I am writing this post to give thanks to God for the great work that was done through the wonderful people of First Baptist Church last week. We had an entire week dedicated to loving our neighbors and we saw God do some amazing things. By the time last Sunday rolled around I was mentally and emotionally exhausted, but my spirit was full.
Our Family Ministries Pastor had a vision to spend a week serving our neighbors. This vision birthed what became known as #FBCServes. During the week our church family filled nearly 150 volunteer spots while serving hundreds of people in various ways. We served families waiting for the Torchlight parade, helped to beautify the local Loring Park rose garden, helped to feed and clothed over 200 homeless and much more. It was a privilege to see our church family rally together for our week of service and may God be honored and glorified through our work.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16)."
I am writing this to give thanks to God for his good work. It is not to make a name for myself or our church. It is not to pat ourselves on the back as if we have it all figured out. It is to celebrate the good work that God did in and through our community and give all the praise and recognition to Him.
Why do we Serve?
It is consistent with our love for Jesus
It is impossible to claim to love Jesus and not lovingly serve our neighbors. A clear call from Jesus to his followers is that we would engage in acts of love that meet real and tangible needs in the life of those around us. We are called to serve people around us. To humble ourselves and seek the good of others. Jesus told his disciples that the greatest in the Kingdom would be those who serve (Mk. 10: 42-45). Elsewhere in the Bible, we are told that it is impossible to claim a love for God if we do not also love our neighbors (1 John 4:19-21). God has redeemed us so that we would be zealous to do good works, which God has prepared for us (Titus 2:14, Eph 2:10).
It brings glory to God
God calls us to love others well as a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself. I would not want to minimize the importance of God's call to simply love others well. But that is not the only reason engage in acts of service. It also provides a great testimony to the God we love. The Bible talks about our good works serving as a way to bring glory to God (1 Peter 3:12, Mt 5:16). This provides a credible testimony to others and gives an opportunity to share the gospel.
Highlights for the week
Over the week, we had the opportunity to serve in many different ways. Here is a recap of all the things that God did through our community during FBC Serves.
We kicked off our serve week by hosting our annual Torchlight Tailgate. This event is geared toward serving the hundreds of people who sit near our church along the parade route, which runs along Hennepin Ave. We had over 50 volunteers help to provide inflatables, face painting, crafts, juggling entertainment, sleight of hand entertainment, popcorn and 480 hot dogs. Between adults and children we had well over 500 people come through our parking lot that night. It was amazing to watch all the volunteers rally together to put on this event.
Baking treats for our Neighbors
On Thursday night we had 20 people join us to make brownies, cookies and other baked goods for our neighboring offices. There were also others who brought some treats they had made at home. Through all those efforts we were able to package up 20 gift boxes that were filled with baked goods.
Passing out treats to our neighbors
On Friday morning, a team of people took those 20 gift boxes to some of our neighboring offices. We were able to bless some of the hard working people who are located in offices near us. It was a joy to wish them all a happy Friday and give them all some delicious treats. The reception we got was fantastic!
Weeding the Loring Park Rose Garden
Another team of people worked with some organizers form Loring Park to help clear the large Rose Garden on the corner of Hennepin and Oak Grove. We had hoped for a few more volunteers for this, but the ones who came worked very hard on a hot day. It was a great way to bless our local community by helping to care for that important community space.
Community Fun Day with Local Aeon Apartments
On Friday afternoon, two teams of people went to two different affordable housing apartment buildings near the church. We provided some community activities including bingo, games and crafts to help build relationships and support the community development of those apartments. We also made some bagged meals and cleaned some of the community spaces. The residents were very thankful and it was great to spend time with some of our neighboring residents.
Homeless outreach with In Love, Word and Deed
We hosted one of our regular Saturday outreaches with In Love, Word and Deed (ILWD). We have loved our partnership with this amazing ministry and it was great to include an ILWD Saturday Outreach as part of #FBCServes. We gave away 200 chili dogs, 200 bagged meals, a significant amount of clothes and as much prayer as people wanted to receive. As always, our partnership with ILWD was an amazing opportunity to have a tangible expression of God's love for people.
Making Blankets for Children's Hospital and hearing from a missionary
On Sunday morning, we coordinated an opportunity to hear from one of our missionaries, Gary and Pat Olander who works with Cru City in Phoenix and we also made tie blankets for the Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. We had about 40 people come from all different generations. We had the youngest to the oldest all working together to make 10 different blankets for the Children's Hospital.
Let this be a catalyst
Our FBC Serves week was meant to be a way for us to have a concentrated effort toward serving our community in tangible ways. We saw many people volunteer from the church and I am amazed at what God did during that week.
Let this be a catalyst. Let it be a beginning, not an end. Our FBC Serves week was not a period at the end of a sentence. It was more like the first word of a beautifully composed prose. Our prayer is that this would awaken an even deeper desire in our church family to love people through serving. May God be glorified in our efforts to love our neighbors well.
As you finish reading this, please ask yourself how you can get involved. Are there ways that you can love those around you? Are there ways you can partner with us at FBC or with your own church community to engage in a tangible expression of God's love, so that he would be glorified and that more and more people would worship Him.