By LAURA NIELSEN
WOODSTOCK, Ga. — The Factory, a church in Woodstock, has plans to influence the community and the world through the upcoming holiday season.
Christmas trees with twinkling lights, angel trees to provide gifts for those in need, Christmas parties, and Christmas Eve services are all very common among churches in the United States. These occur once Thanksgiving has passed, to welcome in the Christmas season. However, The Factory church does not want to limit its reach to only the members of the church and the community around them, but to the people of the world.
Pastor Keith Norman and church members Chuck Ingram, Sandy Ingram, and Tom Hill will be traveling to Tanzania Dec. 1-9, for the opening of the second Factory well to provide clean water. It is Norman’s dream to fund a well every year in Tanzania to provide drinkable water to thousands of people who do not have access. This symbolizes the ultimate gift that the church wants to give to the people of Atlanta, all the way to Africa: the Living Water.
“People literally die,” said Norman. “Malaria, dirty water … they might have water but it’s dirty, so they literally die. When God put it in my spirit to build wells, [I knew it was] because it will draw people and we needed to have the Gospel preached at the wells. So, people get liquid water and Living Water.”
December will end as busily as it began. Instead of a typical party and countdown to midnight on Dec. 31, the church will be holding a service and baptizing those who have given their life to Christ afterward.
“On Dec. 31, we are having church here,” said Shelley Davis, administrator of The Factory. “We are having a New Year’s Eve service that starts at 10 p.m. and we are doing baptisms. We will ring in the New Year baptizing people. I already have one person signed up!”
The Factory holds a monthly meeting called Inspire, where people of the community and of the church eat, pray, fellowship and worship together. For the Inspire that is being held in November, a Thanksgiving twist will be added.
“Previous Inspire meetings that we’ve done are really for our church family to get to know each other better,” said Terri Hill, a leader of the compassion team at The Factory. “But, the November Inspire … we are opening up Inspire to both our church members and to those less fortunate to give them a full Thanksgiving dinner. We don’t want to only give them a meal, but welcome them into our family.”
Turkey, stuffing, green beans, and dressing is expected when it comes to Thanksgiving. However, the church has invited the residents of extended stay motels to Inspire. Their mission is to serve them and also provide them with a friendship.
“We’ve done several outreaches to the extended stay motels that are in our general area,” said Hill. “So, when we think of people in our community, we immediately think of the residents of the extended stay. We have RSVPs from approximately 30-40 people, probably about 20 of them signed up and said they needed a ride. So, our church members will pick them up and bring them home. We didn’t want anyone to not be able to come because of transportation issues.”
The Factory ushered in the holiday season Oct. 31 with Harvest Night in the parking lot of the church.. The event included games for the children such as bounce houses, an “eye ball” toss, basketball throw contest, and alternative bowling. Each child won candy for each game played and had a plethora of candy to take home. If candy was not enough, the children were offered cotton candy to increase their sugar high.
The adults enjoyed the opportunity to win homemade cakes or pies by participating in the cake walk. Each cake walk ticket was sold for $1 and the cake walk participants had a one in six chance to win a homemade cake. If the cake walkers did not want to take the chance of losing, they could buy six tickets for $6 and automatically win a cake or pie of their choice.
Pranks were also involved during the duration of Harvest Night. For $5, attendees could secretly sign up someone to throw them in “jail” for 10 minutes. The jail was made out of orange plastic, wooden poles, and four plastic chairs. A jail keeper stood outside the gate to make sure the prisoners could not escape. Many wives threw their husbands in jail and vice versa, parents put their kids in jail, and all proceeds went to benefit the church’s upcoming mission trip to Tanzania.
Two grills were cooking at a rapid pace, producing hamburgers and hot dogs for the attendees of Harvest Night. Drinks and chips were available to accompany the meat and tables were set up near the food distribution table for a place to sit.
“We had roughly 300-400 people roll through,” said Davis. “The biggest thing was the families that came back on Sunday because they had gotten candy here on Halloween and one of them got saved.”
The Factory’s Motto
The Holiday season offers an excess of opportunities for churches all over the country to reach out to those in need. However, The Factory takes its giving one step further. The church’s motto is “The Other Six Days.” This motto drives the leaders and members of the church to help those in need, not only on Sunday morning, but during the other six days of the week.
The Factory takes the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:19-20, very seriously. The verses state: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
To the members and leaders of the church, every day of the week is an opportunity to share Christ with the people around them, serve them the way Jesus served when He was on earth, and further the heavenly kingdom.