Friday, September 25, 2009

Giving Ourselves Away

I believe that we are most like Jesus when we serve others by giving ourselves away. We can give of our time, our talents, our treasure, but most importantly we must give of ourselves. But giving that does not cost us in some way is not a true sacrifice.

When we stop seeing people as evangelistic targets, when we stop expecting something in return for helping them — it is only then that we can serve people and meet the needs in our community the way Jesus did.

As part of Encounter Church, we feel this is one way to be a burning bush — something that catches the attention of a city so they can not only hear the voice of God, but also encounter firsthand His crazy love through us – in a real and tangible way.

Building these types of relationships with individuals and our community is something we at Encounter call "Engaging Our Culture." We know that once people come in contact with Jesus, they are forever changed. We are not just doing community service, we are serving our community. And that is a big difference. When we serve our community we are pursuing the transformation of a community.

Engaging Culture by building true relationships with others is a lifestyle, not an event. It is something we do in our homes, workplaces, classrooms, pubs, tattoo parlors, and more. We must first live out this lifestyle as individuals, but we also know that there is great value in gathered efforts as well. And that is what Encounter's Community Impact efforts are all about.

Our Community Impact relies partly upon an intentional and coordinated effort of service with others in order to accomplish something significant to change peoples' lives in a positive way. We want to see Encounter Church not as a place we only attend on the weekend, but something we ARE throughout the week.

We have come to understand that we are not "bring Jesus" to people, but that that Jesus is already alive and active in our culture and we want to join Him in what He is doing. While Encounter does initiate some community impact efforts of our own, we are very interested in partnering with other organizations that are already successfully meeting needs in our community. And then we can join in and help make an even deeper impact.

Some of the community organizations we have already served or partnered with are the Helena YWCA, Youth Connections, Downtown Helena, Helena School System, Elkhorn Rehabilitation Center, St. Peter's Medical Center, Staples, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana. We are continually looking to strategically expand such partnerships.

Isn't it time that you "give yourself away" in your community?

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