I remember about a year ago, my eyes were opened and my heart was softened to serve a specific way in my church. A beloved sister at my church had battled with cancer for a while and just recently went home to be with the Lord. What struck me is that I wasn't aware of this ongoing battle and that convicted me personally. I wanted to know who was suffering and who was ill in the church and find out ways I could serve them. But what was convicting was that I wasn't reaching out to my elders and fellow church members who know about those brothers and sisters who are ill and suffering in my local church.
Maybe you're in a place right now where you want to know how to serve in your local church and don't know where to begin. My hope is that this article ignites a fire within you to start serving (or continue to grow in serving) your local church by giving you 3 ways to serve—not through programs, but just being Christ's hands and feet!
A lot of non-believers that I've talked to have one thing in common: When asked about their experience going to church, they have said that absolutely no one talked to them. No one introduced themselves or asked if he or she were new. This should not be the case in the church. Fortunately, Faith Bible Church has been known to be a people who are hospitable and it is such a blessing. But this doesn't happen by accident, so we must continue intentionally reaching out to those around us!
In this time of isolation due to COVID-19, we are limited in our options of being hospitable, however, I’ve seen many FBC people getting creative. I’ve seen people drop gift baskets at other peoples doors. I’ve seen a “drive thru” baby shower for a couple at Faith and numerous people showed up to give gifts and show their love (at a distance of course). You could also send handwritten letters to encourage those you’ve built a relationship with at Faith. Get creative and find ways to encourage and serve the local body.
Create goals for when we are able to gather again. Here are few examples: Sit somewhere new each week at church. Find someone you don't know and greet them, if they are an unbeliever who is seeking, invite them to a lunch gathering with other believers. Let them see the unity and love that Christians have that they won't see anywhere else. If you are married, make it a priority with your spouse to invite someone over for dinner, once a month or twice a month and fellowship with them. If they are an unbeliever, ask the hard questions around the dinner table. Show them what it looks like to live in a God-honoring household. If they are a believer in your church, take this time to pray together and see where they are spiritually.
Hospitality doesn't need an official ministry, it's great if there is, but Christians should be the most hospitable people because God has showed us such great hospitality. 1 Peter 4:9 says, "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." Romans 12:13 says, "Contribute to the needs of the saint and seek to show hospitality." Saints, let's show the love of Christ in this way and be hospitable!
This is very important! Our elders/pastors and missionaries in our local church go through a lot more than we might think. You may have a preconceived notion that the leaders and missionaries in our local church are unstoppable forces who don't struggle with anything and that they have it all together. After all, they are leaders in our church, right? Wrong. We, as Christians, must make it a priority to be in prayer for our elders/pastors and missionaries of our local church. At Faith Bible Church all our missionaries whom we've sent out have prayer cards. Once we're back to meeting at the church building, you can go grab a few cards and use them to pray specifically for their needs. You can also receive weekly missionary prayer requests via email. Just contact Nathan Thiry to sign up for this email list!
As far as praying for your elders or pastors, I would encourage you to go to the elder's meetings and see what is going on behind the scenes at Faith. You may find out how to pray more specifically for the leaders of our church. Also, you can be intentional, and ask your leaders for yourself how you can be praying for them. If nothing else, you can be praying as they prep for Sunday Corporate Worship. They need ALL the prayers for that because preaching and teaching is a daunting task, along with other pastoral responsibilities, it can be challenging.
Like I said in my introduction, this is the one I am currently working on. There are numerous examples in the text of Scripture of Christ Himself caring for the weak, the sick, and the suffering. We must make this a priority. If there are any in your growth group who need help, start there. If not, ask an elder or pastor who is sick, who can't go to church because of a disability or is suffering in a real way. Make a prayer list of those people and bring them before the throne of grace and pray for them. Then, see what you can do to help.
In this time where it’s not easy to just go over their house, find ways to help and encourage from afar: Drop food off (at a safe distance), send them encouraging sermons that they can listen to or Spotify playlists to encourage them through songs and hymns. If there are financial needs that need to be met due to sickness and inability to work, pray about contributing financially. (Whether directly or through the Care Fund.)
You can also create goals for when we are able to gather and the restrictions are lifted. Whether it is bringing them food, doing chores for them, taking them to doctors appointments etc. You can bring them the recent FBC Weekly and sermon notes. There are numerous practical ways you can serve and care for the sick and suffering. But my encouragement is if you want to care for the sick, find out first who they are and then pray about how you can serve them.
This may be a short list, but in these 3 areas, there are innumerable ways you can serve your local church. I hope that you take at least one of these ways and see how you may be able to contribute by serving those at Faith Bible Church.