When a person asks their church what they can do to serve, what do most pastors or staff members tell them? A typical answer is “sure, we need ushers, we need greeters, or we need folks to watch the nursery on Sunday morning”. The person would respond something like, “That’s not what I mean – I’m talking about that sermon the pastor gave last weekend about serving the poor – I’m talking about that verse I read in Matthew today where Jesus talking about helping the least of these.” At a typical church, the response would be, “sure, we have a backpack drive in a couple months for underprivileged kids when they go back to school”, or “we’re doing a feeding for the homeless at Thanksgiving, and a party for some families at Christmas”.
Or the church would refer that person to a local ministry that does the kind of work they’re interested in – youth, homeless, elderly, etc. (By the way, on a side note, it’s interesting that those organizations are commonly known as “parachurch” ministries. Most were founded by churches – and churches had close connections to them, at least for a while. Now local ministries are just hoping that 2 or 3 local churches will provide a little bit of money and a few volunteers to keep them going. Where did the disconnection occur?)
Shouldn’t the church have answers for where that person can serve the community? Shouldn’t churches have a window providing a view to the needs OUTSIDE the church?
Again, I’m not accusing anyone of anything – I know the Christ-followers care! The heart and desire is there – from the pulpit and from the pews. But the means to make it happen isn’t. If the opportunities to serve the community were put in front of church members, they would respond. But the church can’t so the members can’t! As a result, churches settle for occasional events. Unfortunately, the needs don’t stop when the event ends! And that’s where our churches run the risk of just “checking the box”. TO BE CONTINUED…