I am excited to see more “risk-taking mission and service“; however, the church continues to hold many people back. The church will best succeed in developing “fruitful congregations” if it supports those with a desire to reach out into the community and the world.
Risk-taking mission and service is the fourth of Bishop Robert Schnase’s Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. It is an area that I yearn to grow in. Perhaps that is why when as a college student I spent six months in Kenya. While at the time I was afraid to travel the country on my own, Kalamazoo College gave me the opportunity to be a part of a study abroad program that provided opportunities to live in different parts of the country. It was this experience that opened my eyes to the world and the need to build greater connection between peoples.
However, one does not need to travel the world in order to engage in risk-taking mission and service. There are plenty of opportunities for service in our local communities. Cold weather months will soon be upon us if they are not already in your neighborhood. Many churches open their doors to the homeless and provide a warm place to spend the night as well as three meals. Hillcrest UMC in Nashville, Tenn., where I attend, is one of those places that welcomes guests once each week. In partnership with other congregations, all nights of the week are covered. Volunteers are needed to prepare meals and stay the night with the guests.
I have helped in this program when attending Belmont UMC, also in Nashville. It is a good way to sit down and have a conversation with persons you may not otherwise be able to talk to. Sitting around a dinner table is a much more comfortable place to engage in this conversation then on the streets. However, I want to warn you about the risks. You may learn about other areas where your service is needed. Don’t be afraid. Gather others in your congregation and engage in mission.