The challenge of being a church is to take care of our own folk, but not get so self absorbed that we forget about our role as part of a larger work of God in the larger community. It's that part of the Lord's Prayer I often stumble over in speech, yet more so in practice-- "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Then the challenge of a church, even one really serious about trying to express it's faith and belief in sharing in the world, is to not get carried away with activity for the sake of activity. It's a tightrope walk, though typically we may not even try to climb the ladder much less walk the narrow way! I like the following experiment for the honesty and the attempt (after all isn't Christianity supposed to be a personal experiment in the real life setting of a community?). What do you think?
You'll find the following info on page 6 of the February-March 2009 "Visions" newsletter
GOD’S Mission, OUR Community, OUR Calling
Randy Shepley email@example.com
FBC Tucker is like many other churches. We mean to love the way Jesus loves, to truly befriend and serve persons outside of our buildings, but we get distracted. I get distracted. We lose our focus, and somehow, we begin to think and act like the church is about us. We can think the church is about classes, programs, groups, and ministries that meet our needs. We even start to think the important things are adopting budgets, holding services, hiring staff, and maintaining programs. Churches would never say that caring for the business within the church is more important than loving people outside our walls, but oftentimes, we act like it.
Our church is rediscovering the foundational truth of being the church: we are not here for ourselves. We exist to do God’s mission in the world. We exist to love the people of our community toward Jesus.
Saturday, November 1, at FBC Tucker was a watershed day for us. The purpose of the day was simple: to invest as many members and attenders of our church in loving service to our community as possible. I admit, this idea of a day of service is not a new concept. I even "borrowed" the name of our day: Mission Possible. The hopes for our Mission Possible day were simple: (1) lovingly serve persons in our community with the love of Jesus, (2) have children, youth, adults, and older adults serve alongside one another, and (3) fall in love with our community.
So, what did we accomplish?
1. Two small groups of FBC Tucker volunteers gave out 205 gift cards for five dollars of free gasoline at two different gas stations. When people asked us why we were giving away free gas, we simply said, "We believe God wants us to care about the people in our community when times are tough, and this is a small way we can care."
2. A group of volunteers went to a group home for developmentally disabled adults and built a fire exit for the home, painted rooms, and completely cleaned up the yard.
3. Another group wrote seventy-five cards to persons in a local low-income nursing home. These cards were actually made by members of our adult special education Sunday School class.
4. A group set up in the church parking lot offering free car maintenance checks to passing drivers.
5. A local apartment complex allowed a group of our volunteers to throw an outdoor party for the entire complex. We were able to provide hot dogs, a bounce ride, and multiple games for the children and teens of this complex to enjoy. Furthermore, the children from our church came and played as well. New friendships began and the party was a huge success.
6. During the apartment complex party, which was held at an apartment complex where English is not the predominant language, our mission team leader led a group to each apartment and helped many of the residents change the batteries in their smoke alarms.
7. Persons representing fourteen different nationalities were served as a part of the Mission Possible day.
8. Finally, the varsity football team from Tucker High School (pardon me, the 2008 AAAA State Champion Tucker High School football team) came to our fellowship hall, and we had the privilege of preparing, serving, and cleaning up after their pre-game meal.
These are some of the acts of service that happened on our Mission Possible day. The best news from the day, however, is that the people of our church began to understand that our community is our calling. We exist to love our community with the full embrace and friendship of Jesus. My hope is that we will never again see what goes on inside our church walls as our primary focus.
Randy Shepley is blessed to pastor the people of FBC Tucker, which is three miles from the subdivision where he grew up. He has been married to his wife, Alice, for twelve years and is the father of James, Samuel, and Elizabeth.