A year ago I had a vision… a dream… a dream that as a church we would step out of comfort zone and into our community with an act of pure, selfless service.. I was convinced we were ready for it.
We bumped our Youth Pastor’s hours from ½ time to ¾ time and gave him the task of developing a multi-generational, cross-cultural, selfless, service trip.
Multi-generational because we wanted families to be able to engage and participate together. We tried to be very clear that this was not going to be a youth trip – where the youth would go off to some country where they didn’t speak the language, to do some act of service that they had never done – and would never do – at home, encounter God powerfully only to have the buzz fade after a few weeks back at home. There are, I’ve been told good things in that model, but that was not what we were trying to do. We wanted to serve ‘the other’ whom God had brought to our doors. At first we thought this might mean traveling to a nearby town to serve the homeless, or others on the fringes. We began conversations with various ministries but each time the opportunity seemed to fizzle. Oddly enough the biggest problem we had was that most of the ministries were eager to serve us as opposed to using us.
We also wanted our experience to be cross-cultural. I thought it was important for people in our church to engage in service with people that weren’t anything like them. Reaching out to colleagues at work or friends at school or the family next door is important, but the light of Jesus really shines through when we joyfully, selflessly serve people who don’t look like us, act like us, talk like us …Jesus called them “the least”. They are all around us!
Personally, I believe that ‘the least’ represents different people for each of us. For some of us, ‘the least’ are seniors… for others ‘the least’ are children, or youth, or seniors, or people from another culture, or people from a different economic class, or people from a different part of town, or people with a different accent. I might love working with junior highs and shy away from working with business owners. In that case I don’t need to hear Christ’s call or rely on the spirit to work with young teens – I’m wired for it and enjoy it. Understand, there is one of those tension points here, I’m not suggesting that I have to be miserable to serve Christ, or that Christ will call us to do the thing we least want to do. What I am saying is that Christ is more clearly seen and most desperately depended upon when we step outside of our comfort zone and are forced to rely on Him.
Finally, we wanted to do something that held absolutely no benefit for us. That no one would be able to say, “I can see why you guys decided to do that.” It took a while… we made some false starts at the beginning but in the end we partnered with a local grocery story to host a free barbecue for area migrant workers…
I believe I see a spark