Trunk Outreach Drives Church to Do More

April 1, 2020

How easy is it to help your community in the crisis? Just pop your trunk! North of Dallas in Coppell, Texas, Pastor Tim Holland and his wife, Abigail, were praying for ways to join the virus relief efforts without making anyone sick. Suddenly, the idea came to them. A drive-up, drive-out approach that's helping to put food on the table in dozens of homes across the area.

"We knew when this crisis began [that] God was preparing our hearts for how we're going to serve our local church and... community. And I found myself," he told me, "kind of in a quandry." Like a lot of pastors, he had two competing interests: keeping their staff, volunteers, and church family safe but also following the direction of President Trump and local leaders. "I thought, how can we do both things at the same time?" Pastor Tim remembered. Suddenly, God brought the story of Nehemiah to his heart. Like the Old Testament prophet, today's churches have to defend the attack of an invisible enemy -- but, Tim insisted, "we have to keep building the wall. We have to keep meeting the need."

That's when the thought came to him. What if they just opened their trunks? "The way it works is really simple," he explained. "Anyone who wants to donate to our local church food bank, they can load up the stuff that they want to donate, put it in their trunk, and then drive up to the church. They don't [have to park]. They just pull up in the front of our church right by the doors... and they don't even have to get out of their car. In fact, we tell them to please not get out of their car for their safety and for our team safety. And all they have to do is just open the trunk."

A member of the staff or volunteer comes out, gets the box, and takes it inside to be sanitized, cleaned, and organized. "Then, the same process actually happens for someone who needs to receive food. They just go to our website and click on a form there that lets us know the size of their family [and exactly what they need], and one of our team members calls them and gives them a specific time that they can come and pick up their items. We prepare a box specifically customized for them." After all, he joked, "you don't want to be giving diapers away to a single man who's by himself with no kids in the house."

They drive up to the church, park, and open the trunk. It gets filled without any interaction that puts people at risk. "And yet," Pastor Tim says enthusiastically, "we can meet the need in a time that is so difficult for so many already." Life Church also started making individual calls to thousands of people in their database -- locals who'd either visited the church or regulars who were members -- to ask them if they could help in any way. "You have to repurpose your staff," Pastor Tim urged. You have to adjust your thinking. And when you do, as the town of Coppell will tell you, the results are life-changing!