I started going to church in my teens. My mom came to faith when I was in grade 7 and started sharing about Jesus with me. Growing up in a single-parent home was tough. My mom was often trying to make ends meet. Though I thought she had jumped off the deep end when she became Christian, I am glad she brought me to church. As I learned about Jesus, it was then I discovered my identity and worth. After living years in resentment and feelings of rejection by my father, it was at church that I understood what it means to belong. People actually wanted to know who I am and what made me ‘me’. It was this belonging that led to my believing and becoming.
What does it mean for you to belong? Maybe it is people accepting you for who you are, your quirks and all. Maybe it is being able to share your hobbies and interests. Maybe it is just being able to sit beside and with other people. Maybe it is being in a safe environment to share your deepest concerns and troubles. Whatever it is, we all long for a sense of belonging.
As I grew in my faith and sense of belonging, something else came along: a deep desire to care and serve those around me. As you find your belonging, a desire to serve the God and community you are a part of will come. After all, why would one care for a church they do not feel a part of? It is like taking care of a home and family you have no relationship with. It might be okay in the beginning. But this attitude will not prove to be sustainable. When you belong to a community you care for and love, serving becomes natural. Over the years, I have noticed this correlation between a sense of belonging and a desire to serve. It is not training and education that leads to commitment, it is a deep sense of belonging. When you belong, you want to help and positively impact those around you.
Though I had this desire I did not know where to start. I took spiritual gift inventories that helped but nothing too concrete came from them. When we are not sure about our passions and gifts, we could go one of two ways. We could either sit back and do nothing or go forward and try everything. I did the latter. Why? Because of the motivation and guidance from mentors and peers around me. Most often, we are never farther than a simple encouragement that moves us from our “no’s” to “yeses”.
But as important as it is to discover what I am good at, I found it is equally as important to know what I am NOT good at. Being part of a small local church, there were many opportunities to serve. I tried teaching the kids Sunday School. Then discovered I am not so gifted in working with children. I chaired the Sunday Service, opening with prayer, doing announcements and praying for the offering. I learned the drums and started playing on the worship team. Then I tried leading worship – which I am definitely not cut out for. I also joined our coffee ministry – but broke 20 cups on my first “shift”. (not kidding!) But where did I felt most “in the zone”? When I was helping out by maintaining and renovating parts of the church. When I was leading small group. When I was out serving in local and overseas missions. It was in these opportunities that my gifts and passions were discovered. It was in community that my calling was confirmed.
What have I learned from these opportunities? Yes, I have learned what I am “good” and “not good” at. But far more than that, I learned what it means to be bold and how to take steps of faith. I have gained humility and appreciation for those in the body of Christ who have gifts I do not possess. Surrounded by loving leaders, I learned what it means to fail well. I felt how God can be our strength in our weaknesses. I learned that at the Cross, no matter who you are and what you have done, everyone belongs. In the Kingdom of God everyone has a place and everyone has a role. That is what the work of Christ on the Cross has accomplished, forever reconciling those who choose to believe. The church is meant to be a place where you can be who you are created to be.
This post is not only a call to serve. This is a call to first connect with community. This is a call to belong. This is an encouragement to say you can be part of building a church you can be proud of and call home.
Never settle and be comfortable with where you are at spiritually. Christians are not called to plateau but to soar. Keep pushing and discovering the areas God is calling you to grow in. Join a small group. Connect with people at fellowship events. Invite a friend and/or family member to church. Go on a missions trip. Serve locally. Give generously to people around you and to the church. God’s church and our community is worth fighting for.
If you are looking for specific ways to get involved and care for people at our church, here are a few opportunities and ideas:
- Teach a LLC Kids Sunday School Class.
- Lead a LLC Kid’s Sunday Service.
- Use your creativity for visual arts/decor.
- Help set up and establish our Family Ministries.
- Implement your knowledge of websites, media and design.
- Learn and play an instrument on our worship team.
- Lead a small group.
- Hand out coffee and clean up the streets in our monthly “Live Out Love” outreach.
- Become a greeter on our Welcome Team.
- Help brew coffee and set up our weekly Coffee Corner.
If this has impacted you in any way, then you are the person we have been waiting you. I challenge you to take that next step!
When you serve, you are living to the rhythm of the heartbeat that created the universe.
Why? “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
What are your gifts and passions? (Take spiritual gifts inventory here: http://buildingchurch.net/g2s.htm)
How can you use your gifts and passions to serve?
Which ministry is God calling you towards?
What have you always wanted to try, but never had an opportunity to?