Christian Services/Love In the Name of Christ, a nonprofit organization in Lansing, acts as a networking tool for churches within the Greater Lansing area. Its primary responsibility for its 28 years of existence has been to help churches develop ministries and link people with churches.
Currently, according to co-director of Christian Services Liz Youngquist, there are 400 churches total in the Lansing area, with 210 churches in the network, 90 of which are considered partners.
“Christian Services was created because churches wanted to help but didn’t know how, so we wanted to help churches get involved in ministry,” said Jodi Harkema, co-director of Christian Services.
Twenty-one in-house volunteers receive and document phone call requests to fulfill the needs of others. With their help, almost 14,000 of the 16,000 requests for assistance in 2008 were met through the church network. The ones that were not fulfilled were referred elsewhere. In 2008, Christian Services helped provide services to thousands of families within the area.
Within the church network, the churches are able to raise funds to deliver needed items to families. One of Christian Services’s biggest events is the Thanksgiving Day baskets, through which baskets full of food and goods are delivered to families in need.
This event is similar to a Christmas basket event they coordinate each year in partnership with the Salvation Army.
Christian Services provides training and materials for many of the workshops they have throughout their church networks as well. These workshops include budget classes and restoration programs, which help families get back on track and spend money only on the necessary items.
“A lot of people have been able to pay off large amounts of debt,” said Harkema.
Throughout these classes, participants earn a certain number of vouchers, and before Christmas, they are able to spend the vouchers at a Christmas store that is set up for them.
“They can buy gifts for kids without going over budget,” said Harkema. Recently, there have been a lot of new families calling upon Christian Services. There has been a recent trend of more two-parent families in need and more single men, as opposed to calls from their traditionally most common demographic, single moms. Participants need not be affiliated with any of the churches to benefit from the organization’s services.
“We serve anyone who qualifies based on needs and circumstances,” said Harkema. “The main thing is we are just trying to help churches fulfill their own biblical mandate.”