Last weekend we (Calvary) cancelled church. Well actually we just cancelled 6 worship gatherings in three locations. But that’s not really church, is it. You can’t come to church because church was never meant to be a place. Church is a people. Church is not an address. Church is a movement. So last weekend we didn’t really cancel church, we didn’t even cancel worship. We just asked the church (people) to go out and worship in the community — by serving.
There is this story that Jesus told once, about how whenever we give a cup of cold water to the thirsty or a meal to the hungry; whenever we visit the lonely or clothe the needy; could I say, whenever we rake the lawns of our neighbors, we are actually doing it for Jesus. So I guess if the point of worship is to hang out where Jesus is and show Jesus how much we love him, then we did that.
I know some of the Calvary folks couldn’t stand to miss the routine of going somewhere and standing to sing and sitting to listen — but I hope you didn’t miss Jesus while you were at church. :)
So what was the weekend like. Well God smiled with the weather. What a beautiful two days! And we had over 800 people serving on close to 100 projects. Some painted. Some visited a nursing home. Some raked. Some put in carpet. Some did carpentry projects. More raked. There was a fishing derby with 70+ kids and their parents in tow. We provided a spa experience for some very worthy single moms. We served the 2nd Mile, and Big Brother, Big Sister, and the Youth Service Bureau, and the House of Care and Strawberry Fields, and the list goes on and on.
Some quotes from the day…
From a local community leader, “You and your congregation (and now other congregations joining you) have always had my admiration because I think you live Christ’s teaching to serve others. Don’t we live in a wonderful community, full of the most incredible people?”
From the Faith Centre in Bellefonte, “What a great job everyone did! I can share what a true blessing you all were to the Faith Centre. Sometimes we don’t give our all when helping others. But, not true with all of you. I saw nothing but giving, and giving above and beyond.”
From a participant, “As the day comes to a close, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for all God has done through CityServe. I find myself wishing we already had that amphitheater at Harvest Fields where everyone could gather, sing some praise songs, share some testimonies and end the day with a time of prayer that God would continue to move in the hearts and lives of the people in the Centre Region….I guess I’m sort of not ready for the weekend to end.”
Here are a few final reflections…
1) When we serve those in need, we serve Jesus. So it might be easier to find Jesus when we are serving than it is while we are singing.
2) Nothing opens the doors, pulls down the defenses, and brings people to the same side like service.
3) Sometimes people can’t hear the good news until they see the good deeds.
4) It’s okay to cancel church because you can’t really cancel church.
5) Usually when we gather on the weekend, one person — me — preaches one sermon. Last weekend, 800 people were preaching and we had more seekers “in church” than we’ve had in years. Can we count the people we served in our attendance figures?
6) Next year I think we’ll see 10+ congregations and 1500 people.
7) Installing carpet is a bit harder than I remember.