May 8, 2012
Super Summer of Service…
Summer is rapidly approaching as the warmer temperatures arrive and the school year is winding down, thoughts of summer vacation trips and opportunities to unwind and take a break are on everyone’s mind. Weekend trips to the beach, the lake or the mountains, going to see family and getting a change of scenery are wonderful things for our families to enjoy together. I really hope and pray your time off and away will be a refreshing encouragement to you. As the lead under-shepherd God has placed here at Calvary, I have some encouragement for you as we head into the summer months.
First of all, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the very Son of God, set an example for His followers after seasons of intense ministry, took time off to refresh and spend time by Himself or with His disciples. Jesus understood the rigors of ministry, He understood the reality that serving and investing in others is fulfilling and rewarding but it is exhausting work. Jesus also understood that life and ministry is a marathon and not a sprint. So to keep from burning out, Jesus regularly took time out to rest and to pray. For all of you who faithfully serve and labor for the Lord here at Calvary, let me encourage you that if the Son of God needed to rest and recharge, you and I most certainly do as well. God has built in a Sabbath Day of rest every seven days so I encourage you to rest. When Jesus rested, He didn’t take a break from God, He went places to pray and reconnect with His Father. You should too, go check out that church near where you are vacationing. Bring me a bulletin because I like to see what other churches are up to.
Secondly, I want to encourage you to plan ahead. It is important that if you have a Sunday responsibility and you are going to be out of town, make sure you have your responsibilities covered in your absence. That should be understood but sometimes it is not and when the summer breeze blows, the beach calls and off people go, so excited to go but they forget their responsibilities. On more than one occasion I have walked through our children’s or preschool departments on a Sunday in the summer and the volunteers are scrambling because people who were scheduled to work did not show up or make provision for their absence. Communicate and plan ahead if you are going to be absent.
This brings me to my third encouragement that many people don’t stop to realize. While you take a vacation and head out of town, your church is open 52 Sundays a year except this year we actually have 53 Sundays of ministry. People forget that our expenses continue even through the summer and many churches struggle during the summer months because giving declines. I know people don’t intend for that to happen, but in the hubbub and bustle to get loaded up and get out of Dodge, the tithe and offering is often forgotten. When I’m travelling, I plan my bill paying with my bank and I schedule out the payments that need to be made and I include Calvary in that process so I know my tithe and offering comes to God’s storehouse. Again, it’s a simple matter of planning ahead so let me encourage you make sure you don’t forget your tithes and offerings. I’d also caution you in these tough economic times not to take the money that belongs to the Lord to spend on your vacation. He will not bless that time of recreation if you rob from Him.
Fourth, for too many years, we’ve have slogged it out through the summer with a grueling schedule of activity in the summer that included trying to have services on Wednesday evenings. As a staff we’re challenging our leaders and ministries to have an intentional purpose for all we do. We’ve found that our Summer Wednesday schedule does not have the impact or reach the intended purpose. We made a recommendation at our last church in conference that was approved; that we cancel our Wednesday evening schedule for the summer except that choir and praise team will practice on Wednesday evenings. What we’re proposing instead is what we are calling “Super Summer of Service”. We’d like to see families and Bible Study classes take on a servant evangelism project during the summer. It doesn’t have to happen on Wednesday or take place every week. We need to move church beyond the walls to engage our community and show God’s love in a practical way. These projects are fun and the only limitations are the extent of your imaginations. Here are some ideas to help stir the creative juices:
· We’ll have access to a list of people who’ve recently moved to a 3.5 mile radius around Calvary. Put together a “Welcome bag” with an area map, coupons to local restaurants (your favorite places) or things to do, fresh baked goods and deliver this to the new family. Invite them to come to church with you. The church will supply the bags, maps and you all can organize putting the bag together and the delivery team. This is so effective! When we first moved to North Carolina to go to seminary, within a day, we’d met all our neighbors who brought pies or veggies from their garden and at least three of them invited us to their church. We have a mailing going to these homes and the list will be available the week of June 18th.
· Families with young children can schedule a play night in Shamrock Park behind the church. The church will provide juice boxes, water and wrapped snacks. Your family goes to play and offers others free juice or water and a snack. It opens up conversations and an easy opportunity to invite them to VBS July 16-20. You’ll be shocked at how simple and effective this will be!
· Bible Study classes could offer a free car wash to show God’s love in a practical way. Be creative to the location it’s hosted and we’ll pay for the water for the business owner and the supplies to wash cars. Talk with people while their car is being washed. They are shocked it’s free and very open to talk about spiritual matters. We’ll provide an invite card or brochure about Calvary.
· Goodie baskets for our police or fire departments are always a hit. Tell them their neighbors at Calvary appreciate them and we want to care for them and their families.
· Feed parking meters during the day downtown or at the parking garage and put a card on the windshield telling them Calvary is showing God’s love in a practical way. We’ll provide the cards and the buy the quarters.
These are just a few ideas and there are many more you could do to take the church to the streets. Find a need in our community and fill it. Our plan is to have a big picnic at the end of the summer to give you a chance to share what God did with these simple service projects. The impact of this for the Kingdom of God will be profound and there will be people who go to Heaven because you cared enough to engage in Super Summer of Service! Pastor Mike will be coordinating this effort so let us know what you’re doing so we can help you make your project a successful endeavor. Sure there may be things we try and fail at it, but that’s okay because you never know unless you try!
Finally, be in prayer for these projects that people will see and hear about Jesus in our service and come to trust Him by faith. Pray for our Maine Mission team at the end of June, our youth going to Philadelphia on mission at the end of June, our senior youth headed to Haiti on mission in July, our 4th of July musical and our VBS in mid July. All of these are great opportunities to see people come to Christ, not to mention our weekend worship services that happen every Sunday. Rest, refocus, renew your spirit, but let’s make Summer 2012 a super summer of service that expands God’s kingdom. I’m looking forward to some rest and refocus time, but also a super summer of service from my little corner of the world to yours…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
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