New Year, New Passions
Happy New Year to each of you! We are thankful for a new year and a new opportunity in 2023 to serve the Lord.
Romans 12:11 encourages believers to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Let’s be honest; we all hit low moments, days, or weeks where the zeal for serving the Lord is just not there. In our human state, everything affects us. Our emotions and thoughts are literal roller coasters. At times, our faith seems to be like the shifting sand… changed by every wave. Satan works overtime to undermine every truth that God has ordained.
In our churches, it is really easy to get into a rhythm or a pattern and grow complacent. We get into spiritual bubbles, and we begin to lose some of the zeal that we once had. It is extremely easy to do a great job “playing church,” and we forget to put the necessary effort forward in “being the church.” Now don’t take offense to these thoughts. I’m obviously talking in generalities, but if on some level, these statements apply to your church, then 2023 is a great time to make some changes.
Zeal and fervor, in the English language, both share the word PASSION as a synonym. When we lack passion in serving the Lord, we are not being everything that God has called us to be, in our own walk or as a church. A new year allows us to reflect on where we are in our own spiritual walks. How is your zeal and spiritual fervor right now? If it is lacking, let’s change that!
This month, I want to highlight a church in the Knoxville area that took some steps forward in keeping their “spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
Union Baptist Church of Halls in Knoxville, TN did their first Inasmuch Day this past fall, and their story is too good not to share. When I first met with the planning team of the church, they explained that Covid-19 had not been kind to their church body. I could sense that they were excited to get the congregation out serving, but they were hesitant and unsure of just how people in their church might respond to a large day of service.
I encouraged them to plan for 70% of their average church attendees to participate in their Inasmuch Day. Respectfully, they did not agree. And so we settled for a goal of 50% of their congregation, and they begin to plan projects with that goal in mind.
A few weeks later, I ran into two of the planning team members from Union, and they literally came running up to me to share their good news. They were so excited to report that they had ALREADY had nearly 50% of the congregation signed up and the church still had 2-3 weeks left of signups before their Inasmuch Day.
Tina Steinke and Stephanie Weaver, co-coordinators for Union Baptist Church’s Inasmuch Day, said that their church’s Inasmuch Day was very exciting. Tina said, “We knew God was going to move on this day, but we didn’t know exactly what that might look like. We haven’t seen this sort of excitement in our church before, especially in recent years.” Stephanie added that once her particular project was over on that Saturday, she was able to join in on another project. She was so impressed with her fellow church members and how they were loving their community. She said, “We tend to be in our little bubbles, but on that day, our people were very engaged with the people we were serving.”
Union Baptist conducted 13 projects all around their community and believe it or not, had 70% of their weekly attendees serving. Tina and Stephanie both acknowledged, “We were kinda skeptical going in because we felt like we knew our church pretty well. Operation Inasmuch lit a fire for our people. We think it recharged the church. It was very refreshing.”
Passion! That is what was refreshed in Union Baptist Church last November. One of the church members, Amanda, was involved in a project related to the homeless. That project had a divine effect on her. In a recent meeting with some of the church leaders, Amanda shared that she knows that God is drawing her to do more with the homeless population and we are all excited to see how God will use her here in the Knoxville area.
So, stop for a minute and do some self-analysis. If you are a church leader, think about your church. Maybe 2023 can be the year that leads you or your church toward spiritual fervor in serving. It’s a time for the broken and the needy in our world to see the Church in a new way. A time for the Church to serve the unserved, love the unloved, and reach out to the unchurched in ways they have never done before. We are the Church, YOU and ME, and we have a chance to step up and tell people that Jesus loves them by showing them that we love them. What an opportunity that we have been given… to serve with fervor!
Operation Inasmuch would love to help your church grow in the number of people who serve. We want to help your church recharge and feel refreshed. We want to encourage you and pray for you. We want to excite you and invigorate you. We want to challenge you and then walk with you as we all join in this mission of compassion. Please let us know how we can do that.
We work with our church in an ESL program and help twice each year with feeding the homeless for a weekend. Both are fun. We were involved in a lot more projects in our former church and community. We moved almost 2 years ago and are still learning the “lay of the land”. We are working with the local Association on a future OIAM and possible Food Packing.