Q&A with Greg Russinger

Q&A with Greg Russinger


Greg Russinger Father to Ashtin and Liam, husband to Michele, Russinger is co-founder and board president of Laundry Love, pastor at Alongsiders Church in Portland, Oregon, an author, speaker, musician, consultant, film lover and staunch soccer player / fan. Follow him at @gregrussinger @laundrylove

Q: How did you invite or gather people to become involved with Laundry Love , a nonprofit that washes the bedding and clothes of low / no income families? 01

For the first few years, there was only one Laundry Love location. Then, over time, an organic interest began to rise about Laundry Love and more locations were added as people began to learn what we were doing. I think Laundry Love helped answer the question, “What can we do in our neighborhood, city and town?” So we coached and guided people and groups in the early days of the movement.

More churches got wind of Laundry Love, then neighbors learned about it and wanted to start one, and then non-faith groups and diverse faith groups. We connected with so many groups who saw this as a simple human care initiative that comes alongside the low- to no-income families and individuals in their area. Laundry Love is about people joining together. It’s about dignity. People said yes.

Q: What do you think contributed to the success of Laundry Love? 02

In short, its simplicity. It was an open source idea. And you have nothing but time in a laundromat, and what we’ve learned is people still enjoy the face-to-face interaction, the connection and the shared

Laundry Love believes in meaningful collaboration, and so we encourage every location to seek interagency alliances and partnerships. Whether it be job placement agencies, housing placement agencies, food or clothing options, tutoring children or providing basic medical options, there are so many different ways community and city alliances help in a holistic way.

Laundry Love can be contextualized for every neighborhood and city. Laundry Love is not a project or an event, it’s a relational commitment. Laundry Love is about returning. Returning is a practice of love. God in his grace returns to us, his creation, time and time again. The Samaritan story is a great example of this. In bringing the man to an inn, the next day the Samaritan gives the inn keeper some money and says “Look after him” and “when I return.” Human care requires consistency. Laundry Love fosters this awareness in those who serve so that they soon realize this not something “we” do for “them,” but this is an “us” thing. It’s an expression of living with. It’s solidarity. It’s mutuality. It’s love.

We tell people to enter laundromats not only to make a difference, but so those you serve make you different.

Q: In what way should the church try to empower their members to start or lead ministries like this? Do you think churches should get involved with lay-led ministries or is it better for them to support the ministry in another way? 03

I think one practice is to listen well. Don’t make assumptions for your community. You have to be out in the community and listen to what’s really happening. Listening is absolutely essential for there to be any sort of healthy and longstanding engagement. There can be a tendency for a church to assume what a neighborhood, a city or even a family needs. If the good news is the good news, then we have to be a listening people who ask really good questions. What is good news to this family, this city, this person? Start there (as Jesus did in Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:51 and Luke 18:41).

I don’t think we can fully experience what the kingdom life is about if we’re not engaging. Yes, the Church should empower, get involved and support. All of it.

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