I grew up going to church, but rarely served outside of church. We gave clothes to Goodwill and tried to help our friends in need, but nothing that I would say was regular serving outside of church. Then in high school I had a pastor take me to Mexico – and God really spoke to me through that serving week. It greatly impacted my life and how I saw my possessions and my time. The next year I went and God changed me even more. Yet I still did not serve outside of church very often.
When I moved to Chicago – where there is so much need – God was working on me (and I was slowly responding!). I was doing youth ministry and teaching and helping my friends in college, and gradually starting to serve outside of my little circles. God was stretching me in this time – so that eventually I started serving more regularly, working with the homeless and helping with the Salvation Army. Over the years I have gone back to Mexico, worked with food packing, helped with the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity. Honestly, I know this is an area where the Lord is continuing to stretch and grow me.
I love serving outside the church – my faith comes alive, I feel good about serving with Jesus, and I have a chance to serve outside of my normal circle. It means I have to make the time and get it on my calendar (which is really my biggest struggle). I know many in church who naturally serve – at school helping their kids, as a crossing guard, volunteering at a Gospel mission or pregnancy center. There are so many ways that we can serve and help and make a difference, being a light for God in this world.
At Covenant Grove Church IMPACT, or serving outside of church, is one of the 7 key commitments we ask people in our church to make. This is obeying the call and commission of Jesus to make a difference in the world with Him, and to share His love in our actions. We ask people to serve outside of church before they do double ministry or Bible studies, “Do everything once before you do anything twice.” That is the challenge of the 7 Commitments, and in growing all 3 roots of Discipleship, Fellowship, and Mission. These roots keep us strong in the storms, they keep us anchored to Christ. May we serve and make a difference in this world that God so loves!