Over the last month, I have had the joy of spending time with an adult small group examining our church’s understanding of discipleship. Connecting with God, Connecting with People and Connecting with Purpose formed the framework for the lessons and discussions that were shared. We looked deeper into both the biblical roots for this path as well as how we as a church are providing opportunities to live it out. At our last meeting, the conversation focused on Connecting with Purpose through serving. The group was passionate about addressing a multitude of worldwide and community issues however, two particular issues seemed to claim the most attention:
- Hunger: The lack of access to food when there should be enough money and resources to provide for all.
- Homelessness: The tendency of cities and communities to eliminate places like tent cities without having a plan for where people will go. And, little to no affordable housing for lower income individuals and families being developed.
Intense feelings charged our conversation as people expressed their frustration. The broken systems that allow these issues to continue make it difficult to feel like we are making or can make a difference.
Yet, we did not leave the gathering without hope.
Serving can take us beyond the comfortable walls of the church and brings us into contact with people who are different from us in some way. Through these encounters, and through the relationships that developed, group members have experienced change and transformation. Not just transformation in the life of the other person, but transformation and shifts in their own understanding and perspective. Giving money or goods to a cause or organization is important and needed, but the ability to form relationships and truly interact with others by serving gives Connecting with Purpose a new meaning.
In last week’s sermon, Holly talked about the overlap between connecting with God, people and purpose as being the center and goal of our discipleship. Living in the overlap is where we are closest to the work of the Holy Spirit. We live into these opportunities by serving in the church, face-to-face with others in our community. I think of this overlap between God, people and purpose as I listen to stories and conversations during Mobile Food Pantry, build relationships while volunteering at Mission Central or interact on mission trips.
I hope that as we learn about and are confronted by issues and challenges facing our community and world, we will be moved into action. Being led and inspired by the Holy Spirit will move us closer to living into the overlap.