A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post called “The Next Step.” In that post, I talked about how important it is for us to talk about service and to encourage one another to serve others. But, I wondered out loud what it would look like – and what it would mean for the church – if we actually took the next step and left to serve others directly from our meeting together.
This is what I called “the next step” – the step away from concept and toward action. The step away from talking about discipleship and service toward actually discipling and serving others. I wrote:
Imagine, weâ€™re sitting together as the church (either around tables or in a circle), and someone expresses a struggle with sharing the gospel with a neighbor. We encourage the person and pray for him or her. Then â€“ the next step â€“ someone offers to go with that brother or sister (perhaps at that very moment) to share the gospel with the neighbor. Or, perhaps someone else offers to take the struggling brother or sister along on a trip to the food pantry when the gospel is often shared.
There are so many possibilities, but it means taking the next step â€“ the step away from concept and toward action.
Well, last Sunday, we started taking that step.
During the month of November, out teaching/discussions on Sundays with the church have focused on the great commandment and the great commission. We’ve primarily exhorted and challenged one another to think about how we can take the community that we share in Christ out to others. We’ve talked about taking our “shared life in Christ” to those who are also in Christ but do not share community with others, and we’ve talked about taking our community to those who are not believers.
Last Sunday, Rodney was planning to lead our teaching/discussion time. He sent an email before Sunday letting everyone know what we would be talking about, so that we could all come prepared. Here is part of his email:
How can we, practically and specifically, help each other to abide in Chirst (and thereby fuel our love for God andÂ our love and service to others in the name of Christ)?Â To help us be practical and specific… what ways have others helped you grow in your faith, trust, and obedience to Christ?Â And in whatÂ other ways could others help you? (emphasis in original email)
So, when we got together, we did talk about practical and specific way that we could help others and ways that we could be helped. Several people shared opportunities that they’d had in the last couple of weeks to demonstrate the love of God, or times when they’d witnessed and been encouraged by others as they loved and served in the name of Jesus.
Slowly, a few people began making suggestions about how we could specifically serve others. One sister told about an opportunity to spend time in a local hospital. Another sister shared about a family who was having financial problems. A brother shared about his neighbor. A couple of sisters talked about the elderly people they see during the week. The church could serve all of these people in some ways.
Then, a young lady – a teenager actually – spoke up. She had gone with us when we had provided “More Meals” to some of the needy people in our area. She remembered that one of the elderly ladies that we had visited needed her yard raked.
And, this is where we took “the next step.” Margaret, my wife, suggested that whoever was available that afternoon could go to this lady’s house and rake her leaves. Everyone thought this was a great idea! So, we ate lunch together, then several of us (about 14) went to the lady’s and raked the leaves in her yard.
The lady was so surprised and grateful! Margaret and another friend (and our daughters) will continue to see this lady and her husband at least once per week. They will continue to be able to impact their lives with the love of Christ. And, now, because we took the next step, the whole community is involved in this couple’s life!
I’m praying that we continue to take the next step.