52 SUNDAYS: What About Serving Our City?

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This year we're challenging our members and regular attenders to attend a church service every week in 2014. You can read more about the 52 SUNDAYS challenge here. This article is part of a series of articles about 52 SUNDAYS.

What about serving our city?

Have you heard about the churches who cancel Sunday services to go out and serve their cities? It's a popular strategy right now. Call it "Good Neighbor Weekend", or "Operation Get Out and Serve", or "My kids Will Scratch Your Lexus For Free Car Wash". Seriously. That's what I'm thinking when I see a free car wash.

Good intentions.

Nobody is going to argue about mobilizing the church to love their city. Let's shower them with compassion, kindness, and love...and not do it as a cheesy bait and switch routine! You don't need to follow up every nice thing you do with an invitation to "accept Jesus into your heart." You can just help the old lady across the street.

The same thing goes for individuals. You loving your neighbors. You volunteering at a local program. You doing what you can to relieve some of the pain, poverty, and injustice in our community. These are good works. Please do them. Find your place to be an agent of God's benevolence in this world. It glorifies God.

Bad choices.

That said, we won't be planning any "Good Neighbor Sundays." This isn't a mandate to shut down churches that do, but I want to offer 4 reasons why I believe the impulse to serve has led to the poor choice of skipping corporate worship.

  1. We have low expectations. If you knew (really knew!) God was going to show up at church, would you lock the doors and send everyone out to pick up litter instead? Of course not.
  2. We are consumers. Sundays are about being served rather than serving and this misses the point all together. Our corporate worship is a "service" for God. Yes, we need Him. Yes, we serve one another. But yes, we also serve God. He is the main consumer of our Sunday service.
  3. We don't expect guests. It's easy to cancel a meeting when you know who's coming. Even easier when you haven't invited any guests. And even easier when you think the only way you are going to reach your neighbors is by leaving church and painting their fence.
  4. We are busy. If the only time you have to serve others is Sunday mornings, you might need to make some hard choices. Take inventory and set priorities. Loving our neighbors and church on Sundays aren't competing interests.

Best scenario.

Here's a goal worth aiming for. Let's be such good neighbors all week long that our city shows up on Sundays to find out why.