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8 Reasons to Take a Sunday to Serve Outside the Church Walls

Ella ServingWe called ours We Love NWA because that’s how people refer to our community. Whatever you call it, we’re glad we took a weekend away from having a worship service in our theater to serve our neighbors. We’re not the first, by any means to have a weekend to “be” the church instead of “doing” church. Other churches have cancelled their regular weekend worship time to go serve in various capacities. But why?

As we geared up for our big weekend, contacted local charitable organizations, and signed up volunteers, we kept the conversation going among our leadership about why we were doing this to begin with. Ultimately, we decided the concept reflected the culture of our church very well, and would accomplish some big goals for us. Let me clarify first, however, the reasons we ruled out:

  • We will not do this simply to attract attention. Attention is valuable, but is never the big goal.
  • We will not do this to “get people to come to church.” It wasn’t about serving in hopes of the return favor of a visit.
  • We will not do this to “take a break” from worship. If this isn’t worship, nothing is.

Instead, taking a Sunday to serve outside the walls might be a good idea because…

  1. It’s what Jesus did and would do, if He were physically still among us. He would love and serve people in tangible ways.
  2. It’s a break for people who devote time “within the walls” to be free to go outside the walls, which is where our bigger focus lies.
  3. It’s an introduction to serving, and we heard repeatedly, “I’d like to do this more often, not just on this Sunday.” Bullseye!
  4. It gives us a chance to practice “with reach.” That is, we can serve alongside non-members and even non-believers, creating community so that people can belong, even before they believe.
  5. It’s a bonding time for the people serving together on a project.
  6. It’s a way to communicate that “giving” involves more than the offering plate. It also involves our time and talents.
  7. It blesses people around us, earning the church a bit of trust for the hearing of the gospel when the door opens.
  8. It’s fun. This wasn’t our primary motive, but it was certainly fun!

This was our first experience with this kind of project. All in all, 108 volunteers gave 371 hours to eight different community service projects. That thrills me, and it made a definite, visible impact on our community and helped us to build relationships with local agency leaders. Would we do it again? Absolutely! And we will, next year!


By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?


Social CRM Is Something the Church Shouldn’t Miss

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I’ve just written about a trend that the church absolutely cannot miss. We have a tendency to show up a decade late on some of the best tools available for reaching our communities, but we can’t miss social CRM. Here’s a brief excerpt:

The implications of CRM for the church are fairly obvious. We have people in our communities whom we’d like to reach – new movers, recent visitors, friends of members who come to our attention. But another, more recent development, has shifted our focus just a bit. The rise of social networking platforms and social media has allowed us to forge new kinds of relationships with new people whom we haven’t reached before. Social media has expanded our reach and influence beyond the boundaries of our communities and it’s provided access to the personal lives of people in a way never possible before.

These two concepts are currently colliding. In our present culture, there are those who still want to broadcast to the database via the CRM, and others who want to focus on more personal, authentic, permission-based communication via the social web. Somewhere in the middle, an important development is about to become one of the most important trends the business world has seen – the rise of the social CRM.

So to find out what in the world I’m talking about, go read Hey Church, Don’t Miss the Social CRM Wave via MediaSalt.

The Haiti Mission Team is Home

I just wanted to pass along to you the news that Bethel’s Haiti Mission Trip team just got home. I picked them up at the airport and listened for the fifteen minute drive home to their description of a very horrific scene where so many people are still suffering and dying. They did have the privilege of bumping into Sean Penn while they were there.

They’ll be sharing more with Bethel this coming Sunday night, writing an article for our church’s site, and I may even do a video interview with Justin Williams, our Youth Pastor who went on the trip, to post here for you.

Don’t forget to pray for Haiti and the devastated masses there – God loves and values every single one of them!

Jesus Is the Hand That Steadies Our Plate

I found this clip to be extremely moving. It’s a profound illustration of how Jesus gets into our mess…

Why Don’t Churches ‘Get’ Social Media?

Social media. What in the world is it? Well, think about it. “Social” has to do with people who converse, gather, and relate to each other. “Media” is any platform for spreading any message. Mass media is speaking to the masses through radio, television, etc. Print media is magazines, newspapers, and other printed periodicals. Social media, then, is promoting a message through people, and the phrase is typically used in reference to online media outlets.

I’m a firm believer that the rise of social media is a revolutionary moment for the church’s ministry. We’ll either embrace it (as we did print media and mass media) or we’ll begin to fade (as perhaps we are already doing). John Saddington runs a couple of great blogs and wrote a pertinent article related to why churches don’t “get” social media.

Before you read it, know that I don’t always get it either. I’ve learned a few tough lessons recently, and find it hard to keep up at times, but I’m determined to be a student of a movement that absolutely must be embraced and studied by thinkers and leaders in the kingdom today.