Friday, March 21, 2014

Serve Sunday – Helping Hands across the Community


This is a project that I just coordinated for our church.  I'm sharing it here, in case you can use the model in your community.  It's a great way to get people of all ages involved in service.

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24 Church is partnering with the community in a new tradition called “Serve Sunday”.  Each quarter 24 Church will abandon the traditional practice of worshiping in church pews in order to spend the day serving others in schools, homes, community parks, and nonprofit agencies.

Volunteer Jessica Cron describes the day, “Our church went into the community in teams with 18 different service projects. Which included building fences at baseball parks, cleaned and painted schools, repair projects at homes, helped the nursing home. Our family went to the library to clean and organize books. All of us went with the love of Jesus to serve anyone in need and serve them with that love. It was amazing!  Who knows how many lives were touched by us doing these little things today!”   

Stories from the volunteers and from those served.

Robyn Miller, Vice Principal at Sycamore Middle School, said, “They came to school and painted a classroom that was in desperate need of a makeover. It is so refreshing to see people so freely giving of their time and talents. Whole families working together. What great examples. We so appreciate their help today.”

One of the teen girls being helped said, “It was really cool to have so many nice people come to help our family.  They helped us clean our rooms, paint three rooms and put together furniture for us.”

As the church family worked in neighbor’s homes to cut down trees, spread gravel, paint rooms, clean and organize; you could see hope light up on their faces.  A little bit of kindness was a powerful antidote to feeling overwhelmed and alone. Serve Sunday Director Ann Saylor said “It felt great to give people hope – the hope of people loving them, and the hope of a God who really cares about us.” She added, “It was also powerful to listen to how much people learned by serving.” 

Valarie Harris, a volunteer, said, “I had an amazing day today.  I went to serve the homeless & THEY served me.  I saw genuine smiles and heard laughter from people who have every reason to be miserable. I was reminded that God is everywhere & longs to comfort those who are hurting. I'm dumbfounded with gratitude & joy & never once thought about the 35 degree weather or the rain. My heart was warm & my eyes & ears were open to God at work among the lowliest of places!!”

Project Coordinator Jessica Sills said, “This morning, my eyes were opened to see just how many opportunities there are to serve others around me. I followed God's lead out of my comfort zone and got to visit with and pray for complete strangers who now remain on my heart. If we pray for opportunities, God will reveal them all around us.”

Project Coordinator Lisa McNeese summed up the hope for Serve Sunday perfectly, “I just pray that lives were touched today and that people were drawn closer to God through the simple acts of service and kindness.”

Serve Sunday relates directly to 24 Church’s mission to Love God, Love People, Live Gospel and Make Disciples.  “They say you win people TO what you win them WITH”, says Pastor Chris Royalty, “and the American church has won people to a Sunday morning church event.  Weekly worship is important - but there's more to being the church than this. We have chosen to try to do some things we see the church called to do in ways contrary to normal gatherings but living out these things are as much worship as gathering at a building. We don't want to just go to church, we want to be the church and living out the gospel is an important key to do this. Serve Sunday is a way for us to practice together what God is calling us to do every moment of our lives.”

You can see pictures of many of the projects at http://www.flickr.com/photos/24church/ or visit www.24church.com.

Special thanks to C&R Services, Rogers Group Inc., and Gardner Landscapes for generously donating supplies and equipment to make some of the projects possible.

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