Of course, this isn't anything new. I've written about this before (for example these three posts off the top of my head). But this is the first time I've actually had a group mobilized ready for action and enough external encouragement to overcome my own insecurities in serving.
Yet this won't be easy. There are cultural, religious, and basic life-events that have to be overcome. It will take time and planning. It will take money and investment. It will take more than a flash-in-the-pan idea from me. But here is what my wife and I, with help from the Holy Spirit, have come up with (I'll let you know tomorrow how this discussion goes tonight; it should be fun!):
- My wife and I desire to step up in leadership in our church in this area, i.e. be point-persons for outreach ministry.
- Open up a "community house" for after-school programs, life-skills training, and to be a safe-zone in a rough neighborhood.
- Travel abroad for a short-term missions trip. Our plan A was a cushy long-weekend to Central America. When we didn't hear back, we considered that opportunity closed. Plan B looks like a week in Haiti. Wow, talk about a leap of faith!
But like I said, there are still obstacles. Things that need to be overcome:
- Religiosity: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) Does that mean that all other religion is full of fault? About a year ago, I was sharing some of these thoughts with a brother and his response was, "I know the Bible says that true religion is looking after orphans and widows and whatever, but..."
- Numbers: This point was raised in yesterday's sermon and I don't disagree with it. To maintain consistency in service, we need the numbers to support it. But I'm also of the mindset of "build it, and they will come." I think we have the numbers right now, but too many people don't know what to do with the God-given passions on their hearts.
- Calendar: It is easy to just add another event on the church calendar. In fact, this is what stood in our way when we first started Crazy Love. So it is important to us that this doesn't become just another event, just another church activity. This is a ministry. It is optional.
- Mission: The latest Christian buzzword is "mission minded" when talking about service and outreach. But when you think of missions, you usually think of people in some country far away preaching the Gospel. What we're doing is not going to take away from "making disciples of all nations." In fact, I think it will enhance it, giving us a new forum and a new audience.
- Politics: I hesitate putting this one up here, but it is a reality. You mention community outreach and someone is bound to think "social justice". Yeah, I guess you could call it that, but that term has become too politically charged. I'm not doing this for any political reason. I strongly believe this is what the Bible calls us to do.