This past week I had the joy of attending a retreat for DCEs and parish ministers. Between times of worship, prayer, and meals, we DCEs shared TED talks. One, in particular, got me thinking. The talk focused on the variety of incredible missional ministries the 12 churches in their area did together.
These churches are all separate entities. While they are all LCMS, they have their own mission, vision, history, constitution, and way of living out their ministry. Yet, they came together and, remarkably, agreed to serve the community as one Church in 12 locations. And serve they have!They send home backpacks of food with children who would otherwise go without until they return to school. A center for unaccompanied minors has spawned from these churches working together, providing them with food, clothing, and other help. There is an all boys detention center where the churches host a voluntary Bible study every week, celebrate holidays, and love them like Jesus. Their area plays host to thousands of immigrants every week so they have set-up opportunities for them to learn English, read, write, and provide food and clothing while their immigration status is finalized (these are legal immigrants with family ties in America).
As the two presenters continued, I marveled at the level of organization that must go on to ensure these missions not only get off the ground but are sustained. By this point, my brain saw something sparkly and jumped to thinking of Jesus and His ministry.
Jesus wasn’t what you would call organized. Yes, as Lord, He knew where He needed to be and when, but His ministry of service to the people spawned in the moment. He didn’t wait until someone put up a sign-up sheet on the synagogue bulletin board to serve in a soup kitchen. Jesus didn’t wait for an invitation to serve the people. Instead, Christ served those He encountered on the way.
If we sit and read through the Gospels, Jesus was alway one the way somewhere and as He went, He served. Christ served as opportunities arose…feeding of the 5,000, healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving sins, giving the blind sight… These opportunities were anything but organized.
Ok, you could argue, that these were divine invitations from the Father so that He would be glorified and people would know Christ as His Son. But guess what…
God gives us these same divine invitations. These un/organized, on the way, borderline inconvenient, opportunities to glorify His Name through service to others.
We don’t have to wait for a sign-up sheet at on the church bulletin board. We don’t have to wait for someone else to take the lead. In fact, if all we do is wait then we will miss out on the opportunities God gives us every day.
What are you passionate about? If you could make a difference in the world, how would you do that? What would you do if you could make the world a better place a little bit each day or each week?
Dorcas in Acts 9, is described as, “always doing good and helping the poor,” v36. When she died, the people showed Peter, “the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made,” v39. Why did Dorcas start making the people clothing? It doesn’t mention her striving to spread the Gospel, yet the impact she had by simply caring for the people led them to seek out Peter after she died. Believing by faith that Peter could do something about the fact that this dear woman was dead.
What’s my point here? We don’t have to stand on a soap box for the Gospel to be preached or wait for an invitation from our church to love our community like Jesus does. Get a little un/organized. Find a need and fill it. Don’t expect anything in return. Invite your friends to join in. Here are few things you can use to brainstorm and figure out what you can do and what you are called to do in your community:
- Mentor or tutor in your local school once a week
- Bake cookies and bring them to first responders as a thank you
- Make baby hats for newborns in the hospital
- Bring a plastic bag to the park and start picking up trash
- Talk to a local sports league and ask if there are any players who need equipment/shoes
- Build handicap ramps in people’s homes
- Organize a baby shower for high school moms
- Talk to a local daycare about starting a FREE day care for high school parents so they can finish school (more on that in another post)
- Give away water at the park
- Prayer walk your neighborhood
- Consider hosting a backyard VBS
- Host a Bible study in your home and invite the neighborhood
- Put together birthday bags or care bags for a local organization like Kids in Distress or women’s shelter
- Find an after school program and buy snacks for the week
- Put together blessing bags to hand out to the homeless
- Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
- Visit a nursing home twice a month, just because
- Host a bike repair for the homeless
- Sign-up for meals on wheels
- Visit your local food pantry
- ASK your local government, school, church, police department, “What need do you see in our community? How can I help?”
If you think you can’t “do enough,” you’re right. Compared to the needs of others surrounding us, we could never do enough. But consider this…a little boy only had five small loaves of bread and two fish. When he surrendered it to God, over 5,000 people were fed.
What will you surrender to God? What un/organized invitation is He giving you today?
Lord, the needs of this world are overwhelming. In the face of so many opportunities to serve, I admit, I at times do nothing or I wait until someone else extends an invitation. But You extend me an invitation every day. Tune my heart to Yours, so that I may hear Your voice and action on your call to love those around me like Jesus, un/organized. Amen
What is God’s invitation to you? How do you or will you serve your community?