Monday, April 21, 2014

Service With A Smile

I am writing this on the morning after Easter, my mind still swimming over the events of the weekend. Five services, hundreds in attendance and the impact of God’s Spirit touching and changing hearts has left me full of both hope and fatigue. One of the elements of the weekend that left an indelible mark on my soul was how many people gave significant time and energy to serve others. When you count all the people who constructed, set up, cleaned up, served tables, prayed, sang, played, worked tech, taught kids, changed poopy diapers, greeted, listened, shared their stories and did scores of other tasks I don’t even know about; well, when you think of all that work people did because they love God and love people, the impact is beyond words.
Somehow, this has taken me back to an old poem we used to put in church newsletters. It’s available in various forms on the internet these days and I’m unsure who originally wrote it. It goes like this…
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
You will notice that I said, “We USED to put in church newsletters.” Not only has the printed church newsletter gone the way of IBM Selectrics, but the reason we printed such little ditties — we couldn’t find enough people who would serve — is pretty much forgotten history at Stone Ridge Church. Therefore, I sit here on the morning after Easter reflecting on what happened to so radically change the culture in our church. It’s a story that started in the hearts of a few key people, then spread like wildfire.
It began when some of our leaders realized the joy they felt when they served real needs outside our church walls. One of the first places this happened was with what became known as our “Cars Ministry.” A few men thought it would be good to help young people learn the simple basics of car service, things like how to change the oil and check the battery. Before they knew it, the word spread that we had some people with mechanic skills who might help repair vehicles for those who couldn’t afford a repair shop. As they faithfully began to serve those needs, the number of people interested in serving with them grew rapidly, as did the needs they served. Before long another element got added: someone donated a car to the ministry, which they repaired and gave away to someone who couldn’t afford a car. As other cars were donated, some were repaired and re-gifted, while others were repaired and sold, and the income was used to purchase more parts to repair more cars. It’s a picture of a self-sustaining ministry.
Not long after the Cars Ministry took off, a group of our people went to the Dominican Republic and came home with a vision to serve international missions needs. Suddenly we had teams headed to that island nation 2 or 3 times a year. Our partnership there opened our eyes to other cross-cultural needs much closer to home. We now have active work on both sides of our border with Mexico. We even have a group of winter visitors from Canada who specifically attend Stone Ridge because they want to be a part of our work across the border in Mexico.
God’s ways are upside-down to the world’s ways. In the world, we have been taught to take care of ourselves, maybe giving a little of our excess away. Jesus taught us to give first, then God will generously provide our needs (Luke 6:38). This is especially true when it comes to needing people to serve.
For the next two weeks, we are going to discover some life-changing truth in the Bible about serving. The Bible begins the history of humans on this planet with a story about serving, then again shows serving at the end of all things. We will not only talk about this, but we will take out time to thank all those who serve through our various ministries. It will be fun and inspiring, so don’t miss it! Can’t join us? Catch the podcast!