With so many churches eating their own feet, it’s nice to personally experience one doing it right. It’s a simple story, but I decided to share it with you all so that you can get a good picture of how church is supposed to be.
My wife recently had our first son. The church got together and started a food train with church members bringing us meals for supper several nights. Like I said, it’s a very simple story, one many churches have done in the past. But there were a dozen little things they did that made this church stand out as a beacon of service that I think other churches should emulate.
They did the best they could with what they had.
Our church is very small, in fact it only began in October, so having a dozen meals brought to our house was a serious deal. This wasn’t some 100+ member church or some big organization that planned this. It was an intimate community committed to taking care of its own. Everybody chipped in, no matter how high on the non-existent totem pole. They couldn’t do a ton, but they knew feeding us saved us the trouble of cooking, which also saved us money. A small gesture, but repeated like it was, it went a long, long way.
The congregation took initiative.
The pastor didn’t have to wag his finger, the congregants didn’t dig their heels, they all committed joyfully. The wife of our small-group leader started a sign-up sheet and people signed on their own free will. Willful and joyful service. No guilt trips, no obligation, just people loving other people. Too many churches think the pastors are the servants, but a good church is made of many servants. We all do the work.
They gave a lot.
When I saw the meal train sign-up sheet, I thought I was seeing things. There were open spaces for every other day from late November to January. That’s 16 meals in about a month. There weren’t enough people to fill that list, but we’ve had over half of those slots occupied by generous cooks. They could have planned for maybe a week, but everyone chipped in and filled our bellies for a long time. Not only did we save money by not cooking, but we had leftovers galore! Our grocery bill was cut in half and we had one less thing to worry about every other day.
They gave the best.
Do you know the problem with most food drives? They give the dregs, the leftovers, and the extra. They give in a way that robs them the least, not in a way that blesses the most. Not my church. They went above and beyond.
Every meal looked like it took time and effort. Everyone called ahead to see what we liked and what we hated. One person brought chicken noodle soup with real chicken, peas, and carrots, plus some garlic bread which they’d already buttered and some dessert cookies. Yeah, everybody brought a side, a dessert, or both. Even when someone bought us takeout, they didn’t just bring food, they brought meals. And it was always delicious.
Strangely enough, we never had duplicates. Okay, two people brought us pizza, but you can never have too much pizza. But even there, they went above and beyond! One couple brought us a three-pack of frozen pizzas so that even on non-giving nights, we could just throw a pizza in if we were tired. Another couple got us two ENORMOUS pizzas so that they’d last a while.
Probably the best was a young lady who brought us meat pasties (they look like mini pies stuffed with beef, carrots, and onions), which must have cost a lot of money with all the beef. She cooked two and brought them hot, but also gave us four more to put in the freezer. Each one was enough to stuff one person. Two could easily split one. That’s a lot of food. Plus, she brought a chocolate pie so we’d have dessert for a while, too. This was after she’d already visited at the hospital and brought two bags of Christmas candy and a giant case of baby wipes. That’s going above and beyond the call.
They did this service to “the least of these.”
My wife and I aren’t movers and shakers in our church, even though it’s tiny. We aren’t pastors, small group leaders, tech guys, worship leaders, visionaries, children’s leaders, administrative personnel, ushers, or anything of real merit. We participate and help out, but sometimes I feel like we’re falling behind. When we say we’ll pray for someone, I’m ashamed to say we forget. We’ve even personally butted heads with the pastor.
But the church gave anyway. Even people we didn’t know that well. I wasn’t that close to the young lady who in the last section who did so much for us, but her generosity didn’t depend on intimacy, neither did anybody else’s. Shoot, as I write this, I’m looking forward to a meal from someone I’m not sure I’ve even met! This church doesn’t just give to close friends; they give to people in need.
That’s how you do church.
Being a Christian means being a servant. People above us bowed low to serve. People who weren’t pastors or church officials of any kinds took it upon themselves to serve. People far away came near to serve. Strangers became friends so they could serve. And everybody served with joy and with abundance. My wife have been overwhelmed with blessing. We thank God for these people all the time and pray that he blesses them in return, which we know he will. Why? Because Jesus said that those who serve at the greatest (Matt 20:27) and that even serving the least of people will bring reward in Heaven (Matt 25:34-40).
May your church be as loving and compassionate as this one has been. And may the have half as many good cooks!