I was looking up a website related to the sit-in at Richard Marles office and a Baptist minister, Rev Brent Lyons Lee, was involved, a guy who is into media and stuff. Then I noticed he wrote something about op-shops which I found interesting, as over the years Peceli and I been involved in helping in op-shops - we started two of them, one in Hopetoun, another in Whittington. Many of our friends have been or are volunteers. These days I still shop at them - a good one way down the other end of Boundary Road - Lifeline, and other local ones are Heaven Cent - Anglican, (where there's a notice reading 'Shop-lifters will be prayed for), one near the cemetery for Concern, and the usual Salvation Army op-shops. You can practically furnish a whole house using Geelong op-shops. But are they missional for the local church communities? Some would say yes.
An important component
to living out our Union's ‘Better Together’ motto is to create shared resources
and networks. In mid-August we brought together our Baptist church Op shop
managers for a lunch and conversation hosted by Baptcare. We have about a dozen
Op shops around the state and most were represented on the day. We shared
together what the benefits of having an Op Shop ministry were, along with some
of the frustrations.
All of the shops shared
the philosophy of ‘profit for purpose’ and were all ploughing surpluses
back in to sustaining some form of community ministry. The ‘Seaside Seconds’ shop in Anglesea (pictured) even has a program
set up for local community groups to apply for small grants. The “Mustard
Tree” in Lilydale shared some of their innovative ideas for “up-cycling” which
included finding a use for pesky mattress springs as the tip of garden stakes
for climbing plants!
Most op shops have a mix
of volunteers from the church and the local community. Some local “non-church” volunteers see the op shop as their primary
base for community and special ministry was required for this. We discussed the
notion of “alongsiders” which meant a relationship that was different to being
a friend and also different to being a social worker. The “alongsider”
relationship (as Mick Duncan points out in his new book of that title)
intentionally walks alongside those who walk alone or those who are
One of the greatest challenges was to get churches to see their op
shops as missional opportunities. Some ideas were brain stormed such as having a regular spot in
the church service for an update and telling good stories. The stories also
needed to let the congregation know that it can be a really fun ministry and
that the churches could host op shop fashion parades or “dress ups” for book week.
Another great idea was to lay down a challenge to see everyone in the church
participate in a “short term mission trip” to the op shop, which might even
mean volunteering for one day a year!
Op Shops are great way
to raise revenue for your ministry, but even more importantly they are a great
way to get to know your local community, and build relationships with people
who wouldn’t necessarily attend our churches on Sunday. If you are feeling
entrepreneurial and want to start an Op Shop venture for your church, there are
plenty of people in our Op Shop network who could help coach you through the
process. Please get in touch with our Mission Catalyst team to find out more.