“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, The Message)
Sometimes we overthink church.
Take the word “ministry,” for example. If you’re getting your hair done downtown and the gal next to you says something like, “You know, so-and-so’s son is going into the ministry” … you’d never think to yourself, “Ah, he’s getting ready to shovel his elderly neighbor’s walk.” Truth is, we’ve ruined a perfectly good formula (and the word) by making it more complicated than it needs to be. Ministry = Jesus’ call + genuine need + our offering of time, talent, or treasure. 90% of the time, that’s it. Forget going to seminary. And forget about paying someone in a robe to do ministry for you. Just look around the neighborhood. Don’t overthink it.
Do like the Presbyterians in Enon Valley do. Once a month, they invite the whole village downstairs into their square social hall. No overthinking going on here: just a plate full of spaghetti and meatballs (for example), and 119 (this night) of their friends and neighbors. Churched folks, yes. They come. But also unchurched folks. Lots of folks. The mayor was here. A mechanic and his parents. A teenager comes in for a bite before rushing off to opening night in the school play. An Amishman. Kids running around. This is not a soup line. This feels more like someone’s dining room. Pass the butter and tell me what your grandkids are doing these days. What a blessing: an uncomplicated meal amid such complicated days.
All this started six years ago, when unemployment in their end of the county kicked into high gear. Folks were hurting, worried. Enon church decided a meal a week would be the right kind of blessing in that kind of time. It was. Remember: Jesus’ call + genuine need + our offering. Time went on, however, and some jobs came back around. That’s good. It was acknowledged that something weekly was not needed anymore. That’s good, too, in its own way. Yet by then, folks had discovered that the gathering would surely be missed if it went away altogether. So they’ve carried on. 100 folks a month can’t be wrong. One year, thanks to donations from the Presbys who help out, the total cost to the church budget to serve more than a thousand folks was a remarkable $2. How’s that for a ministry formula?
Jesus’ call + your community + meatballs … or whatever you think will be a blessing.
What ministry is the Holy Spirit nudging you to share in your #neighborhood? Don’t overthink it.