Numbers 34:16-29 – The Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway: Making The Love of Jesus Seamless!

Posted: November 18, 2016 in 04-Numbers
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Numbers 34:16-29

Leaders to Divide the Land


This coming Tuesday, four days from today, our church will put on the biggest event of the year for our church. We call it the Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway. It requires a great deal of planning and quite of few leaders. The event involves multiple leaders with multiple teams, each with a specific function that contributes to the success of the whole event. In this event, we give away 500 turkeys and bags the canned and boxed for each of the families that pass through our doors to have a nice Thanksgiving meal in their own homes (two days later, on Thanksgiving Day). It sounds simple enough but it is a rather large undertaking.


These are the various teams and their functions for the event;


  1. Event Leader – This happens to be my wife, our church’s director of community outreach. She must pick a team of leaders for the all the following teams. She develops relationships with vendors and she also makes sure the church-wide body understands where we are at in preparation for the event. She must purchase all the bulk goods and turkeys for the event and ensure that they are delivered and staged prior to the Sunday before the event and ensure that all functional leaders have what they need for the event, have sufficient personnel to accomplish their team goals and requirements, and generally “manage the organized chaos” on the day of the event.
  2. Logistics Team – The leader of this team must ensure that all the chairs in the center two sections of the church are removed before the event and ten tables are put in their place along with chairs enough for eight people to sit at each table. They must ensure that the stantions that are used to control crowd flow in the atrium for registration are put in place. This team also ensures that all the foodstuff for the bags of fixings are all staged properly for the pre-event “packing party” where our church members work together on the Sunday afternoon before the event to populate the bags with the required canned and dry goods for each bag.
  3. Parking Team – As this is a well-known event in our community, our visitors come early – well before we open our doors at 8:00am. We have to have parking control because there will be at least 200-300 cars that will have to be parked in an organized fashion. We have to have a team leader for this and 2 to 3 assistants.
  4. Security Team – To ensure the safety of all people at the event (our guests and our volunteers), members of our Sunday morning security team provide security for the event. This requires a leader and two to three assistants at all times during the event. Sometimes, people can get testy when waiting in the long line to get inside our worship center. Sad to say but true.
  5. Registration Team – In order to control the flow of people through the event, to prevent one person or family from getting multiple Thanksgiving meals by assigning numbered wristbands, and to gather information from our guests so that we can send invitations to them to our church and become part of our fellowship, we have a registration team. This requires a team of 8-10 people rotating in and out of the registration table. The leader must keep it all flowing smoothly and under control.
  6. Hospitality Team – This team provides coffee to people while they wait in line and they provide our guests with coffee and snacks while they are sitting in the worship center awaiting the next step in the process. This requires 10-15 people to be working at any given time and requires 20-25 in total so that people can rotate in and out as their time allows. It is basically an all-hands on desk for our Sunday morning café team as well as any additional volunteers they can garner. It requires a leader to staff the event, to purchase snacks for our guests, and to ensure that coffee is always flowing.
  7. Worship Team – our Worship Pastor must ensure that he has sufficient musicians to perform throughout the event. The Sunday morning worship team rotates in and out so that one set of musicians don’t have to play throughout the 4-5 hour event. The Worship Pastor also ensures that the other elder/pastors of the church are there and have specified time slots to share the gospel with our guests as they are sitting in the sanctuary.
  8. Tech Team – This requires the tech team leader from our Sunday morning services to ensure that he has a team of people to execute the audio/visual and lighting systems of the sanctuary. They have to treat it like a Sunday morning. The leader must make sure he’s adequately staffed just like on a Sunday morning service. He must prepare the informational slides that will be displayed on the screens and ensure that any video messages are prepared in advance of the event.
  9. Prayer Team – As our guests are moved into the sanctuary, they sit and wait and are entertained and informaed by the hospitality team, worship team and tech team, they are then called in groups of 10-12 people to the prayer tables set up outside the sanctuary. At these tables, a team of 10-12 prayer warriors at a time (usually have 20-24 people rotating to the tables as prayer warriors), who sit and pray with each guest individually about whatever each person desires prayer for. It takes a leader with discernment to pick these prayer warriors because it is intensely draining to listen to the stories of despair and misfortune constantly and then try to effectively pray for that person individually. The leader must ensure too that these people rotate out of the tables for short periods of rest because of the emotional intensity.
  10. Coat Drive Team – For several weeks prior to the event, the church asks its people and the community to donate gently worn coats for us to giveaway to those who need them on the day of the event. The leader of this team must ensure that all donations points at the church and in the community are managed before the event. They must ensure that the coats are collected, organized by size, gender, and/or age and then hang them on hangers on mobile racks in what is normally our toddler room in the worship center. The leader of this team needs about 10-12 total volunteers who rotate in and out of the coat giveaway area.
  11. Food Bag Distribution Team – after the packing party on Sunday, our nursery room becomes a sea of 500 plus food bags. The team leader here must constantly have about 4-5 people rotating in and out of the nursery. These team members hand the bags of goods to our guests as they pass by the counter in the nursery. Behind them they have people supplying them with bags and moving the inventory forward as the “sea of bags” gets progressively smaller as the event progresses.
  12. Exit Team – The leader of this team must have a team of 5-10 people at all times (so a need of a total of 10-15 team members). The leader ensures that these “people persons” guide our guests out of the nursery (with their bag of canned and boxed goods) out the side doors of the worship center and to the refrigerated trailer outside where the family will pick up their turkey. The team member will then escort the family back to their cars. The leader must pick people who can effortlessly engage people that they do not know.
  13. Turkey Distribution Team – This is the team for real men! The leader of this team must pick strong guys who can deal with cold temperatures. This team is responsible for distributing average 11 lb. turkeys to our guests. The turkeys come to us in a refrigerated transfer truck trailer and are in palletized boxes containing the turkeys. These guys must be in or around the refrigerated truck all during the event. They must break open boxes and move them out of the way when empty. The pallets are always at the back of the refrigerated trailer so not only do you need guys at the back getting the turkeys out the boxes, you need guys to walk them forward to the opened doors of the trailer where another set of guys are handing the turkeys to our guests. This requires a team of 5-10 guys at all times (a need for a total 10-15 guys so that people can rotate in an out).


As you can see this is a huge event that requires a lot of people, quite a few leaders, and a lot of planning so that the event goes off seamlessly on event day. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving meals themselves. The planning takes longer than the execution. But without all the extensive planning, the execution for those 4-5 hours would be a disaster. It takes planning. It takes picking the right leaders. It takes those leaders making sure their function has what it needs. All this is done so that on the day of the event everyone knows what to do. When that’s down cold, we can concentrate on loving on our guests. That’s what we are there for – to show uncommon love to a world that needs to be shown uncommon love – the uncommon love of Jesus Christ.


That attention to detail and the preparation for the move into the Promised Land that is brought out in today’s passage made me think of our Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway when I read it. Let’s read it together now:


16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “These are the names of the men who are to assign the land for you as an inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun. 18 And appoint one leader from each tribe to help assign the land. 19 These are their names:


Caleb son of Jephunneh,


from the tribe of Judah;


20 Shemuel son of Ammihud,


from the tribe of Simeon;


21 Elidad son of Kislon,


from the tribe of Benjamin;


22 Bukki son of Jogli,


the leader from the tribe of Dan;


23 Hanniel son of Ephod,


the leader from the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph;


24 Kemuel son of Shiphtan,


the leader from the tribe of Ephraim son of Joseph;


25 Elizaphan son of Parnak,


the leader from the tribe of Zebulun;


26 Paltiel son of Azzan,


the leader from the tribe of Issachar;


27 Ahihud son of Shelomi,


the leader from the tribe of Asher;


28 Pedahel son of Ammihud,


the leader from the tribe of Naphtali.”


29 These are the men the Lord commanded to assign the inheritance to the Israelites in the land of Canaan.


In God’s plan for settling the land, He explained what to do, communicated this clearly to Moses, and assigned specific people to oversee the apportionment of the land. Sounds simple but think of the complexity of apportioning the lands among the tribes proportionally to the size of the tribe (taking in an understanding of topography and resources in the area), then apportioning the land within those apportionments to individual clans and family. Huge undertaking. No plan is complete until each job is defined and assigned and everyone understand their responsibilities. When we are assigned a project, we must determine what is to be done, break the project down into component parts, and put people in charge of each part. Basic leadership 101 taught right here in the Bible. What you don’t want is an unorganized mess which then becomes everyone’s focus rather than the purpose of what you are trying to accomplish.


As church leaders, we would do well to learn from this passage. We must make sure that the things that we do for our people and for our community are organized and executed in a manner that the love of Jesus is the primary focus on the day of the event, during the project, or whatever it is. We must do our part so that we can love on people and not worry about logistics. We want the things that we do to speak loudly of Christ. We want people to see excellence in us and not have to make exceptions for us because we are a church depending on volunteers. We want Jesus to be the focus not the details of the event. That requires us as leaders to plan, to execute, and work hard to make sure that all people see is Jesus on the day of the event or whatever we are doing as a church.


Amen and Amen.

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