When you’re in ministry, there are days that seem like losses and there are days that seem like wins. Before you say it, as a good Calvinist, I know God is sovereign and He always wins. But it doesn’t mean the ebbs and flows of life in a fallen world don’t impact us. This is obviously true for anyone, in full time ministry or not. For me, when the day in question seem to affect something as large as the Kingdom of God and something as intimate as my faith in Christ, the losses can sting in ways that are hard to explain and the wins can encourage you in ways that are deep and profound. With that in mind, I am so very happy to say that this past Sunday was a win at Creekside. Why? Did a city wide revival break out? Did we see the church flooded with new families. No, none of these. It was a win because, in the words of a dear brother I respect, we as a church “went across the street”, literally and figuratively.
We went across the street literally in that we hosted a Block Party that consisted of taking our Spring Picnic, which we have done for years on our property and we moved it to the park that is within a couple fo blocks form our church. We did this so we could open it up to the neighborhood that borders the park and invite the folks there to join us. You might think this isn’t exactly rocket science. Clearly it is not. But life’s victories rarely consist of great feats of the miraculous as much as quieter acts of faithfulness. And the reality is, we did it. We moved an event that had historically been reserved for as an in-house event and we opened it up to people outside of our church family.
We also walked across the street figuratively because the neighborhood we were hosting does not fit in the typical demographic for our church. Again, I know, it’s 2014 and that’s hardly radical. But for us, the important think is again, we actually did it. Not just talked about it, not just dreamed about it, nor did we simply make plans to one day consider it. We did it and did it well. what did we do? We loved our neighbors as ourselves and that’s one reason why it was a win.
It was a win because it was the church family taking Luke 10 and actually doing it, being a good neighbor to people we all too often walk by but and pay no attention to. On this past Sunday, we were not the “priests” or the “Pharisees” hurrying past the neighborhood to get to church. Instead we took time to stop and get to know these folks, to put out games for their kids, to serve them a meal and to take time to say hello and to introduce ourselves as their neighbors. There was no hidden agenda, no sales job. When asked about the church, we invited them: “we have a VBS in a couple of months, bring your kids over”, or we “Worship at 10:30, we’d love to see you”. It was a thing of beauty.
In a world with so much hype and sales, it was an example of simple faithfulness to do what Jesus calls us to do. To reach out to love the people who “happen to cross our paths”. Again, as a good calvinist, i don’t believe any of that is accidental. We are here for a reason and a purpose. My hope is that this act of obedience will make the next one we are called to do that much easier to obey. I hope it will make it that much easier in the future for us, individually and corporately, to be hospitable to folks that are different from us. I hope it will make it that much easier to do it in our own neighborhoods where were are surrounded by people we often don’t know.
Put very simply, as a church family, we were obedient to what Jesus has called us to do. And that is always a win.