I am open today from 11 am to 1 pm. Generally a team of two, alternating weeks, staff me. People come in the side door past the big staircase in the wedding garden where they are greeted and recorded. Depending on their family size, they shop for food to meet about 3-4 days’ need. Today, about ten to twelve families will come and shop my shelves and the one average-sized refrigerator that fits into my small room.
At about 11:30 the shoppers return from Birch Community Services – whose mission statement is “to provide a community where people can be responsible and accountable for their needs and to equip them with tools to overcome financial difficulty”. They get between 600 and 900 pounds of food to stock the shelves with – bulk rice, frozen vegetables, strangely-flavored chips and soda. Occasionally they get lucky and find some meat or some canned goods. Some shoppers have houses and apartments to cook in and some do not, so volunteers who go to Birch try to balance the foods they are offered with what different sorts of shoppers can use. Occasionally there are other things in storage to be pulled out, so the people stocking the shelves look for other gaps on the shelves to fill.
Every once in a while bulk foods need to be broken down, be it boxes of hamburger patties or bags of cous cous. This usually happens on an off day, where a volunteer will break things down and then come down and stock the shelves.
A different team from Sunday opens up the pantry at two. As on Sundays, they check the donation bin at the church entrance to see if anything needs transferred onto my shelves downstairs. They will usually have six to eight shoppers to greet and record, with a new person or two to get registered on a short sheet. These volunteers are responsible for making sure that everyone is getting a fair amount of food according to their family size, for keeping the room uncluttered, and for making people feel invited and warm. The pantry is closed up again at 4 pm.
Most weeks, the occasional person will walk in and ask for help with groceries. Even though the pantry is not open, someone from the office will walk them downstairs and help them get set up with a registration card and a few days worth of food. Sometimes they have another need to be filled, such as energy assistance or clothing. The office takes in these requests and follow up with the guest shopper.
Volunteers go to a nearby bread company and get roughly fifty bread items, then come in and stock my shelves for the next week’s worth of shoppers. The bread contribution is a huge blessing that provides a staple item for families in our church and local community.
Our food pantry is small and discreet; many people might not even realize that we have one. However, to our friends who shop regularly, it is a big help to stretch the budget a little farther. Some people have other methods of grocery assistance and some do not. We believe that our pantry is for the good of our community in any form that takes, and we try to put as few stipulations on our shoppers as possible. We recognize that it is a huge act of love that helps to make earth look a little more like heaven. We also reach out to people not already part of our church family – maybe this will be the thing that makes a difference.
This year it was also an avenue for the distribution of our Thanksgiving baskets. It was an opportunity for Troutdale Elementary families to recognize that they have yet another resource – and another friend – at Harvest Christian Church. I was overwhelmed by the support that we received for that ministry drive. It was a big relief to families and a great way for our pantry to show even more love. Thank you thank you thank you for taking part.
If you decide you want to help support our pantry, there are several ways to do it:
- Occasional Opportunities: breaking down bulk items, scooping ice cream at the January 14 chili cook-off, cleaning, stocking items,
- Regular Opportunities: become a weekly volunteer: We are currently in need of an additional Sunday volunteer who can work fairly reliably every other week from 11 am until 1 pm. We are also currently in need of two people who are regularly available on Mondays from 10 am to 12:30 pm.
- We can always use the following items:
- Peanut butter
- Canned meat
- Canned veggies
- Canned fruit
- Canned soups
- Excess garden produce
- We also do pay a fee to shop at BCS, so financial giving does have a place. Any money given should be designated to the “Care Team” fund.
- We can always use the following items:
- If your workplace, school, or community group wants a service project, we would love to have you come up with ways to stock our shelves. Recently, a group of nursing home employees had a contest to see who could bring in the most non-perishable items. Our pantry hugely benefited from this drive.
- Again, financial contributions are incredibly helpful as well.
- Spread the Word
- If you know someone in the area who needs extra help: let them know that we are here to support them.
- If you know someone with extra resources: remind them that we are a willing recipient of anything that can be easily passed out of our pantry (mostly food, occasionally clothing and hygiene items)
Interested in helping in the Food Pantry? Contact Faith Fox at [email protected]. We could not do this without our faithful volunteers!
I went my whole 18 years growing up to a great church of 800 in central Indiana that feels very similar to Harvest. I then moved and went to a small church of 30 in college, which was a totally different experience. Except one summer when I ended up having an internship, so I packed up my dorm room and moved to Bend, Oregon for ten weeks.
This church did this crazy thing every summer where they brought on fifteen interns. They want to offer college-age young adults the opportunity to serve in five different areas of ministry. Some people did it for credit and some people did it to get away. The part strangest to me is that they found thirteen families in their congregation to host these fifteen interns. There were hosts of all sorts. Some had no kids, some had young kids, and some had grown kids. It was very diverse.
Through this strange thing that they did, I got to learn a ton about hospitality. I had never seen a community support people like this. Everyone had us over for dinner, gave us odd jobs while we were doing this unpaid internship, and celebrated our birthdays. This community in Bend made me start to realize what it looked like for the church to be amazingly hospitable. Attending and now working at Harvest has continued to teach me this lesson.
God loves hospitality, and Harvest was made in His image. When my husband and I moved to Oregon, I immediately felt loved. I won’t make a big fuss over naming names, but there are so many of you that made me feel incredibly welcome after moving thousands of miles away from my family.
This post isn’t just to tell you guys what a great job you are doing, but that’s where I will start. Harvest family, I love how you shake hands by the door. I love how you show new families over to our check-in desk. I love how you serve in coffee ministry in one way or another. I love how you make this building look beautiful, and also how you make it seem warm. I love that you sit next to people and greet in the auditorium. I love that we do pie calls, that we reassure parents of new children when we show them the classroom, and that we host small groups. I think that this warm, relational focus is the best way to do ministry. I have a large round of applause for my church family.
Next, keep going.
I read this awesome book called The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark. The gentleman is a sociologist, and he set out to figure out why the church spread so fast when it was j
ust an infant. Have you stopped to think recently about the history of it all? The church was basically just a crowd of people who followed Jesus around, probably 120 right after the crucifixion. Three hundred years later Stark estimates that there were over 6 million. His research leads him to believe that the church consistently grew by 40% per decade. Let that sink in. It’s insane. The government just stopped trying to fight it.
What led them to this sort of growth? This author goes through several factors, from fertility to class. What he proves, however, is that Christians were just different. They took care of people. When an epidemic swept through and everyone fled for their wellness, Christians stuck around and nursed people back to health. They shared amongst themselves what was needed. If someone had a lot, why wouldn’t they share? They were rare in that time in that they valued their children, they respected women, and they showed mercy. They didn’t run away when the difficulties of life came. They were hospitable and warm.
Of course, this also exists in Scripture. One of the first things we read about the early church in Acts comes from the second chapter and starts in verse 42. It’s going to sound familiar, because Small Groups Pastor Kyle Fox has been writing a lot about it too. In the NIV it reads,
“42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Christians ate together, they prayed together, they let themselves by awestruck by God together. They shared their possessions and gave to the poor. They continued to meet. They were glad and sincere towards each other. Through this, they gained favor with the people. Through this, God added to their group.
Keep this in mind. Growing in your warmth and hospitality not only builds up the body of Christ but it grows it. I’ll encourage you again, keep going. Be different. Be the best people. Be a great part of our Christian community and Harvest family, and be a great part of your neighborhood and work place. Throw a block party. Have a neighbor or another church family over for dinner. Comfort people at work when life gets them down, bring them a coffee the next morning. Offer your help with a daunting task. Hospitality, warmth, and caring attracts people. It draws them in. It adds to those who will be with us in heaven. Go and make disciples, and be hospitable.
Ready to get more connected to the community of Harvest? Sign up to become part of a small group! Groups start the week of September 10th-16th with the study “I AM” by James MacDonald. [Click here for more information]
You may recognize some booklets for our “Super Hero Memory Program” that have gone home with your kids in the last couple of weeks (1st-3rd Graders). We are very excited about this! I am investing in our kids memorizing the Bible, in them hiding Scripture in their hearts. My goal is to get them started on being able to recognize Bible sections, to maybe even have a piece of Scripture to lean back on when they need help deciding what is right. I hope that this sets their hearts on a good course and crafts their identity. That’s a big goal, but if you don’t have a big goal why be motivated to try?
Here’s a few guidelines, straight from me. They have until August 4 to memorize these verses. There are many one-point verses, a few two-point verses, one three-point verse, and ten points for memorizing the book titles in order for each testament. That last one – that’s an easy ten points! They will need to keep their book throughout the summer, and when they bring this book to church they can recite the verses they memorized that week. A check-in volunteer, a classroom teacher, or I will sign and date when they recited the verse. At the end of the ten weeks, they can turn their books in to me and I will add up how many points they earned.
If they reach fifty-one points, they get to go to our Grand Prize Party. This will be something awesome, like laser tag, mini golf, or a movie pizza party. Like I said, I am investing in your kids learning Scripture! There are other prize tiers too, and you can check these out in the memorization books.
This program is for upcoming first through third graders. I am also relying on you, parents/grandparents/guardians, to help them memorize. These kids aren’t all strong readers yet, and we aren’t providing designated class time for memorization. So at home, help them read the verses, find some songs on YouTube that give the verses a fun tune, and Google other great memorization practices. I know that when I had to memorize verses in college, Scripturetyper.com was an AWESOME resource. I’m splitting the responsibility with you- help them learn, and we’ll listen to the recitation and provide GREAT prizes.
There is good in it for you too! No Grand Prize Party for adults, but I have confidence that as your are coaching your kid or listening to them practice, it will help you to memorize these verses yourself. Have you memorized much Scripture? I know that many people come to faith as adults, and I am so excited about that. But in that process, did you go through the elementary process of memorization?
Church, this isn’t just for parents of the kids in Uptown. Memorizing Scripture is incredibly useful. Scripture says that we hide His word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him. It helps us with our call to righteousness. It turns our heart towards loving him. Scripture also says to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have. This is a great reason to study apologetics through philosophy and science, but it is also a great reason to memorize Scripture. When someone challenges you, and I hope that they do, what do you have to say? Do you have passages of the Bible that you can share in conversation with someone who might doubt what God’s word has to say? Can you share something that motivates you to love?
Even me. I know many of the verses that these little disciples will be memorizing, but I can’t tell you the scriptural “address” of several of those. There are others that I only have a faint idea of what they say, I can refer to a phrase and say “I’m pretty sure that is in the Bible somewhere.” I had a great memorization program in my children’s ministry, and in college! So some of you might be like me, and need to decide on a refresher course. If you need accountability, feel free to come talk to me, or as always you can email me at [email protected]
This summer, I commit to memorizing these Scriptures alongside our kids. I will make sure that, by the time the day comes around in August, that I will know all of these verses. I will memorize the books of the Bible in order. I hope you will too!
DOWNLOAD THE MEMORY VERSE BOOK HERE: Memory Verse Program Book 2017
Scripture Memory Challenge:
- John 16:33
- Zephaniah 3:17
- Philippians 4:4
- Colossians 3:12
- 1 John 5:3
- Hebrews 13:8
- Psalm 150:6
- Romans 10:13
- Romans 3:23
- James 1:17
- Matthew 28:20
- Psalm 118:24
- Psalm 119:105
- Matthew 22:39
- 1 Corinthians 10:31
- Psalm 19:1
- Genesis 1:1
- Psalm 139:14
- Matthew 28:6
- 1 John 4:9
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Isaiah 26:4
- Joshua 1:9
- Psalm 46:1
- Isaiah 40:28
- John 3:16
- Ephesians 4:32
- Philippians 4:6
- 2 Timothy 4:12
- 2 Timothy 3:16
- Romans 6:1
- John 14:6
- Luke 2:52
- Psalm 136:1
- 1 John 3:18
- Ecclesiastes 9:10
- Galatians 5:22-23
- Matthew 28:19-20
- Proverbs 3:5-6
- Matthew 22:37-39
- Books of the Old Testament
- Books of the New Testament
Hello Harvest Family. I am sending your way ten reasons why you should be part of the VBS volunteer staff. Some are big, some are small, all are relevant. Enjoy!
1. We have snacks. They’re going to be good snacks. They are going to be theme-driven and cute. Why even finish the list?
2. Jesus loves kids. He said to let the little children come to me. Whether you are a regular volunteer, so scared of large groups of children that you make a wide loop into the auditorium away from the kid wing, or have been slowly considering whether or not Uptown is a ministry you want to commit to, we can find a way for you to take part in Jesus’ love for the little ones.
3. Your kid/grandkid/brother/niece would love it. They would be so excited to have you there taking part!
4. You’ll get a t-shirt. All volunteers are going to get an AWESOME t-shirt, design and color TBD.
5. You will get to take part in teaching kids about how BIG God is. If you love God, if you love God so much that you just can’t help but let it pour out of you, I NEED you. No negotiations. We will have unreached kids there that NEED someone passionate to tell them about how awesome God is.
6. You can be a part of our children’s ministry, even if you don’t have the opportunity for a month on/month off Uptown commitment. I get it, it’s hard to say “yes, I can be in the classroom every other month.” But this is just three hours a day for five days. It’s easy. It’s a great opportunity for members of our congregation who are not normally in our ministry to get to support their discipleship.
7. You really love stargazing, right? Well, we have a stargazing themed VBS this year. It’s perfect for you!
8. These lessons are great for everyone. They are basic and important. Kids, big kids, and adults alike can benefit from what we are offering.
9. We have crafts. And games. And worship. And missions. It’s going to be so much fun.
10. You love Harvest. We love you! You’re part of our family. Serving at VBS is a great way to solidify connections and make relationships. It’s a good thing, I promise.
There you have it. Ten simple reasons. If you resonate with any of these, you can pass a background check, and you have some spare time in the month of July please consider being a part of the VBS staff. There is a wide variety of ways you can help, and they aren’t all Monday –Friday 8:30-12:30. You can sign up with this link [Sign up Here] , or fill out a volunteer form on Sunday. I’ll be in touch soon.
If you have questions or concerns, always feel free to email me at [email protected]
In Uptown have been talking about the fruits of the Spirit. We had one memory verse during this series, and that is Galatians 5:22-23. My goal for the children in this series is to know that piece of Scripture, “But the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” My secondary goal is for them to, at a young age, start to understand the being and purpose of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a mysterious being. While the children are learning that the Holy Spirit is a Helper that God sends to give us certain fruits, I think there are a few deeper things that adult believers should know. I have come to love a few sections of verses about it.
Primarily, Acts 2 shows a dynamic outpouring of the Holy Spirit from heaven onto the disciples. In Acts 1 Jesus ascends into heaven, and in the very next chapter there appears tongues of fire blown in by violent winds. The Spirit even enabled them to speak to people from other nations and other languages, which the disciples put to good use by spreading the gospel further. Peter preached and converted thousands of people. A portion of what he offered them in his final appeal was “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Peter had just experienced this, and now whenever we speak of the “gift of the Holy Spirit,” we have an amazing visual of the power that the Holy Spirit has.
The next starts in John 14:15, and reads in the NIV as follows:
“’If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.’
“Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’
“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’”
I will not try to expound on everything in this passage, in truth I include all ten verses only because I think it is important to have a rounded idea of the context. The most important parts for me today are about the role of the Holy Spirit. We see in the first few verses as well as the last few verses that when Jesus left the Earth He sent another Being in His stead. The being:
- Is a Counselor
- Will be with us forever
- Includes Truth as part of its very being
- Is rejected by the world, they neither see nor know Him
- Is Holy
- Is sent in the name of Jesus
- He lives with us and will be with us
- Will teach us all things
- Will remind us of the things Jesus taught
The last passage that I will leave you with today is Galatians 5. Again in the NIV, it reads like this:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have been crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
I recommend memorizing verse 22 and 23 along with the kids we are teaching, because we all have moments when we need to be reminded to choose to be holy. If you believe in Jesus as the Christ, you have the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit puts these good things in our lives to overcome our sinful nature. They cannot coexist. This is straight from the Scripture.
One thing we are teaching in Uptown is that its okay to ask God for help, because He can send us His Helper (that lives with us and in us) to help us choose, for example, patience rather than fits of rage. He can send His Helper to help us choose peace instead of discord; joy instead of envy; self-control instead of selfish ambition. We don’t have to rely on ourselves, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. As 2 Peter 1:3 reads, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
I believe that it is because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that we are reminded of what Jesus wants us to know, that we are made righteous, and that we are given certain qualities, or “fruits,” through our belief in and love for God. For some of you this might be an indication of some new places to study to get to know the gift that we have from the Father in the Holy Spirit, and for others I have hopefully provided a refreshment through remembering the Helper that you have.
Right now in Uptown we just finished up The Story for Children curriculum. Chyanne Higgins, our previous Children’s Director, started the transition with this curriculum taking the kids through the Bible learning about the scope of the narrative overall. Through this curriculum, your children have seen how God made the world, they have seen that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit the relationship between God and man was broken. God knew that He would need to send a savior, and designed a history of man that points towards the person of Jesus. Abraham accepted the promise of God, he begat Isaac who begat Jacob, and the Israelites who descended moved to Egypt. With them they carried the promises of God. Israel eventually left the grasp of Egypt, and spent every generation from that time on struggling to remain faithful to God. We learned about good kings who tried to pull them back to God like David, Solomon, and Asa. We learned about the prophets who God spoke through to put them back like Haggai and Jeremiah. Through it all, they were promised a savior. When Jesus was born, he fulfilled everything. We wrapped up from there – showing the kids that Jesus is our king and he has something great for us.
As I was planning these lessons for our department it was refreshing to be reminded of how the whole story comes together to show the insane goodness and persistent love of God. I hope my children’s ministry staff benefited from these as I did. Most importantly, the kids had fun learning, too! They played games and did crafts that emphasized these lessons.
We are now learning about the Fruits of the Spirit as a mini-series around Easter until we start something new later in the spring. The emphasis is being placed on God working on earth through His Spirit to make us more like Him. When we know him, he gives us these qualities in our lives. “But the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” This is found in Galatians 5, and we are combining them with stories of the apostles from Acts that exemplify these qualities.
Also, recently, children have been learning some songs in a gathered worship time. We have implemented this for the month of March to help them learn songs for Palm Sunday and
Easter kids choir performances. Parents do need to sign kids up for the stage performance, but they have had a ton of fun with Rachel Johnson learning these songs as part of their normal Sunday activity.
I am also planning fun times for our parents and kids to get together, providing that Christian community that we keep encouraging. We had an ornament decorating party at Christmas where kids and parents alike were given an avenue to be creative. This week, during spring break we will spend Thursday (March 30) in the gym playing kickball, tag, and parachute games around a break for lunch.
Our UpCamps from last summer will be surfacing again around the centerpiece of Vacation Bible School from July 10-14. We will meet in the mornings, getting out in time for lunch.
Mark your calendars! Our theme is “Galactic Starveyors.” I am excited to be able to lay out for you our daily themes:
- The Relationship Began – Genesis 1:1-2, 26-31; John 1:1, 14
- The Relationship Broken – Genesis 3
- The Relationship Promised – Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-24; Luke 2:22-39
- The Relationship Restored – Mark 12:22-16:7
- The Relationship Continues – John 21:1-19; Acts 1:4,8
We will have more information and more excitement as the week gets closer, but keep us in mind when you are planning your summer. This will be a great event for kids familiar with church to build some theology and continuity, as well as a great outreach and evangelism tool for anyone else you may want to invite. We will also need plenty of help in many different areas!
Before I sign off, I just want to share that my personal focus when it comes to children’s ministry is to build up our local community. I want to provide Biblical teaching for your kids in a safe environment, to provide resources for your family to grow to know God better, and to equip you to go and be a light in our dark world. I hope that what I have to share about our ministry encourages you, that it shines a light on the little ones in our midst and shows that they are important to us because we know that they are important to God.
If you are interested in having any information about our Children’s Ministry, think you might want to volunteer, or want to know what other sort of resources we have for families please e-mail [email protected]
Recently, on a Saturday, I joined three ladies from our congregation during a morning of service at Adorned in Grace. We only had room for a small group in their back storage area. When we arrived, Dottie from Adorned in Grace, walked us around their showroom and explained what their mission is.
Adorned in Grace is operated under Abolition Now, a Portland Christian non-profit dedicated to efforts against sexual trafficking and care for its victims. They operate on peoples’ generosity alone: the dresses and space are donated, they are staffed with volunteers, renovations were donated to the old building formerly owned by another local church, and their income comes from the sale of the donated items. The organization loves receiving dresses with stories attached to them, it makes it the most fun for them to be bought and used again. They have some dresses that do not sell so they re-purpose them through either saving precious pieces of them or by donating them to the next organization that they collaborate with.
Dottie herself does a lot of the sewing; the robes that brides wear when they are trying on dresses are handmade from old dresses. The love and generosity that goes into and comes out of this organization is wonderful. When we went back to their storage area, we saw a room stuffed with both wedding dresses and prom or bridesmaid dresses. The colorful, often sleeker dresses were being saved for their Dress for Freedom event, a time when girls, especially those in foster care, come in
and have their own day of getting dressed up and just being carefree girls who get to feel great about themselves.
The wedding dresses in this room are where we came in. They were being sent to the next ministry because they had not sold at AiG. We put three or so in a dress bag, zipped it up, and laid it flat. Then on to the next dresses. While doing this we were able to get to know each other better and enjoy using our own basic capabilities to serve.
We have been stressing building community here at Harvest. My husband Kyle and I moved here because of the incredible community he had experienced here when he was an intern. Now we are trying to improve upon that by creating new small groups and trying to convince you that it is worth it. I completely agree. I want each one of you to experience deep Christian community. I want you to cry and laugh together, to offer godly advice and commiserate gently over not quite getting it right, and to see different aspects of God through getting to know more of his people. We each have unique talents and interests, we have different backgrounds, and we each understand God and his kingdom slightly differently. We can learn from each other and become better for it. I hope that you all see this and embrace it. It might be scary at first but it is worth it, I promise.
Here is another way that I propose we build community: Let us go serve together. I am not suggesting this in place of a small group, but rather an additional way to be plugged into to the body of believers. Maybe your small group would want to get involved in a regular service project. This might be putting the cart before the horse, but email me and I can help you get that set up. Maybe you end up loving your small group but want the opportunity to meet more people outside your small group. I (Faith) will be setting up periodic opportunities to serve somewhere that is available to our entire church body; it is a great chance to meet different people.
It is also a great chance to know what is outside our specific gathering of Christians, to meet at these communal places of ministry between regular church gatherings. In addition, after serving together, you get opportunities to meet people and get to know them on a much deeper level. For instance, at Adorned in Grace, we all really enjoyed getting to know each other and what the ministry was a part of and how it operated. It was a precious experience, getting to be in the room with these lovely symbols of such a happy and important day. In the future, I plan to arrange more service projects at Adorned in Grace, My Father’s House, and at the Pregnancy Resource Center. If there is any place that you strongly stand behind or serve on even a semi-regular basis, I want to know and see what we can do with our resources of people here at Harvest.
There are other opportunities besides these! Local ministries constantly need volunteers. Grab a few friends and go serve. I can even point you in the direction of the ones in need. Our Care Ministry has a meal train-grab a few people you want to know better and make a meal for a new mom or a grieving family. Serve a family on your block by bringing over some treats. There are many levels of application for what I am advocating. I think service is another vital part of community, but not exclusively in serving others. Serving with others is a great tool, if only on this level: it’s easier to get to know someone when you are working, when you have something to do to take the awkwardness away?
To start, here at Harvest you will be seeing regular announcements for opportunities to serve. I would love to see an enthusiastic response, both from people who enjoy getting to know each other and from people who just enjoy getting to know and be involved in different ministries. These will be low commitment…a few hours on a Saturday morning or maybe the odd evening. If you have a million things happening in your life, these will hopefully still fit in from time to time. Many of these projects will be a great activity for the whole family! We’d love to see you there.