We 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…
- It’s what Jesus did and would do, if He were physically still among us. He would love and serve people in tangible ways.
- 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.
- It’s an introduction to serving, and we heard repeatedly, “I’d like to do this more often, not just on this Sunday.” Bullseye!
- 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.
- It’s a bonding time for the people serving together on a project.
- It’s a way to communicate that “giving” involves more than the offering plate. It also involves our time and talents.
- It blesses people around us, earning the church a bit of trust for the hearing of the gospel when the door opens.
- 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!