Posted by Mohan Karulkar:
Detroit happens to be in the middle of a revival. It might not seem like it from the outside, but living, working, and serving in the area exposes you to a palpable, contagious hope.
In the week leading up to Easter, my church participated in a nationwide movement called Servolution, during which we saw our community of Real Church, among others, mobilized to dispense love, hope, and grace to the city of Detroit and surrounding areas.
The thing about a community is that, given the right conditions, it can be shaped into a critical mass, waiting to be set loose for God’s purposes. It takes like-mindedness, selflessness, and a commitment to change, but given those conditions, communities can take a single idea and change the world with it.
Let’s talk a little bit about community today, and how to ignite the critical mass in the name of grace and love.
WHO IS YOUR COMMUNITY?
You’re not captain, president, supervisor, or head of anything, which pretty much means you’re out of luck when it comes to inspiring a community to action, right?
In short: look left, look right – and there’s your community. Your church, small group, family, coworkers, classmates, neighbors, and friends are all communities you can mobilize. Heck, you might even be a leader in some of those communities. But the beauty of a critical mass is that you don’t have to be the leader to affect action within it – you only need to be contagious. And that can happen regardless of your level of influence (just ask a mosquito with malaria).
So develop your ideas – your vision – for mobilizing your communities, through prayer and wise council. Make them sticky through the SUCCESS method: a Simple, Unexpected, Credible, and Emotional Story (Thanks Malcolm, Chip, and Dan). Share your ideas with others, and watch them spread. (And yes, stickiness could be an entire post by itself. Let’s tackle it in the comments for now.)
WHO CAN YOU SERVE?
Once you’ve got a community poised for action with a good idea, it’s time to start serving. A great way to serve is to go straight to hurting people – the man outside the bakery, the widowed neighbor, the boy who sits alone at lunch, etc. However, there’s something to be said for access, and we don’t always have immediate access to people in need. There’s also something to be said for resources, which can certainly be a roadblock to reaching otherwise accessible people.
Fortunately, both access and resources are available through partnerships with the people already invested in the environment around you: city government, influential businesses, and key charities all provide partnership opportunities that are more straightforward than you might realize. Hospitals, libraries, the Parks department, bakeries, soup kitchens, and Adopt-a-Highway programs are great places to start. They can provide access to neglected people and places that are aching for grace. They can also provide resources like volunteer opportunities, donated food, work equipment, and even funding.
HOW TO SERVE?
This is a simple, but key point. Organizations in need are not always consistent, predictable, or organized. Luckily, servants are not demanding or dictating, but humble, flexible, eager, forgiving, and patient. When you approach potential partners, offer your community, but be ready for them to define the service. Have ideas, but be ready to scrap them. Show up prepared, but be ready for plans to change.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether slave or free. (Ephesians 6: 7-8)
We are free on Earth, but we are slaves to Christ, who was humble above all else. Remember that as you mobilize your community to spread His love and grace.
So what was our “single idea” that we used to dispense grace on the environment around us? Simple: every day, for 7 days, we threw our community behind service projects that directly benefited the people of Detroit and Hamtramck, the locations of Real Church’s two campuses. Through actions that included renovating police stations to handing out bread to manning carnival games and bounce houses, our community spread the message of God’s love and grace to children and adults alike.
And please, understand that the point isn’t to brag on my church, or even my city, but to inspire you to ask, “Why not my community?”
So let’s talk about it:
- Who are your communities?
- Who are you potential partnerships?
- What are your ideas?
- What ideas have been successful for you?
Use the comment space to bounce your thoughts off each other, and maybe even discover the spark that ignites your critical mass!
(top photo: Stephen McGee)