"We were going around in Houston in boats, picking people out of the water. Nobody looked at the other people and said 'Hey, are you saved? You filled with the Holy Ghost? I need to know before getting you out of the water!' No! We just went to them, got them out of the water. Get them on the boat! You can talk about that stuff once they are there! Just get them in the boat!"
Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to head to the ARC conference, of which our church is a part of. I can't begin to explain how needed it was. There were questions I was asking myself the last couple of months, wondering what our story was going to unfold like. We've got a great team of people, a band that is so much better than most of the churches I've been to, a safe, secure, clean, and fun children's ministry led by a guy who is incredible at what he does, and in our youth, its easy to not see the whole story.
And then I heard a sermon by a guy that I had somewhat discredited (anyone else do that for no reason? No, just me? Ill see myself out...) named John Gray. John is coming to Greenville to take over and begin Relentless Church (side note, LOVE the name of this church) and one of the things he spoke on busted my heart wide open: Loving and serving people.
John is from Houston, Texas, and was in the middle of the incredible flooding that happened last year. Families and businesses are going to still be recovering for years. It was absolute destruction. As he spoke about how people were rescuing each other, people they didn't know, it became apparent that those people had no issue with qualifying those in pain and need before they rescued them. I specifically remember him speaking about so many qualifiers that some of us 'church people' use to paint the neglected out of the walls on Sunday.
On the way home, Lane and I began listening to a few of the other breakouts, referred to as App Sessions, and stumbled upon one about culture. The pastor pointed out something incredible: He was watching a rapper named Logic perform, and at the end of his set, he looked out to the crowd of tens of thousands of people and told them that we must be unified! We must love each other. We must see our neighbors and ourselves, and find ways to lift each other up! Its the only way we will survive. And then he said something that continued to wreck the opening in my heart placed by other speakers at the conference: The people there were cheering loudly in agreement, and what had happened was the Gospel was preached to them, minus Jesus.
Think about that. The Gospel. minus Jesus.
It doesn't work. It can't. The Gospel IS Jesus. It IS redemption. It IS forgiveness. It IS unity. It IS the golden rule. It IS Love. And yet, here is a rapper proclaiming that very thing: The Gospel minus Jesus.
Let me tell you what that did in my heart. I looked at Lane and I said to her "This is it. This is our problem we must solve: we cannot let this happen in our town. We have to be a place where people get all of those things, but they get them because of Jesus. How do we do that?"
We had been toying around with how we wanted to make a dent in our community (in a good way) and finally settled on some framework: Second Saturday and OneforOne.
Now, we are a church, so obviously we have to have a catchy name for stuff like this, but Second Saturday is easy to remember, and OneforOne is repetitive which I like, so there you go. We asked ourselves what these will be. What will they honestly look like? What could we do that would meet people right where they are, without forcing Jesus or Trailside Church in their face, where we can love people?
And so it was born.
So all of this to say this: in just a few short weeks, we are going begin these 2 major outreach efforts into our community. Second Saturday is pretty easily diagnosed: On the second Saturday of each month, we are going to go into the community for a few hours and simply love people. Maybe that will be cleaning a house or yard work. Could mean passing out water on the trail to people who are walking/riding/running, whatever. Maybe it looks like offering breakfast. Or a class. Paying for people to do laundry. Here is the beauty of it: it can look like whatever you want it to as long as it is aimed at loving and serving the people of our city for the sake of the Gospel.
If it brings unity, if it brings love; if it brings a sledgehammer to knock down a racially divided wall, or if it looks like helping to make a garden a little more beautiful for an aging couple to enjoy together, we are in. We won't accomplish everything right away, but we will be known for loving and serving our community until it hurts.
Our OneforOne is similar: Each week, we are going to take the number of people who attend our service, and we are going to take one dollar for every person who came and worshipped and bless someone in our community. You'll hear what we did, how it impacted, and why its important to us.
Jesus showed us a clear picture: you don't qualify people to get in the boat when they are drowning. Truth be told, some of the people we hope to serve may not be drowning at all. They may be spiritually drowning and have no clue; The reality is this: We've been called to be like Jesus to the people He has placed us in contact with, and that is just what Trailside Church is going to do.
While healing the leper, who was untouchable and who by law wasn't allowed to approach any clean person, Jesus simply looked at him, healed him and told him that he was healed. He didn't ask questions. He didn't qualify the leper; He didn't need to. Jesus met him where he was in his pain, and loved him in the way only Jesus knows how.
At Trailside, we want to be relentlessly working on our impression of being like Jesus. His mannerisms, His love. His care and concern for others, His seemingly reckless and yet perfect and purposeful love.
We are going to work hard on our Jesus impression. I'd welcome the opportunity for you to join us. Simply head over to https://www.facebook.com/events/368676190298019/ and click that you'd like to come! We will be sending out updates in the weeks prior to our event with details. We look forward to having you!