Three or four times a year, we attempt to mobilize our whole church to serve our community. Whether it’s through relief work after a major storm or doing an “extreme makeover” of a local soup kitchen in 24 hours, these have been some of the proudest days of my entire life. They are a lot of work to pull off, but I wish more churches would experience the benefits that come from serving together.
Recently, our church hosted a 5K for the clean water cause. We had 2,000 people participate with us — that represents about 80 percent of our Sunday morning attendance. The whole day it was threatening to rain, but it held off so we could have some fun for a good cause. As we put this project to bed, I am again amazed that more churches don’t attempt this sort of thing.
Here are some benefits that I see from a mass mobilization effort like this:
1. Get Out of Your Seats. I love seeing our church get out of our seats and onto the streets. Something magical happens when we get out from behind the walls of our services and into the community. Events like this force us to directly engage with the public we are attempting to reach — not just on the day of the event, but in the months leading up through the prep. It moves us from “come and see” to “go and show.”
2. Different Leaders. Every time we do these sorts of events, it’s fun to watch a different set of leaders step up and help. There are people that will give themselves to a large project like this who aren’t interested (or available) to serve on a normal serving rotation. These leaders have added so much to the life of church — we’d be missing out without them.
3. Good Thing versus God Thing. There is a segment of people who will engage with us on community events like this that won’t connect with us through our normal Sunday services. In fact, we’ll have hundreds of first-time guests participate in these events in one way or another — way more than any really cool series. It’s not lost on me that these large-scale community service events seem to be amazing first exposure and front door experiences for new people to our church.
4. Fights Against Organizational Silos. As we grow as a church, I have an increasing concern about the silos that are naturally starting to build. Each of our various departments starts to gain its own culture and approach to leadership that is necessary to build momentum in any given area. Some of this siloing is inevitable with a growing organization. Mass outreaches force people from across the organization to work together on tangible outcomes and break down some of these silos.