Serving is not always easy but serving with others is always rewarding. Jesus even went so far as to say when we serve others, it is as if we are serving him and in that reality, service becomes something intensely spiritual.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25:34–40 (ESV)
For the past few years, a few of our Journey Kidz! volunteers have provided an opportunity for elementary-aged children to grow in their understanding of faith and relationship with Christ on Wednesday nights. It’s called “KidsTime” because it’s time just for them…catchy, isn’t it!
Over the summer, as families come and go for vacations, camps, and time with their families, our volunteers opted to have a “Summer of Service” instead of just taking a few weeks off. Last night, their act of service was to pass out bottles of cold water to whoever they ran into at Coolidge Park. For this particular event, our youth decided to join us.
The plan was simple, our kids had decorated stickers that said “Jesus Loves You” and attached 1 sticker per unopened bottle of water. They would simply walk through the park, hand out water to anyone who was interested, talk to whoever was open, and then would spend the rest of the night playing in the fountain if they wanted.
As Deidra and I pulled into the park, we were so excited to see the small crowd gathering by the fountain, ready to go to work. In short, it was a great night and even though some rain cut it short, it was a huge success! Here are some of my takeaways from the night that I believe are significant.
1. We are blessed with incredible children and youth volunteers who not only pour their time and resources into our most precious resource, but they are doing it in tangible ways that are making a difference in their lives.
2. Serving others only feels burdensome when we do it alone and we are motivated by the praise of others. Serving Christ by serving others is something completely different! No matter what kind of response you get, you can be confident that Jesus sees your effort and rewards you for it.
And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” – Matthew 10:42 (ESV)
3. This generation of kids, youth, and young adults are more interested in tangible expressions of their faith than previous generations. They see the heartache and brokenness in the world and are compelled to act. It is up to all of us to come alongside them, serve with them, and channel that energy in ways that can bring real change in communities.
4. No matter how old you are, an enormous fountain of water is just begging for you to jump in!
5. Even simple gestures make an impact. I doubt anyone made the decision to follow Christ because of one of these bottles of water. It did lead to some interesting conversations and it did have the potential to change someone’s opinion about faith and the church, especially in a time when the church has so much bad press.
6. There is nothing greater than doing life with people that love each other and love Jesus. There is a difference in those relationships. I wish all people in the church could experience it. You can’t show up late, sit through a service, leave early, AND experience this type of community. It takes time, investment in relationships, and regular proximity. This is one of the primary reasons I am still in ministry after 20 years. I love the people we do life with at Journey.
7. Service doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. We sometimes fail to serve unless we think a small investment of time and/or resources will make a big impact. If we perceive that making a real difference only happens with a large investment of time and/or resources, we may put it off indefinitely. Instead, regular acts of service are transformative, not just in the lives of others, but in our own lives as followers of Christ.
8. As I get older, I value service opportunities that include multiple generations working together. The model of the modern church is to split everyone up…kids with kids…ladies with ladies…men with men…senior citizens with senior citizens…students with students…and so on. I think we lose something beautiful when we stop letting children serve with adults, students with senior citizens, men and women together, and families serving together.
Our ‘Summer of Service’ has 2 more service events left. On July 11th, we will be cleaning the Journey Kidz! classrooms together. On July 18th, we will be packing up all of the food that has been collected for the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. We will be delivering that food on Sunday, July 22nd after church. These opportunities are planned not only for elementary-aged kids, but their entire families, so I hope you will join us!
Thank you to all of our faithful and giving children and youth leaders and volunteers for leading our children well!