Our denomination considers work in the community to be important. John Wesley is known for his comment “There is no holiness but social holiness.” Our upward relationship with God leads to our outward relationships with people which builds our inward relationship (or more simply stated, our faith in God feeds our care and compassion for others which deepens our faith). Works in our community might include volunteering at Payson Community Kids as a reader or tutor, or helping with meal preparation and service. It could also include volunteering at the Police Department, serving at Veterans Helping Veterans, helping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, or any of the 17 or ministries in which the church is already involved. Perhaps it might include starting a new ministry.
Last spring tornadoes struck at the heart of Arkansas. An acquaintance and colleague of mine reported on Facebook that the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) trailers with relief supplies were on site and ready to help before the news trucks from the “local” TV stations showed up. He showed pictures and video taken from a circling helicopter of the utter destruction of his church and the surrounding neighborhood. Our apportionment dollars help the denomination live out our goals of helping others through ministries like UMCOR that reach beyond the borders of our Annual Conference. Such services are also able to respond more quickly and with greater resources than any one church could do on its own. As we have heard in the Ministry Moments during the worship service, our contributions help support the largest center in Arizona for displaced children, Tucson Metropolitan Ministries, and many more programs in the Conference. Aside from merely providing money, we have the opportunity to work with organizations, such as FaithWorks, that provide ministries and services to the First People on the reservations as well as internationally.
Our faith in God assures us of God’s love for us (or it should), and because of that faith we are called to act upon God’s grace given to us. Every person should be engaged in ministry outside the walls of the church building. I love our motto “The Church has left the Building,” and I know I am not alone (I overheard a small group take on that motto because one of our members talked about what this congregation is doing to live into that catch-phrase). Truly, ministry outside the walls of the church is what we are called to; as individuals and as the body of Christ. As we explore our call to ministry of missions, we should each examine our own hearts and find how we can be at work in our community, in our area, and around the world.