give church voice in community
By Isaac Olivarez
(February 23, 2003)
Association of Resale and Thrift Shops estimates there
are more than 15,000 thrift stores across the United States.
Local and independently owned and operated thrift stores
make up 72 percent of the market.
Assembly of God in Tacoma, Wash. (Fulton Buntain, pastor)
became part of that market when its Women’s Ministries
department opened Life Center Thrift Store in September
2001. The store — which sells everything from clothing,
furniture and home décor to books, music and electronic
equipment — is located in a 3,000-square-foot storefront
building. The congregation supplies nearly 80 percent
of the inventory and also supplies the workforce. More
than 50 women volunteer four-hour shifts each month.
director of women’s ministries for Life Center A/G,
says first-year profits totaled nearly $30,000.
provided funds for us to disperse to multiple benevolence
ministry needs and community outreaches,” Oleson
says, noting every dollar earned by the store is allocated
back to the church, which operates a school — Life
Christian Academy — and two senior citizen facilities.
Oleson says the store is designed to provide a practical
outreach to the community while helping Life Center women
realize their skills and potential in ministry. “Our
women have a passion to make a difference in the community,”
Oleson says, “and their lives are being changed
because they are giving their service to the Lord.”
Thrift Store made such an impact in the community that
Women’s Ministries opened a second store last September
in another part of the city of 194,000. Oleson says this
is an example of women’s ability to take on a leadership
role in ministry. But, she says, there is more work to
be done. “It is the woman’s responsibility
to educate herself about leadership development,”
Oleson says. “There’s more potential in women
now than ever because they are in more management positions
across the board.”
Lillian Sparks, national Women’s Ministries director,
80 percent of the local church volunteer force is female;
a statistic she says solidifies women’s presence
in ministry. Sparks says Life Center Thrift Store is an
example of what women in ministry can accomplish.
years women believed the challenges of being a mother
were greater than their ability and availability for ministry,”
Sparks says. “Now women are believing that God works
even in impossible situations, whether they are working
women or stay-at-home moms.” Sparks says women are
at the threshold of an incredible awakening in the local
church for what God is going to accomplish through them.
training resources, including a new curriculum, are now
available to equip women leaders to develop ministries
tailored to the needs of their local church. “Women’s
Ministries is about women in ministry,” Sparks says.
“God has a place for every woman, whether it’s
in her home, community or local church.”
Ministries theme for 2003 is “Can You Believe It?”
Today, on National Women’s Ministries Day, churches
have the opportunity to honor women in the church and
encourage them to expand their outreaches.
nearly 250,000 women who say they’re active in ministry,
but we know we have 1.4 million women in the A/G,”
Sparks says. “My goal is that we would have 1 million
women who say, ‘I’ve found my place of ministry
in the church and I’m fulfilled because I am doing
God’s will.’ ”