One of the biggest adjustments in my life this year has been searching for ways I can serve here, in my own community. I have had the privilege of serving all over the world with missions, now with this new season in my life, I’m praying for opportunities to serve right here where I live. Honestly, it’s been a big challenge for me watching my mission-hearted friends planning their trips and teams to travel to the countries I love, but now more than ever, I want to be an encouragement and support to their mission adventures. The last thing in the world I want to put in my heart is jealousy, envy, or resentment. When those three things start to grow, anger roots its ugly head and I want NO part of that mess!
“Ordinary people who are naturally drawn to the comforts of the American dream can be converted to a radical faith in a radical Savior.” David Platt
You want to start serving in your community, but you don’t really know how or where to start. You want to make a difference in your community, but you don’t really know what to do. Discovering what breaks your heart is the perfect place to start praying that God will reveal your heart-beat. We all have different gifts, talents, and passions. What do you think about, read about, dream about and become spiritually emotional about? In Matt. 25, it talks about loving people regardless where they are in life. It doesn’t matter where you live, once you understand your God-heart-beat, it will make it simple for you to find services or ministries in your church and community. Click here for another blogger’s heart for serving her community.
Praying is the perfect place to start serving your community. Ask God to open doors and have a willing heart to walk through those doors.
Find the cause that makes you feel most passionate:
- If I wanted to start serving locally, I’d look on social media, search through the web, look for articles in your area written about organizations or people who are presently caring or serving in the area you’re interested in. Email or call the organization letting them know what gifts/talents you can offer on a volunteer service and see what they have available. Be open minded which in turn is open-hearted to serve in the simplest way. Maybe you’ll begin serving by cooking, cleaning, organizing, answering the phone, or even running errands but be willing to do this joyfully.
- Avoid unnecessary whispers (gossiping) and grumbling (disagreeing with what they’ve asked you to do). The staff at non-profits work endless hours and need “atta girl & atta boy” volunteers. Volunteer in such a way they can respond with “Atta Girl/Boy. Also, you serving and verbally encouraging the staff at non-profits and volunteers will fuel the organization in accomplishing goals. Many think giving/volunteering to an organization is by just serving or giving financially. Perhaps one of the best ways you can volunteer is to spread words of encouragement throughout the organization and be a cheerleader for them in the community. What a thought?! That is worth gold to any organization. -Julie Higgins, founder of the ministry IPourLife
3 ways we can serve locally in our community:
- Look at your passion and see how you can connect with a local organization to help. This can be long term or as “extra hands” at an event or on a project on a short term basis.
- Secure a list from your local chamber or ministerial alliance of non-profits who might have needs.
- Contact your church and find out what their ministry opportunities are. –Sue Head, Dean of Character Education at College of the Ozarks and founder of Loaves and Fishes feeding program
3 things to avoid when serving locally:
- Adopt a posture of service and don’t try to tell folks how to run their ministry or outreach. Usually, there are good reasons why they do things the way they do.
- Be careful to not use “Christian-ese” when serving the those in poverty. Often they do not event know the terms we use, especially if they have never been in church.
- Be sure that your actions and speech are not full of judgement; rather, use LOTS of GRACE when serving those in need. –Sue Head
Our family has started serving with a homeless feeding program called, Freeway Ministry. They are feeding almost 1,000 men, women, and youth in our community every Saturday, as well as programs throughout the week. They are making a huge difference sharing food and the gospel to the locals who are lost. We want our 3 children to experience serving out-loud, hands-on! You can’t escape the problem in your community and pretend it’s not really there, when it’s staring you right in the face. The best encouragement I can give you as you start serving locally in your community is that your life will change, and you’ll never be the same. God will open radical doors for you to love and serve big! We serve a radical Savior and He inspires us throughout His Word in literally hundreds of verses how important it is to love one another and serve one another. It’s not about us.
Next week, I can’t wait to share 3 ways we can encourage missionaries here, there, and everywhere.
How are you serving locally in your community … share your ideas in the comments.