Tonight I served as the “community host” for Family Night Out with No Reservations at one of our local restaurants.  Families were invited to eat dinner together, and the idea was to get parents and kids talking about drug and alcohol issues during dinner.  Kids under-12 ate free, and each family received a tote bag with lots of goodies, plus information on drug and alcohol abuse.

The idea for the evening came from research which shows that kids in families who eat dinner together regularly are less likely to drink,  smoke, or use drugs.

Our local Community Services and RASAP (Regional Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention) organizations sponsored the program in 10 area restaurants.  Overflow crowds packed all the locations as families with preschoolers-to-teens came to eat together.

My point in telling this story is this: when you meet a need, people do respond.  Several people thanked us for providing the tote bags and creating the event.  As we were leaving, one man came up to our group and thanked us. “Twenty years ago I was doing drugs and stealing to pay for my habit,” he said.  “This is a good thing you’re doing here tonight.” And then he went back to his table and sat down with his wife and kids.

Churches, too, can help in other programs like Family Night Out.  Earlier today I asked the president of our local Chamber of Commerce what our church could do to help during these hard economic times. Unemployment in Danville hit 14% and in our county it’s 12%.  The Chamber president emailed me later with an offer to bring several helping agencies together with us to work on meeting needs in our community.

I remember attending a seminar in about 1986 at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral.  Schuller spoke at one of the sessions.  His advice to the pastors was “find a need and fill it.”  That still works today.