July 1, 2011
We were sitting around Fort Simcoe on a beautiful Friday evening. Hot dogs were cooking on the grill, laughter was in the air, the cold breeze was perfect for cooling down after a long day. It was a great way to end a busy week. Our company was the young men and women from all over the country who were visiting the Yakima Nation. They worked for a government agency called Ameri-Corp or NCCC, you may have heard of them. Their line of work includes traveling throughout the country looking for disaster relief projects to be apart of in the community.
They were nice folk, very easy to get along with and we really enjoyed our evening. As the night ended, we invited them to church on Sunday, only to hear that they considered themselves as “un-churched” people and gave the usual response of “we will do our best to make it!” We left with hope in our hearts that they would come. We also left with questions on our minds…What makes a person, even an “un-churched” person (whatever that means to you), feel the desire to volunteer in a community that it far away from their own?
We so often see, through the media or person experience, that the religious communities are ones who are helping our communities in disaster. It makes sense to us because we know it fits into their theology. People of faith want to help. It is the good thing to do – taking care of your neighbors as the bible says.
What if this action is something more than a yearly practice of religion? What if there is a deeper practice of faith (a faith of diverse meaning to anyone) that fuels us with grace help one another. Perhaps volunteering (serving) is a common denominator to all beings of humankind.
Within the human spirit lies the capacity to feel outside itself. We call this empathy, to feel into a living situation and understand what they could possible be going through. This realization is more than enough for any human spirit to feel compelled to serve and volunteer.
The religious communities of today are a great guiding light for people to find an avenue to serve and volunteer, but it seems to me that outside their efforts continue to be humans who reject the church, but love the service. Does this somehow lead us to the new direction of congregational, missional, and transformational religious communities? To a new society as we know it?
We can only have conversation, ideas, and hopes about tomorrow.
I believe a deep value of community may be the driving force underlying individual service. Perhaps church-community systems of service, like in the Mormon church, need to be explored deeper for building new hopes about tomorrow? (Too bad about DHM’s recent leadership snafus though, eh?)
Something along the lines of church-community systems of service must be considered if the Church is to survive and become meaningful to those whom the Church has generationally walked away from. The Church plays today with the words Corey raises—missional and transformational—using them to comfort the existing churched folk, but continues to struggle to find a path to engage them in a meaningful and actional way that matters to the un-churched; thus the reason so many people find ways to volunteer and work to help those who have been hurt, but have found little reason to engage in faith/congregational communities.