One of the things that I most love about our congregation is that it is full of people who are mission minded. Not just in big “let’s take a mission trip to Africa and build a well” but in day in and day out things that really do take a different level of commitment than is found in the once every couple of years big trip. Now, don’t get me wrong those trips are great and needed but if that’s all the church is doing I think it’s missing the boat a little.
Each year our church hosts a weekend for our youth where they stay at host homes for the weekend. The weekend if full of fun and games, Bible study and community impact. The adults also participate in the weekend, we just don’t get to stay at host homes. Over the years we’ve worked at the food bank, several women’s shelters and homes and a local Christian charity. A lot of these projects have someone or several someones in our church who regularly volunteers with them.
This year we took it up a notch.
This year we partnered with a church in an “under resourced” area of our city. You see we don’t have a church building, we meet in the Theatre Arts center downtown. We don’t really have a neighborhood. So we’ve asked this congregation if we can adopt their neighborhood and help them reach it. So we co-hosted a Jesus is my Super Hero day camp on Saturday morning. We had great music, crafts, bible story and memory verse and minute to win it games. On Saturday evening we had a block party.
The person who organized and led the day camp, under the supervision of one of our pastors, was a 20 year young man. He spent several months earlier this year in New York City interning with a ministry that does this all over the city. He did an amazing job.
Then on Sunday evening we had the most amazing worship time ever. All of this was done in the park right across the street from the church. It was so very cool seeing people come out of their homes and join us. You see, this isn’t a neighborhood where outdoor “concerts” happen. In fact, one concerned citizen who lives down the block called the police. This is a neighborhood that is very well patrolled and the policeman was able to reassure this person that all was well.
This neighborhood has been pretty well forgotten and dismissed by the vast majority of our city. Our city, which has by and large not been impacted by the recent recession. Our city that is full of farmers, ranchers, educators, medical workers, and most recently oil workers. People who care and yet our city is building several new parks, most near new housing developments. While this park, still doesn’t have playground equipment. The people of this neighborhood are struggling, not just financially but, more important. spiritually.
In the middle of this neighborhood right across the street from the park is a church whose pastor grew up the neighborhood and has chosen to stay because he loves the people. His church loves the people. God loves the people.
The most effective way for our congregation to reach the people of our city is to support the churches in these forgotten neighborhoods. And I don’t mean giving them money. I mean giving our time, talent and resources. Giving our lives in cooperation. Not just once, or once a year but throughout the year. Helping this small church be the go to place in the neighborhood where these people can continue to build real community.
As we left last night, I heard people from both congregations say they can’t wait until we do it again. Neither can my family, it was probably the most meaningful weekend we’ve had in a long, long time.
I’d love to hear how your family or church helps to impact your city.