Yesterday I posted about how we need to get our folks to see our outreach in the community not so much as “serving” but as part of the whole theology of “sending.” Well, I came across this from the Verge, which lists, among the “Five Mistakes that Will Destroy Your Church’s Effectiveness,” PROMOTE COMMUNITY SERVICE. And I think they make a good point:
How would someone in your church describe your local missions efforts? Would they point to community service days, neighborhood clean up efforts, or clothing and food drives. When this is the case, people tend to think of service as an event, with a start and an end. Once the event is over, so is their service and they are left with a good feeling to carry them through the rest of the week. What motivates their action?
If people are serving their community because they want to “give back” then they will automatically assume a position of superiority over the one they are serving. This is not only unbiblical, but can be dehumanizing. The advantage, and dare I say appeal, of most community service is that it actually costs very little of us. It doesn’t impact our budget or our daily lives all that much. Once it is over, we can go back to the way we were before the event.
We often reference the story of the Good Samaritan as our example, but most of our efforts fall woefully short of this example Jesus offers to describe how to love our neighbor.