How do you feel about being served? Some people really struggle with it, like Peter did when Jesus started to wash his feet. It’s awkward. It offends our pride. In many ways, we’d prefer to be the one serving.
But at bottom, being a Christian requires a recognition of our deep need, an admission of our inability to meet our need ourselves, and a glad reception of Jesus’ work on our behalf. We all must be content to be recipients of Christ’s gracious service!
And receiving tangible help from others can be a great reminder of this essential gospel truth.
In August, Chicagoland Baptist churches had the experience of being served. People came from ten other states to descend on Chicago over two days and do dozens of different projects in the name of Jesus. It was part of Send Relief’s Serve Tour. They were able to bless 16 churches, 7 local schools, 5 bi-vocational pastors, and helped put on over 20 different community projects from painting viaducts to feeding the homeless. In the end, 2,800 construction hours were logged. And in the process 982 gospel conversations were had.
As amazing as all this was, it was only a drop in the bucket when it comes to meeting the needs in Chicagoland. There are 9.4 million souls up here, the vast majority are not in a vital relationship with Christ. Most of our churches are stagnant or in decline. And there are massive opportunities for displaying Christ’s compassion.
For example, over the past year more than 13,500 migrants have arrived in Chicago. Thousands of them are currently sleeping on police station floors. One of our churches, Starting Point Community Church, is housing 16 men. But again, this just scratches the surface.
So Chicago will always be a major destination of mission teams and on the receiving end of service projects. We welcome anyone who wants to come here and serve!
We definitely can’t do it on our own. Our church has a few medical professionals. We wanted to provide care to the low-income housing residents in our neighborhood during the Serve Tour. But how? The North American Mission Board provided us with fully outfitted, state of the art medical and dental trailers for the weekend. I told the members of our church that this is the beauty and one of the benefits of being part of the bigger Baptist family. They were impressed and grateful.
At a recent pastors’ lunch, we talked about how to continue the momentum we sensed at the Serve Tour. Jason Stuckey, the Send Relief Ministry Center Coordinator here in Chicago, laid out a three-part vision.
First, we will continue receiving together. Part of Jason’s job is to help connect people outside Chicagoland with the needs here and create a win-win experience for the churches that come and the churches that receive.
Second, we want to grow in serving each other. The Serve Tour wasn’t just comprised of people from the outside coming in. We saw Chicagoland Baptists serving in projects put on by other Chicagoland Baptist churches. There are many resources within Chicagoland and we want to grow in bearing one another’s burdens locally.
And third, we need to do more serving together. One of my dreams is to see Chicagoland Baptist churches strengthened to the point that we are not always only on the receiving end, but actually send people out from here to “pay it forward.” Towards that end, we’re already starting to plan for a group from Chicagoland to go participate in the Serve Tour when it comes to Flint, Michigan, next summer. Mark August 9-10, 2024 on the calendar!
That’s what receiving Jesus’ sacrificial service does to all of us, right? After Peter acquiesced to letting Jesus serve him, Jesus told him to wash others’ feet. By being served we are transformed into servants. And the needs are everywhere.
Nathan Carter is pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church and Associational Mission Strategist for Chicagoland Baptists, the local association serving metro Chicago churches.