View Full Version : Serving God through the church and without the church

04-20-2011, 02:01 AM
I'm perceiving a change in my life. Not quite sure of all the details but after serving for many, many years, in various ways, in and through the church, I'm pondering taking a a new path. Trying to hear God on this.

I so enjoy and and am blessed to serve in the areas I do but can't deny the excitement of the possibility to serve with orders and opportunities straight from the Lord. Not mapped out with the typical structure that comes from the church. (I'm not bashing it at all) Freeing my day to move this way or that, because I hear the Lord directing and because I have the time to do so. Like the Disciples, just going out with Jesus, not knowing what is coming around the corner, learning and serving each day. Knowing Jesus through purposed events He directs.

This way of being is not foreign, however, with dedicated serving time, h.s.ing, and life in general, organic serving comes far and few between.

Is this your life? Are you a 'free agent' to go hither and yon at a moment's notice because you are freed up for the most part? I'd like to hear what this looks like, if you wouldn't mind sharing.

Gwen in Texas
04-20-2011, 02:10 PM
I don't know anyone who floats through each day, waiting for a word from God on how to serve. I know my family would get really hungry, the laundry would accumulate, and no school would get done!

I can tell you that in different seasons of my life, I have adjusted my structured "church" service time in order to serve where God has me. Right now all I do is serve on the worship team every other week. Period. And I'm the pastor's wife! I serve my family by working two part time jobs, being the mom and wife, homeschooling two of my children, and taking care of our home life. I also am hands-on involved with my terminally ill, recently widowed mother.

Is that what you are talking about?

shonda in ca
04-20-2011, 02:42 PM
What a tender heart you must have!
I believe the highest calling a wife and mother can have is to be a wife and mother. The whole thing is just steeped in service and sacrifice, isn't it?

Not sure, if I am quite understanding your question, as we are all "free agents" and have free will to accept assignments from a sturcture or not or to act upon the whisperings of the Holy Ghost to serve others in our sphere of influence on our own. :)

I don't know your situation, so I am just looking at your question through my own lens, kwim? May not apply to you at all. :)

04-20-2011, 02:50 PM
Is this the kind of thing you mean??

My husband is a Chapter President for the local chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. This organization is totally independent of any church. Their goal is to bring Christ to the motorcycling community. This can occur in many ways. A few examples: passing out toiletries kits to bikers at Sturges; working security at biker events; running a family church service at Sunday morning dirt-bike races; attending open house events at local motorcycle dealers.

Each chapter is autonomous in choosing the type of events they want to take part in. (There is only one yearly event that all chapters participate in- Run for the Sun- a fundraiser that supports 3 world-wide ministries and CMA's home offices.) Members are encouraged to reach out to others in any way that an opportunity presents itself- helping someone with roadside assistance, asking a waitress if she has any needs they can pray for, inviting a biker at the gas pump to join them on weekly rides. Members are encouraged to always wear their "colors" (vest with back-patch) to identify them as Christian, so there is no doubt who gets the credit for their good deeds.

They purposely avoid ever meeting in churches or identifying with a particular church. Many people avoid "church" but are open to Christ, and churches often have doctrines that are roadblocks to many people.

The spiritual growth in my dh since he got involved with CMA has been huge. I would NEVER think that "ministry" must be connected to "church".

04-20-2011, 03:17 PM
A friend of mine (along with her husband and children) do service project with a large (mega) church in the area, but do not attend church, per se. I found her reasoning behind it interesting. They do not "forsake the assembling" at all, but simply do not worship/hear preaching from a pastor.

If it works for you, do it.

04-20-2011, 08:03 PM
We have very few committments and up to a month ago we had none. We recently got our son involved in Cub Scouts but this this the only thing we signed up to do on a continuous basis. We rarely go to church too, preferring to teach at home in our our way.

I also agree that mothering and homeschooling is a good calling. If you are asking if you should free up your schedule so you can pursue more spontaneous service projects, I would be all for that. It benefits your family too IMO.

I think we have to be really careful, as mothers, not to overschedule our days and weeks. It's so easy to think that since we don't have an outside job to report to that we have plenty of time, but in reality we don't. Something or someone will suffer.

04-20-2011, 10:24 PM
Wendy- thanks for sharing. This is what I was looking for-what it looks like in someone else's life at the moment. Not asking for permission or if I should do it. I'm waiting on the Lord for that part :) And that kind of spontaneous serving is what I meant. (thanks for the words, Cori!) There's just not enough time in my day for that and I'm not even booked to the hilt! I purposely don't make my schedule busy but things.take.time. Discipline takes time. Teaching a child how to do this and that-not even talking of academics-takes time.

Gwen: No, I didn't see myself floating through the day. Not what I meant. What I did see as something God might use was to be more involved in the lives of our neighbor kids (not limited to, though,) who have a very, very hard family life and parents who are practically non-existent. (don't plan on taking their place but perhaps make available to the parents the things they can participate in at church, mens's groups etc. if that works for them. if not, then just being the hands of Jesus as I'm led.) This is currently limited (and I would love to see it where I can just take an hour or two or three out of my day) because I had to get ready to 'go' serve. Perhaps the serving would be right here in my own neighborhood. However I was curious about others and if this is their experience.

Shonda-thanks for hearing my heart :0 By 'free agent' I just meant that I was not tied to an 'already set in stone how to do ministry' ministry. I do have time to do little things in my 'off' time but I'm wondering if perhaps the time might be coming where the bulk of my time is available for spontaneous service, not having the worry of having to be somewhere else and therefore being able to be really present and serving right where I'm at.

04-20-2011, 10:38 PM
Oh yes, your own neighborhood would be fabulous! There is also Love, Inc. which sends out emails when they need a helping hand for a project. This way you can pick and choose what works for you without a long time commitment.

Jodi B
04-21-2011, 07:46 AM
:yes: I've been on this journey for a couple of years now ... what should the church look and act like? Some things I have read/studied include:

* Detailed (35-40 week) study of the Book of Acts
* Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church (http://www.amazon.com/Missional-Renaissance-Scorecard-Jossey-Bass-Leadership/dp/0470243449/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303389333&sr=1-1) by Reggie McNeal -- this really helped with shifting the focus to a missional one (which is what you are doing!) from a programmatic, numbers-driven one.
* Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality (http://www.amazon.com/Mere-Churchianity-Finding-Jesus-Shaped-Spirituality/dp/0307459179/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303389427&sr=1-1) by Michael Spencer
* Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (http://www.amazon.com/David-Platt-Radical-Taking-American/dp/B004SHZEXO/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303389494&sr=1-10) by David Platt

The last two books have helped me better articulate the issues I am having with the American churches, especially moreso having come out of a very liberal, social-justice gospel driven church/denomination. I am in a church where we are figuring out and implementing missional model (the Lord placed us in a community which desperately needs His love and His hope). :thumb:

Being a wife and mother are my highest callings right now, and the Lord has helped me let go of a lot of stuff, specifically in the homeschool activity arena and my part-time college teaching gig. While I am a Ruling Elder in my EPC church, I am also learning that it's not just about busyness, nor is it only about performing good works -- we need to be under sound teaching, we need to be discipled, constantly learning and maturing, and producing fruit from our faith.

04-22-2011, 06:24 PM
Thanks, Jodi. I'm interested in checking out those titles!

04-22-2011, 07:08 PM
I think I am understanding what you are seeking.

We have not had a "church building" in 4 years. No, I never ever thought I would see us out of the building. But we had twins, and our two babies along with a strong conviction about not worshiping separate from our children, left us without a building. I can't say without a church, because we are part of a strong body of believers within our homeschooling group. We also watch church service at home.

I have gone through the gamut of emotions...guilt, sadness, guilt, searching for a new building, guilt...you get the picture. Through it all what I do know was the Lord had several key things for us to learn. One, that his people are the body. The church is not a structure. Two, that sometimes when we are separate from church building ordained ministries we can truly hear him. Now, I am not saying those within the body are not hearing Him, just saying it was definitely a distraction for me that I didn't realize until I was out of the building.

I do feel very free-spirited as far as serving where God has me day-to-day. It can look like so many things...making a dinner for someone, a batch of cookies, a long phone call that is much needed, getting together with someone that needs help organizing their school year, buying a few things for someone that needs it (sometimes I tell moms I have two of something so that I can give it to them without them feeling they owe me), reaching out to a mom who feels disconnected, inviting a few ladies over for coffee to connect them or their children, etc...In 2 weeks I am helping a mom re-grout her tile counters.

I LOVE just being available to hear what the Lord has for me. And I never feel as though it is something that takes me from family, but instead something that my family can usually be personally involved in.

Melissa Crabtree
04-22-2011, 07:55 PM
I am involved in serving in our disability ministry that is a part of our church, but I remember making the comment before (when I was involved in two other ministries as well) that I was so busy going to church I didn't have time to be the church! That had nothing to do with Sunday mornings and Bible Study - I don't want to give those up at all, rather meetings for VBS, meetings for SS teachers, etc. All of the programs require so much structure and administration that I had no time to go plant flowers for an elderly lady who might need it. I couldn't serve with my children because we were do tired from dragging to places all week we just wanted to stay home! I've learned it's okay to say no to meetings. If they would like to find another Sunday School teacher because this one won't go to meetings, feel free! ;) I did make it clear to them what my reasoning was and they were quite supportive.

04-23-2011, 12:00 PM
Here's another book: The Missional Mom (http://www.amazon.com/Missional-Mom-Living-Purpose-World/dp/0802437869/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303577916&sr=8-1).

Over the past few years I've really begun to understand that the church is more than a brick building. I, along with my dh and kids, try to be more active in others' lives in order to serve and encourage them. That's what the original church did.

This is the first year in many years that I'm not coordinating VBS. We are also pulling out of Sun and Wed night programming at church in order to have more family time. By doing so, we are free as a family to be more sensitive to God's leading for our lives during this season.

04-23-2011, 07:39 PM
Nedra, Melissa, and Melinda (I've got 2 SIL's Melissa and Melinda!)

Thanks so much for your perspective! It put a huge smile on my face. 'I'm understood!'

I've been so excited about what the future might hold and this was exiting to hear.

Oh, and what's so funny....the other day we were watching 'Father Knows Best' and Margaret got involved with this family. First, a man came by selling furniture and before you know it she bought a framed picture she didn't need or want, gave a bag of cookies to him, gave clothes Kathy had outgrown, took in their wash, hung wall paper, drove the daughter to an interview, and bought some fuses for their home. These people never asked her to do any of it, she just volunteered. Jim and Betty kept saying they were taking advantage of her and she disagreed. ( I was getting a bit furious myself, and then did a check and the end of the movie) The man was so grateful that he made a chaise lounge for Margaret. Then at church today for the Eggstravaganza I did the same thing!!! I felt just like Margaret. I felt this was a picture of just 'being' and jumping in when needed, because I'm able to, timewise. The desire is there, just not always the time. yeah!!! It was so cool the way that happend. All that to say Margaret was 'free to be sensitive to God's leading' as Melinda said.
Thanks, ladies!