Thursday, December 06, 2007
Saints In The Hood
Last month CLF was blessed to host Papa Playground’s annual Flag Football Banquet. Papa Playground is the name of our neighborhood recreation center. We became involved with them when a few of our members volunteered to be coaches and referees for their fall flag football league. Once we started helping out with flag football they asked us if we’d be willing to assist them with other services such as hosting the league’s annual banquet and we were more than happy to do so.
I was especially grateful for all the folks at CLF who volunteered to cook food, decorate, set up, serve and clean up once the event was over. I was all the more encouraged since this banquet came right on the heels of an annual Fall Festival community event we put on for neighborhood children and their families.
Consistent, proactive, community engagement is one of the core values of CLF. It’s my hope and prayer that every member will cultivate an attitude that moves them to adopt a lifestyle of service for a lifetime. I recently preached on Abraham’s prayer for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and after explaining how Jesus is the one righteous man who saves us from destruction I posed a question. I asked what might happen if we had ten people devoted to serving in our community on a regular basis? What if we had twenty people willing to do so? How about 30 or 40 or 50 or one hundred? How many people could we touch, how much of an impact could we have, how would our community be different if we had dozens of believers constantly investing their time and talents in the community where we worship?
I ask questions like these because I know what it means to do the church thing. Though I wasn’t raised in church by the grace of God I got saved at an early age (around 16). Upon getting saved I threw myself into the church scene and was heavily involved in church stuff during the first 14 years or so of my walk with the Lord before going into full-time ministry. I estimate that on any given week I probably spent between 10 and 12 hours outside of Sunday with church activity. That was also true of many of the good folks I was blessed to serve with. Moreover, not only were we encouraged to do this, but for the most part we were the ones many thought were among the most solid and mature. And it didn’t matter the church context. Whether Pentecostal or Presbyterian, heavy church involvement along with a few other things was considered the mark of mature Christianity.
During these years I almost never spent time contributing to the general welfare of my community or the community where my church was located. (that’s not to say that the churches I was involved with weren’t contributing to some of the essential needs of our community. As long as they were faithful to preaching the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ they were making a valuable and unique contribution to the well-being of their community) Reflecting on that time however I believe one of our problems was the attitude we took with the community. In effect we said ‘you know where we are (the big stone building on the corner) and if you want to get saved come on in’. We failed however to imitate the evangelism of Jesus and the apostles by consistently engaging our community by doing good. Looking back on this time in my life I’m astounded at the reality that two churches I belonged to and was heavily involved with (one Pentecostal, one Presbyterian) literally had hundreds of members with thousands of skills, abilities and talents most of which never saw the light of day within their own communities.
So I’m asking for your prayers. Since planting CLF I’ve longed to have a fellowship whose members view a lifestyle of service for a lifetime as central to their growth and maturity in the Lord. I’ve longed to see our members heavily invested in the life of the community we worship in. Praise the Lord we’re off to a good start with many of our folks eager to put these things into practice. Please pray that our Covenant Lord will bless our desire with concrete service so that the Name of Jesus Christ will be honored, revered and cherished and that His gospel floods West Philly like the waters cover the sea.
To Him Who Loves Us...