What is the most important thing we can do over the next five years?
A dark thought came into my [Charlie] mind the other day – “What if this church never gets established; and, after five years of labor, we have to move on to something else?” We’ve made a commitment to this work, and we wholeheartedly believe it will prove fruitful in establishing churches in Fairfield County. However, thinking of possible negative outcomes brought clarity as we begin our work.
A defining passage in my life is Mark 10.35-45, and we hope to embed this principle of service into the foundation of our church. When James and John ask Jesus for seats of honor, Jesus reminds them that Christian ethics are counter to the power systems of the world.
Worldly institutions consume power, honor, and glory for themselves. They strive to establish themselves as the first, the biggest, and the greatest. Then, with all the power they accumulate, they fight to maintain their position against any and every threat.
Jesus taught his over-zealous followers, James and John, in the presence of their offended companions, the other 10 apostles, that this is the opposite of His ethic. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Jesus came not to consume, but to contribute. Jesus came not to protect himself, but to offer himself as a sacrifice (Mark 10.45).
What does an ethic of service mean for a church? For us, we’ve realized that we need to partner with existing organizations and make ourselves available to serve. By offering our time, talent, and treasure to these communities, we hope the impact of our ministry will be long-lasting – maybe even longer lasting than the impact of the community we came here to start.
It still makes me shudder to think that this whole project may not come to fruition the way we hope it will. However, it’s extremely clarifying to come face-to-face with Jesus’ reminder that service is the way of the kingdom. We weren’t called to Fairfield County to be served, but to serve and to give ourselves on behalf of others.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve met with three incredible organizations who are laboring in difficult demographics. The Malta House is working to provide the dignity and resources necessary for pregnant women without consistent housing to have a positive pregnancy, labor and postpartum experience. Straight Ahead Ministry is working within the juvenile justice system to divert teens from incarceration, rehabilitate those who are incarcerated, and help those coming out of incarceration to assimilate into society. Operation Hope is meeting the tangible needs of the often unseen and overlooked hungry and homeless in our area.
I don’t know if we will “succeed” in establishing a church over the next five years. But I do know that we will consistently offer our time, talent, and treasure on behalf of others. Prayerfully, we will hear a “Well done, good and faithful servants” whenever all is said and done. It seems the most important thing we can do while we are here is serve.
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10.43-45, ESV).