166: Local Ways to Serve During the Holidays

How can our generosity make a real impact in our communities?

How do we step into the mess, right where we are, with the light of the gospel?

In this episode, Rachel Chester sits down with Ryan Thomas, CCCC Go Director, and Shari McCormack, CCCC Go Associate, to discuss how to serve our local community as the hands and feet of Jesus.

 

 

Time is Time & Time is Money

At some point in my college career someone told me, “Use your time wisely because you’ll never have this much free time again.”

I laughed and said “okay,” but was really thinking of how busy I was as a full-time student who was highly involved on campus, working part-time, and volunteering with my local church.

Looking back, I understand the comment they made.

It’s not that I’m necessarily busier today, I just have different responsibilities. I have a marriage that takes work and effort. I have a job that requires more hours. And believe it or not, I must go to the grocery store and cook because there’s not a campus cafeteria to eat at every meal. Every day I have to partake in all the fun things that make up adult life.

I have less free time to use however I want, but I still give my free time to the same things because I think they’re really important for God’s kingdom and my soul.

BE INVOLVED

When I first started college, I wasn’t committed to attending church on Sunday or the college small group on Wednesday nights. I didn’t think I had the time, or to be more honest, I chose to give it to other things.

After a couple months, I realized the reality of my priorities and made a change. Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night quickly became blocked off on my calendar. Over time, my Tuesday afternoons were designated to serving with a youth organization and I became one of the college small group leaders.

I committed to community and serving.

It would have been easy to sleep in on Sunday, plan something with friends on Wednesday, or pick up an extra shift on Tuesday, but I actually looked forward to these things throughout my week. And I still do, just in a different city with small group and Student Ministry on different nights.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  – Philippians 2:14-16

I was able to live differently than those around me on my college campus and hopefully give them a glimpse of God’s love and grace. I was able to share the goodness of God with junior high students that I would have normally never crossed paths with. And I did it all with a Gospel-centered support system around me.

We have countless opportunities to be involved in God’s mission, we just have to step into them.

BE AVAILABLE

Don’t book up your free time so much that you don’t have time to love and serve your family and friends.

In college, I made sure I had good quality time with my friends. Time away from studying or walking to class to really check in on them. Sometimes conversations were light, like how classes or relationships were going, others were heavy as we talked about mental health struggles and sin. I wanted my friends to know I was there for them always, regardless of the topic or time.

While I still carve out one-on-one time for my friends, I can also love them with my spouse beside me. Over the last couple years, my husband and I have had several friends who have had babies, so we support them by bringing them a meal, offering to pick up groceries, or watching their little peanut so they can get out of the house baby free.

I serve my people in these ways because that’s how God has gifted me, some of my spiritual gifts being exhortation and hospitality.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Maybe being a shoulder to cry on or cooking aren’t your things. But God has gifted you in your own unique ways that can be used for his kingdom and in the lives of those around you.

BE GENEROUS

Though the main focus of this article is on time, I think it would be a big miss not to address another really important resource: money.

Growing up, my parents taught my brother and I to tithe. I had a childlike understanding of it at the time, but I guess it always felt like a rule, not an act of obedience, and definitely not with proper heart posture.

Fast-forward to when my tithe became more than a couple dollars and suddenly it became more difficult to let those dollars go.

I worked hard for my money and still didn’t feel like I had that much of it. How was I supposed to just give some to the church?

The number in my bank account acted as a security blanket. But I was clinging to the wrong thing.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Matthew 6:24

Money can only give me a false sense of security, but it will always fall short. God is my ultimate security and provider.

At times, it seemed to take a crowbar to pry open my fist. I had to teach my heart and mind to relax and recognize that anything I was holding was put in my hands by God first. I also had to keep the gift of salvation that was freely given to me in its rightful, centered place. Now, I joyfully give to my Savior who gave his life for mine.

Each stage of life requires a rebalance of how we use our free time and resources, but it’s not an excuse to stop being involved, available, or generous. You might just have to do some extra planning and pray for God to open your eyes and heart to the opportunities around you.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:10

The Sarah Durm Story

Here’s a great story of someone using their skills, talents, and passions to share the gospel with our kids.

Serve One Another as We Serve the Lord

So much of what happens around here seems to get done by some invisible force.

People here at Clear Creek serve in a variety of different ways which can be visible to many or invisible to most.

The Alyssa Baker Story

“I really wanted to give these women an identity in Christ.”

Alyssa Baker is partnering with one of our GO Local partners, Recovery Chick.

The Travis & Cari Hicks Orphan Care Story

“God has gifted us each 24 hours in a day and we have a choice in how we spend it.

We knew going in to this that our schedules stay pretty packed, but what are they packed with? Are we aiming to glorify God with all of the time He has given us?

He made it clear to us that if we could make time for all of the other great things in our life, we could surely make time to care for the orphan – for HIS orphans.” – The Hicks

 

 

The Aaron Suhre Story

“We’re just this small story in the greater, bigger story of what God is doing. These are some things God has done in this life for his greater good.”   – Aaron Suhre

 

The Gilbert George Story

Gilbert George prayed to receive Christ in the summer of 1962 when he was 10 years old.

Now at 69 years old, Gil has been attending Clear Creek Community Church for just over a year. He’s a member of a men’s small group and has started serving on the Prayer Team at Egret Bay.

But there’s something you should know about Gil. He is visually impaired.

For over a decade he’s lived without sight.

But that hasn’t prevented him from wanting to grow. Although he’s been on the journey of following Christ for a long time, Gil knows he’s still only scratched the surface of who God is and how he loves.

So, each week on an alternating schedule, one of the guys drives to Gil’s home and brings him to small group. And to further include him, they even recorded a special audio version of Clear Creek’s Missional Community small group study, so Gil could study the material and participate in the discussion.

Gil’s impairment also hasn’t prevented him from wanting to serve others. Although he loves to meet new people, Gil knows he doesn’t need his eyes to pray for them. Ears to hear, a hand to hold, and a voice to speak to God are his tools of ministry.

And so each week, when he is scheduled to serve, a guy from his small group drives to Gil’s home and brings him to church so he can passionately pray for people who are hurting and need encouragement.

Growing together to stir up affections for the Lord and caring for one another in order to serve others — this is what authentic gospel community looks like.

And even if Gilbert George can’t see it all for himself, he knows it deeper still.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” Romans 12:4-6a

4 Ways to Host on a Budget

What does it mean to be hospitable?

I think for many people the idea of being hospitable means we must be able to craft a beautiful meal and have a picture-perfect home that could be featured on HGTV.

When that’s our standard it’s easy to see why so many people are hesitant to open their homes and host people.

The truth is, hospitality has very little to do with the food or the state of your home. There are no set rules for what this is supposed to look like. We’re simply called to love the people in front of us with what God has given us, be it little or much.

So, what if it’s little?

I know many of us truly desire to serve people in our homes but are working with tight budgets that can make the whole idea feel stressful.

If that’s you don’t worry! There are inexpensive and practical ways to welcome people into your home without breaking your budget.

Here are four budget-friendly ideas that can easily aid you as a host:

1. Make a Plan

Being hospitable isn’t something that happens automatically, it’s something you must choose to be intentional about. I’m not a natural planner, but I’ve come to learn that if I don’t plan to spend intentional time with friends and neighbors, it will never happen. Our schedule will fill up or we will be “too tired,” when the time comes.

A few years ago, my husband and I sat down and made a list of the people we hoped to share a meal with that year. We looked at our calendar to see what nights of the week we routinely had available and committed to keep those nights open, dedicating one night a week to inviting someone to share a meal with us. Planning ahead helped us create regular rhythms of hospitality in our home, and also helped in budgeting time and resources accordingly. 

2. Allow Others to Contribute

One of the first things people tend to ask when someone has invited them to their home is “what can I bring?” Often we respond with “Nothing! Just bring yourself!”

That may seem like the most hospitable way to respond, but, by not allowing others to contribute, you are putting more of the burden on yourself while also denying your guests an opportunity to serve you. Simply let guests, who offer, bring something you know they can easily go grab at the store. If you are planning to have a larger group of people over, share the cost by planning a meal in which everyone can easily contribute. Make a list of all the things people can bring to complete the meal.

Remember, the whole point of the meal is not just eating, but creating an opportunity to spend time with people you love. When you allow others to contribute, not only will it cost you less, but it will save you time, and everyone sharing the meal will be blessed.

3. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

While many opportunities to be hospitable are centered around a planned meal, there can be times that demand spontaneity. You could get a phone call from a friend who just needs to come over and talk, or a neighbor may stop by for a quick chat. Maybe it’s a hot day and you notice your mail carrier would benefit from a cold bottle of water, or perhaps your house is the hub for all the neighbor kids, which means they will probably eat all your food too. It’s good to be prepared for little moments like these with small things on hand to offer.

It could be as simple as keeping your fridge stocked with bottles of water, having extra coffee on hand, or stashing break and bake cookie dough in the freezer just in case.

I also always include one meal I know will feed more than just my family of five. The weeks we don’t end up having people over we get good leftovers. But if we do host, we know there is a meal in the refrigerator ready to share. It’s a win-win all around!

4. Be Yourself

Our lives and homes don’t have to be in perfect order to invite others in. If you wait until everything is just right, you will likely wait forever.

When people see that you have unfinished dishes and dirty laundry in your house and you ordered take out instead of cooking, they aren’t going to judge you, and they aren’t going to wish they hadn’t come over.

Instead, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing you are a real person, just like them. In fact, when you’re truly yourself and let people into your life (your REAL life), it dissipates a lot of pressure and allows for genuine community to flourish.

Being a good host does not mean you need to pay someone to clean your house within an inch of perfection or that you should spend a week’s grocery budget on fine wine and a lavish meal.

When you let go of what the world (and Pinterest) tells you your home should look like and just be who you are — who God created you to be — then your table will begin to look more and more like Jesus’ table which was never so much about the table, but rather who sat around it.

 

So, here’s the moral of the story: you can do this!

And I hope you will!

In the end, few people will remember the quality of that cup of coffee or how perfectly put together your house was. What they won’t forget is the way you opened your doors, welcomed them into your home, and nourished their souls.


 

111: Hospitality — A Conversation with Dave & Carla Vanderweide

As Christians, we are called to care for the poor and the widows, to love our enemies and our neighbors, and to serve one another with the love of Christ. One of the ways we do that is by inviting people in and making them feel welcome whether that’s through inviting them into our homes, sharing a meal around a table, or even inviting them to a rock concert. On this episode, Jon Coffey talks with East 96 Campus Elder Dave Vanderweide and his wife Carla about how they use their time, talent, and treasures for the kingdom of God, how that doesn’t look the same for everyone, and how God uses us in different ways in the different seasons of our lives.

Resources:

Table Talk: When Faith Meets Food — Week 2