The previous month of January has been a trial of sorts in our London Missional Communities. We decided that we wanted to take a break from some of our regularly scheduled activities in order to keep things fresh. Trying new things can be hard in ministry. We don't know how the new things might be received, who will show up when we change, or what momentum might be lost. But, I believe it is worth the risk to see what God will do through the changes. Changes also do not automatically mean that leaders are unhappy with the current results.
Our Awaken Team feels strongly about emphasising worship, evangelism, and service in our communities. We hope to inspire men and women in their 20-30's to live their faith outside the walls of the church. In our case, the walls of the church often means outside of the comfort of a missional community home group. No matter where we may gather, if we desire to see the Kingdom brought into new areas, that means we must get out of our comfort zones. Don't get me wrong, a warm gathering spot for believers to encourage, love, and pray for one another is a great, necessary thing. I just want to remind us that our faith is not meant to live solely in these home groups, it is meant to live out in the world.
Each week this month we canceled both of our missional communities. We communicated to our groups that we want to do something different, so they should keep Thursday evenings open in their diary, but we were going to do some different service projects in our community as a way to bless some local missions who need help. The first week, we organised to help out at the local food bank. The second week, we organised a prayer walk up and down a couple high streets in our area of London. We believe that these changes in our programme were helpful in accomplishing our goal of living missionally, and helped teach each of us that meeting to serve can be just as beneficial as a Bible study. Again, I am all for studying God's Word in community, it is very necessary to our spiritual development. I just don't want to communicate that study is the only beneficial thing to do at a missional community.
During our first week at the food bank, we met a lovely staff team who was working overtime to sort all of the gifts given during the Christmas holiday. We stepped in alongside them after hours and spent our night sorting food by variety and expiration date so that the team the next day could hand out appropriate food bundles to men and women in need of groceries for the week. We left encouraged that we were not only serving alongside other believers doing Kingdom work, but that we were making a difference for those less fortunate neighbours in our community. The beautiful thing about God's Kingdom is that we had no previous relationship with the food bank. I searched them online and sent a vague email to an info@ email address asking if there were any needs we could meet. When we showed up, we were welcomed like family. We had such an encouraging time, and realised their need for volunteers was beyond what we could do in one night, that we stopped looking for other opportunities and dedicated the last two Thursday nights of the month to continue helping at the food bank.
All in all, I hope this story encourages you to think outside of the box, to try new things, and to realise the benefit that service projects make in your spiritual development. Don't feel stuck in the routine of your weekly Bible study. Feel free to try new things.
Joel Peabody (@joelpeabody) is a staff team member at Awaken Movement UK. He currently lives in Wanstead, London, UK with his wife, Allison. His hobbies include music and golf. He has recently switched to skinny trousers and isn’t turning back.