If you have ever been to a Sunday morning gathering, chances are that you have experienced the “greeting” time where the pastor or a staff member stands before the crowd and says, “Let’s get to know each other this morning, find someone you don’t know and get to know them.” Then you search out faces you don’t know, shake their hand, introduce yourself to them, get their names, and before you even get back to your seat you are thinking, “What the heck was their name again?” Then the next week when you see them for the second time, you are hesitant to talk to them because you already forgot their name!
This process can be great to make visitors feel welcome, but cannot be relied on to truly grow the church in unity and fellowship. We have found that true relationships and growth are spurred on when our church serves together. We like to say, a church that serves together, grows together.
When we set out to serve our community in practical ways, team building is accomplished among each other. I know more people on a deeper level in our church through our Saturday outreaches than i do through Sunday gatherings or even through the small group my wife and i go to since the small group is just a microcosm of our overall body of believers. Through Saturday outreaches, I know people’s names, i hear their testimonies, i see their personalities, I share in their fears, anxieties, and excitements, i encourage, get encouraged, and ultimately i grow with those i serve with simply because this is how God designed us.
If you have ever been on a mission trip, you have experienced this kind of growth to where you truly consider those you are serving with your family. Many churches have this experience on mission trips that they go on once a year, but once they get back home this family culture fades in the absence of an effort to reach the local community around them.
This is where a consistent effort to reach people in your community through showing God’s love in a practical way becomes so benneficial for the people of the church to grow together.
This reminds me of a friend of mine who pastored a congregation in Forth Worth. He told me that once they started doing outreach multiple people who had been apart of the church for 15 years came up to him and said, “For the first time ever, i feel like i am a TRUE member of this church.”
Another man i met while we were training his church in kindness outreach was obviously very sad and lonely even among his own church family. He was extremely shy and introverted so we gave him a sign holding job on one of our Roadside Free Drink Giveaways. You could tell he was nervous at first, but after he saw that his job of holding the sign had a tremendous effect on if motorists took a free drink or not, he started getting very excited. Other members of his church who were serving with him started encouraging him as he was encouraging them as well. They learned each others names and personalities as they served together. That day we passed out 100’s of drink in just an hour with a team that had never done anything like this before. This man came up to me with tears in his eyes, shook my hand, and said. “Austin, today was one of the best days of my life!”
Now that is powerful!
Was this tremendous joy that this man had due to him holding a sign? No way, but this man experienced community among his church family like never before when he decided to step out and serve his city in a practical way. He identified himself with his church family truly for the first time.
When we grow in our love together as fellow believers, the community takes notice and this in of itself becomes an attracting power to the Church and to Jesus. Show God’s love in a practical way on a continuous basis and I guarantee you that your church that is serving together, will grow together.