orders.

It didn’t take long for the word to spread, and once it did, the cafeteria was packed with patients, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. A girl who attends CityLife was actually on call when some co-workers on her floor started buzzing about a church that was paying for everyone’s food in the cafeteria. I loved her response. “I think that’s my church!”

The highlight of the night for me was meeting Maurice. He hadn’t had anything to eat for two days. He woke up Monday morning and prayed for God to send him some food. He was blown away by such a creative reminder that God knows exactly where he is and exactly what he needs! Out of hundreds of folks who came through the cafeteria, he was THE ONE.

It was fun watching people come through the line, find out their meal was paid for, and say, “Really? Why?!” No strings attached! God is the most generous being in the universe, and He has wired us to experience true joy when we give what we have away.

Thanks for being so radically generous CityLife! Your giving helped pay for 888 items, and put God’s heart on display for the whole hospital to see. I feel like this is the start of something special.

Let the Serving Begin!

servolution

Yesterday I shared a dream with our church. If I could press a button and instantaneously create a reputation for CityLife in our community, this is what I’d love to hear people saying.

That is the most generous group of people I’ve ever been around! I’m not sure I believe everything they teach, but I’m so glad they’re in our neighborhood.

Of course, we can’t just press a button. But we can choose to live in simple, radical ways, and unleash some generosity on Philly! That’s the heart behind Servolution.

Over the past two weeks, our church has given more than $19,000 in our Easter offering. This week we get to give it all away! We started on Thursday by sharing breakfast and gift bags with all of the teachers, custodians, counselors, and support staff at The Academy at Palumbo. Here’s an overview of what’s coming next.

  • Monday: Visiting Pennsylvania Hospital where we’ll buy dinner for everyone in the cafeteria and give snack baskets to people in the waiting rooms.
  • Tuesday: Gathering at Love Park to distribute 75 care kits to our homeless neighbors.
  • Wednesday: Throwing a dinner party for the staff of Children’s Choice, a foster care organization in South Philly.
  • Thursday: Giving away bus and subway tokens to SEPTA riders, and gift cards to taxi drivers.
  • Friday: Delivering dinner from Famous Dave’s to the firemen at six firehouses in South Philly.
  • Saturday: Going crazy with generosity! Buying groceries for random folks at the grocery store! Buying everyone’s order for three hours at Dunkin Donuts! Visiting laundromats with snacks and detergents and paying for people’s laundry! Throwing a baby shower for a single mom in North Philly!

Why? Because a generous lifestyle is the most enjoyable, thrilling way to live. And the heart and example of God is radically generous.

We’ll be sharing plenty of updates this week on this blog, Twitter, and Facebook. Would love to see your updates as well. Just make sure to include the hash tag #servephilly.

Let the serving begin!