Giant Easter Egg Hunt!

sara shultz invitation design

What do you get when you mix 15,000 Easter Eggs, over 100 volunteers, clowns, huge blow up bouncy castles, hundreds of hotdogs, drinks, face painting, game zone, helium balloons and many, many kidz and parents?…A Giant Community Easter Egg Hunt that's what!...happening Saturday, April 23rd at Delco Park 11am…

This event began 8 years ago when I first arrived in Dayton...we booked a smaller park, Indian Riffle, and were overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up, so we moved to Delco Park…even bigger crowds...a few years ago Easter was early, March...windy, rainy all the way up to the day of the event...I thought about canceling the hunt the night before. I went to sleep. During the night I had a vivid dream where I saw cars lining up. In part of the dream I yelled to Scott, as he was running to the cars to tell people we cancelled, 'Don’t Cancel!' I woke up. We didn't cancel the hunt and had a good time…

Below our track record:
  • Year 1-2 beautiful warm weather
  • Year 3 a swamp
  • Year 4 snow on the field, we developed a new workout exercise, snow kick. most of us couldn't walk the next day. we had to shuffle to kick the snow off the area, just to see the eggs.
  • Year 5 ice storm and the Easter Egg Drive through
  • Year 6 rainy but it cleared up for the day until the last
  • Year 7 windy, no, really windy, kids flying in the air blowing into the lake, tents flying through the air

  • Year 8 gonna be a great day!

What's in the bag? Kindness to go.

Kindness to go

What's in the bag?

I purchase the bags and the sparkle filler from American Paper and Plastics West Chester OH nice paper lined bags various colors. Sparkle filler that we place in the bag gives the bag some eye popping color, and buzz...we've discovered that people like to dig past the sparkle filler to see what items of interest are in the bag.

1 package of Grandmas Cookies
1 bag of peanuts
2 granola bars
2 rolls of lifesaver peppermints
1 peanut butter crackers
a sprinkling of peppermint round candy
1 box of Kleenex tissues optional.
1 pack of Cracker Jacks

1 bag of potato chips
a sprinkle of mixed candy
sparkle filler
1 connect card attached to the bag and 2 connect cards in the bag on top
1 instruction sheet for people doing the outreach.

Kindness to Go! 2nd Saturday of Kindness

This weekend was a Kindness To Go! weekend and 2nd Saturday of Kindness weekend...We chose the 'give them the bag' outreach for both.

On Saturday four teams headed out into the community in Beavercreek, Kettering, Dayton, and Centerville. Each team received 30+ bags to give to shop keepers in the area. The outreach was scheduled from 10am to 12pm. Interestingly, there were several new people who came along. 

The stories were pretty amazing. One lady, 'The Vineyard. I've heard about you.' When asked, 'What have you heard?' She replied, 'You're that church who cares for our community and always seems to be doing good things.'

One of the highlights during the training instruction time (10 to 15 min) was the story from Greg and Julie. 

Julie is a child care manager for a large child care group. A few years ago one of our teams visited her center and delivered a bag, just to say 'we care', and 'thanks for being in our community'. A year and a half later Julie and her husband were making some life decisions and decided to go back to church. The decision was 10th on the list of 10. They discussed were to go and she mentioned, 'Let's go to the bag church.' They visited, sat in the back. to ensure a quick escape, and began to attend. Both encountered Jesus, were baptized and Greg is now on staff. Amazing.

Kindness to Go!
It's always fun to watch people as they realize it's a KTG weekend...Big smiles, some people usually new, pausing to read the instruction sheet then smile and grab a bag. Those in the know usually grab their KTG item on the way in to the service to ensure they are locked and loaded for the outreach.
Here's the info how we develop this outreach. I think 1/3 of the people will participate this is an average. So if you have a 500 member church. Maybe 150 bags.

Behind the scenes:6 to 10 hrs
Team: orders the items from Sam's Club online
Team: drives to Sam's picks up items
Team: Unload items and prepares for packing

Teens: Set up tables, packs 500 bags, place bags in safe secure room. 30 teens x 30 minutes. We share the value of outreach through encouraging teens to participate in pre-outreach and 2nd Saturday of Kindness.
Team: Goes through bags, fills any light bags, puts iridescent film into bag and places two connect cards in bag.
Team: prints out Instruction sheet and has them photo copied enough for every bag
Team: Place bags on our Kindness To Go! cart and on tables for each of the 3 services

Church on Weekend: grabs bags and goes out into the community to share God's love on the weekend or through the week.

Our Instruction sheet.
Kindness to Go! Ok, How’s does it work?
It’s simple:

Step one: Grab a bag
Step two: Transport the bag to your favorite restaurant, after or before the meal hand the bag to the person serving. Say, ‘This is a small gift for you and your team.’
key… tip big and smile.

Step one: Grab a bag
Step two: Take it with you the next time you go grocery shopping, put the bag at the end of your shopping for the person checking.
Step one: Grab a couple of bags
Step two: Take the bags to your local police station, fire station, emergency room or post office. Say, ‘Just thinking about you this time of year.’

When asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Reply, ‘Just showing you God’s love in a practical way.'

Be creative...choose your location, smile and have some fun!

If you participated and have a great story to tell. Please reply to post.

Why Kindness?

"Kindness gives birth to kindness."
Author:Sophocles (447 BC)

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
Author:Winston Churchill

"I've learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel
Author: Maya Angelou 

Why Kindness?

Biblical kindness: believers are called to be and to act as Jesus would toward the people within their sphere of influence. steve bowen

Kindness, by definition, is a deliberate act to bring a person near to God.
(Nelson’s Bible Dictionary)

Planed acts of kindness are more than just doing something nice for people. The acts of kindness are intentional acts that demonstrate the grace, generosity and mercy of God toward an individual or toward a community in a practical way.

An encouraging impression of grace is clearly presented by the activity of kindness when the act of kindness is genuinely reflected through our attitudes and through our words.
steve bowen

Jesus our example...

Jesus was the most friendly, open-hearted person on the planet. People wanted to be in his presence. There was something genuinely real that was attractive. I can't imagine anyone being attracted by a weird, ethereal, blue eyed Jesus.
He was grounded. He was different. He actually actively cared for people. He was a person full of compassion, mercy and grace. He was emotionally moved to action. He cared. When people were hungry, He fed them. When people were sick, he healed them. When people were downcast, he encouraged them.

His plan was to empower his disciples to do the same.

The religious leaders of the day didn't understand his open-heartedness expressed through his action. Instead of drawing near, they became closed, and hard-hearted focusing upon the law, the traditions of men instead of being caring people extending grace and mercy.

Jesus was invited to parties. He went to dinners with tax collectors. He allowed questionable people to be in his sphere of influence. He didn't flinch when prostitutes expressed their gratefulness for his forgiveness. 

He was kind, and refreshingly different than the other religious leaders of the day, and He acted and spoke as one who had true authority.

Yet, the religious leaders of the day didn't understand, were blinded to his mission and branded him as 'a friend of sinners', a 'glutton and a wine drinker'.

His short list of kindness found in the book of John...

His first miracle, water to wine…
Remember? He was at a party…they ran out of wine, the host was in trouble, what did Jesus do? He served, meeting their need, by giving away the best wine. This first simple, practical, need meeting action is described as how he first 'revealed his glory.'

Does this mean serving people somehow reveals the very glory of God? Yes.

Feeding the 5,000 X deux
The people were tired and hungry. He fed them and began to demonstrate, establish and teach His disciples the principles of caring, sharing, and generosity.

He healed all who came to Him…
He demonstrated the kindness and love of God by healing all who came to him. He went around 'doing good'…and…'healing all who were sick or oppressed'

His last act of service before the cross…
He washed the disciple’s feet, leaving an example...encouraging them to serve as He had served…

His last act of service post cross, before his ascension?
Think about it. He had just risen from the dead. He had conquered death and hell, through his death on the cross and his resurrection. He had ensured salvation for all who would believe in him. He had been honored by the Father as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He had received all power and authority. 

So, what does he choose to do for his disciples to reflect his love and care for them?
He chooses to cook and feed the disciples a fish breakfast on a beach. Amazing!

A short read of the gospels reveals He continually declared and demonstrated his life mission… 

The Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
Jesus Mark 10:45

Why kindness?

We live in a culture where our words alone no longer make an impact. Our culture is shouting, show us. Be the Christ(little c) you represent. If you say you follow him, then be him... in your attitudes, in your words and by your actions.

Kindness as a lifestyle is a first step toward redefining Jesus to your world.
steve bowen

Imagine what it would look like if every believer in your city chose to express His kindness toward the people within their sphere of influence, to intentionally seek to help, to serve, to care, to support others actively for just one week or even one day

Perhaps, the people we love and serve would want to discover for themselves why we have a passion for living. Perhaps our caring attitudes, actions and words would blow past their apathy and indifference. 

Perhaps they would want to meet this Jesus who encourages His friends to be Him in action. Perhaps they too would want to join His band of faithful followers and seek to actively and radically change their world.

 "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
John 20:21 NIV

Power of your Story.

What happens when you are participating in an Servant Evangelism project or you meet someone and you discover the person you have just served or met is interested in Jesus or exploring faith on a deeper level? How far do you go? When do you end the conversation?

Simple answer. You go as far as the person allows you to go. You end whey the person you are talking to ends the conversation.

Tennis Anyone?

Connecting the good news to people in our sphere of influence is very much like a tennis match. You have just served and hit the ball into their court. 

Many times they will hit the ball back into your court with questions. If you are serving them they may ask, Why are you doing this? What kind of church would wash a car, (give a gift bag, hand me a coke) for free? Etc. 

Our response is important. Smiling, the ‘why’ question is usually answered by the reply, ‘We are showing you God’s love in a practical way.” The ‘what kind’ question can be answered by ‘The kind of church that washes cars for free.’

Often It's Serve, Volley

A lady, pulled in for a car wash. Greeting her with a smile, and handing here a small packet with 3 pieces of Joe Bazooka and a connection card, saying ‘Hi! I’m Steve, here is some bubble gum you can chew while we wash your car.’ 

She replied, ‘What’s the deal? You guys gave me a coke at a stoplight. You came to my door with a free light bulb. Now you are washing my car for free??? What’z up? 

Hitting the ball back. I mentioned ‘what’z up’ is that Jesus is in love with you and we are attempting to show you His love in a practical way. 

Her positive yet puzzled look, que’d me to hit the ball back saying, ‘You ought to check us out sometime.’ 

Her pause, and then a cold response given by her eyes and body language hit the ball back to me as a blocking shot. 

It was obvious she was interested, but the mention of Church was a turn off. At this point I knew I needed to changed my position and stepped back and returned a soft volley by relplying, ‘Have a great day, and thanks for letting us wash your car.’

I then moved on to the next car.


A whole different response. During this match. I was able to pray for the lady whose husband had just had a stroke. It was one of those special moments in time. I was able to tell her about God's love for her and her husband. She informed me she was a lapsed Episcopalian. I was also able to point out our church phone number on the connect card and give her my name. The lady was most grateful. I waved as she drove off with tears in her eyes.

Sometimes I am able to move up to the next level and tell my story. Years ago I  developed my story in written form as a further connection point.

(just a note: my story is always changing, what God has done and is doing in my life, the people I've talked to and my life experience as a believer often can relate to certain situations. I don't always share my "come to Jesus" story.)

Story Your Story Can Make A Difference...(see Bill Hybels Just Walk Across The Room)

The Bible Is His-Story.

Here are several examples:

A woman at a well

Note: her story created interest, wonder and intrigue. After Jesus stayed a few days. They not longer just believed because of her story. They heard for themselves. This is the goal. That people would hear Jesus for themselves and believe. Story is the spark that causes people to ponder, wonder and desire to investigate for themselves.

John 4:28-30
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" They came out of the town and made their way toward him.  NIV

John 4:39-42
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." NIV

A blind man

John 9:15
Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, "and I washed, and now I see." NIV 

This guy was pressed by the hostile questions so he shared his story and finally responded... 'do you want to become his disciple do you?.'

Peter, John, and Paul


Life experience is what they shared.

Acts 4:20

For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." NIV 

Their opponents, stated, 'These people have been with Jesus.'

1 John 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, 
we have heard
we have seen with our eyes
we have looked at  
our hands have touched 


we proclaim 
concerning the Word of life. 

The life appeared;  

we have seen it and testify to it
we proclaim to you 
the eternal life, 
was with the Father 
has appeared to us

proclaim to you 
we have seen 
and heard
so that 
you also
may have fellowship with us. 
our fellowship  
is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. NIV

Acts 26:28-29
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" Paul replied, "Short time or long-I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains." NIV

Paul didn't get into political posturing, or theological debates, he told his story. 

Tell your story it is relevant.

Telling what you have seen, heard and experienced has amazing power in this generation.

How do you develop your personal story? Follow these simple steps. Write as you go. Think about the language. Think about your experience.

Describe your life before Christ. I was lonely, angry, hurt, unfeeling, guilty, rebellious, a drug user, etc.

What circumstance or situation enabled you to consider becoming a Christian? Was is a crisis, an invitation?, a relationship with another person?, a response to a believing friend?, you attended a church?  or were you just curious?

What brought you to the point of commitment? Describe the process and the moment you asked Jesus to come into your life. We are discovering many people simply pray, ‘Well Lord. Here I am.”

Describe how you have changed since you became a believer. I was angry now I have peace. I was a thief now I don't steal.

Write your thoughts in a concise manner so you can remember how to share your story with another person. Usually when I teach on the topic I encourage the people present to share their story with one another within 1 to 3 minutes. After the sharing time I ask, ‘How many of you were touched by what you heard?’ and ‘How many of you were encouraged by what you shared?’ In almost every instance, people respond in the affirmative.

I’ve discovered that many people are interested in reading or hearing my story. I cannot ever remember a time when my story of my journey of faith was not fitting to the situation.(remember my story is updated by my experience and my journey of faith)

 Here is my past to present story as a sample.

From Death To Life

Hi! I’m Steve. I recently returned to the USA after living 18 years in Scotland. I now live and work in Dayton, Ohio and have an exciting job at The Vineyard a pretty good church. Below is some of my story.

Who Am I?
I grew up in small town USA. My father was the town doctor and I was always known as Doc Bowen’s son. As a result of my small size and various hidden family problems I grew up with massive insecurity and a deep sense of rejection. I struggled to find my identity even though I attended the best schools, and had everything money could offer. I was empty inside. I was looking for something.

Flower Power, Drugs and Rock and Roll!
Moving from the 60’s to the 70’s was a mega transition for my generation. I flowed with the crowd seeking happiness in the hippie culture and all that went with it, in a small town sort of way.

Bad News! Uncle Sam Knocked On My Door!!
Many of the people I knew were drafted and ended up in Vietnam. Some returned messed up physically and emotionally. My number was up! Drafted! I knew it was a matter of days before I would be in Vietnam. To escape this possibility I chose to join the US Navy. A few months later I received my orders. I was sent to Pensacola for 4 years. I was a happy man!

Burn Out!
However, I continued in the drug, drink and party scene. I was still seeking inner peace and my identity. I then met a guy named Tim. He was a real Christian. He lived out what he talked about. He had something I did not have.  I talked to Tim often when stoned or just when I wanted to talk. He told me about Jesus and how Jesus could give me a new life. To be honest I didn’t think it was a very good deal at the time, besides I was having too much fun.

Take Me Home Country Road.
As I continued in drug and alcohol abuse I began to find it very difficult to maintain rational thinking and most of my relationships were a mess. Life became one long blur.
I figured I’d go home for a break. However, I got the break I wasn’t looking for.

The Real End!
I attended a party and ended up overdosed, physically, & emotionally strung out. I was messed up.

Remember Tim?
At this time I remembered what Tim had told me about Jesus. He said if I’d call on the  name of Jesus I would be saved. At that moment I had a strong impression that God was saying, ‘Steve, this is your last chance.’ I broke. I then cried from the depths of my being, ‘God Help Me!’

At that moment I sensed a presence I had not felt before. Somehow, I knew everything would be all right.

Two days later I met a man who told me how I could connect with God through Jesus Christ. I prayed a simple prayer that went something like, ‘Jesus I ask you to forgive me. I give you my life.’

At that moment I sensed something like a large weight being removed from my life.  I somehow knew I had found the reason for my existence on this good ole planet.  I finally knew who I was, I knew where I came from, and more importantly I knew where I was going.

It works.

For over 30 years I have known that there is a Big God out there who loves me and cares for my life. I’d encourage you to think about your life. Jesus really can make a difference.
Thanks for reading!

Often when I’ve hit the ball and had a positive response I ask, ‘Would you like to read the story of my life. Amazingly, more often than not they say, ‘Yes.’

Take it from me developing your story is a good way to gently share your faith with another. You never know when you’re going to play in the game or when you'll be able to share your story with someone.