Serving on Sunday, part two
A trend in church life is congregations taking a Sunday and scattering throughout the community to serve. Most are doing it once a year. A few, like the church I’m part of, are doing it once per quarter. I’ve heard of at least one church doing it once a month. This week I saw an article about Rick Warren’s southern California mega-church Saddleback, taking a weekend called Good Neighbor day. I don’t think this is for every congregation and I don’t know that the congregation I lead will do it forever, but I think that a Faith in Action Sunday can be a powerful tool of cultivation in church and community.
A few weeks back I mentioned three reasons why to do it from the book Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in A Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker. Here is a bit of the reasoning and strategy behind Bridge Church’s quarterly FIA Sunday’s.
- The end goal of faith-filled disciples and missionaries. The Great Commission’s call is to make disciples. As a second journey church planter I begin to ask myself and others: “If I really wanted to make a disciple what would I do?” and “What was the greatest tool for spiritual growth in your life?” The answer was most often, ” Relationships and serving.” I was often disappointed when people didn’t recall my beautifully illiterated sermon as causing a spiritual growth spirt, but pointed to relationships with other Christians and ministry/mission opportunities as the greatest catalyst for growth. So, we begin to pray about how we could structure for relationships and mission, which led us to the idea of taking four Sunday’s a year for Faith in Action. Let me say: this is not a church growth gimic and definitely NOT a good strategy for church growth. If you’re goal is more attenders, DON’T do it, but the goal of producing faith-filled disciples who see themselves as missionaries caused us to rethink strategy and structure for serving a bit radically and non-traditionally.
- The other 60%. Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson write in their book On the Verge, that around 60% of the population is outside of the church’s reach. That the majority of churches are fishing out of the same pond which includes about 40% of the population. I’ve found this to be a trend in the area where I live and serve. A segment of our population is not attracted by or will most likely not be influenced by our current forms of church. What can we do to reach these people? One answer: Go to them. And as one part of an incarnational strategy of engagement in the hardest to reach areas, we seek to take church to them four Sunday’s per year. Somebody once said that to reach people nobody is reaching you need to do things nobody is doing. In our community we have some amazing churches offering professional worship music, incredible preaching by some unbelievable communicators and men of God, and a full service ministry menu for every day of the week. So we’ve got that covered. Our niche is to be the ground troops moving into difficult areas, bringing the gospel and making disciples/missionaries as we go. Faith in action Sunday serves as a great tool in this regard.
I’ve written about some reason NOT to do this here. In the next two posts on this subject, I’ll take on some of the frequently asked questions and criticisms for Serving on Sunday, like:
- It subverts the importance of preaching the Word of God.
- It hurts church growth by making things awkward and uncomfortable for newcomers, visitors, and the disconnected.
- “We can’t go a Sunday w/o taking an offering.”
- It promotes a liberal agenda of social action.
- “I can’t imagine how we would find enough for everyone to do around our community.”
- Some good ones offered here by Kevin DeYoung.
Then lay out a plan for putting together a Faith in Action Weekend, whether it’s on Sunday or not.