Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Serve Day?

Here in Orange County we have an annual "Serve Day" where hundreds of churches and thousands of christians on one single Saturday a year to serve the community.

As someone who has been passionate about serving the poor and wanting to remind the Body of Christ of our mandate to serve others, you'd think I'd be one of the most vocal supporters of this annual event.

The truth is, it burns me that we have made serving others an annual event where everyone pays money to sign up, gets their "Serve Day" t-shirt and checks off the box for their annual hour of service to "those poor people" in our community.

I have to ask, "Why don’t our Churches do this every single day?"

Is this really what Jesus had in mind for His Church? Are we called to focus on ourselves 364 days of the year and expected to set aside just one day to serve others? I don't think so.

Sure, there's the potential for an event like this to be an opportunity for people to get their feet wet and discover the joys of serving others. I'm certain a few of those who have taken part in a Serve Day previously have decided that they could surrender more of their time to serve more often in their community.

I suppose my biggest concern is with the leadership behind Serve Day. They seem perfectly content to organize a massive, annual day of service across Orange County without any intentional effort to encourage participants to make service their way of life, every day of the week.

The emphasis seems to be on the "One day to change Orange County". Of course that one day has yet to change Orange County, or us, in any significant way, except perhaps to make us more complacent and apathetic the other 364 days of the year towards the poor around us.

Have I made my concerns known to those who organize this event? Yes, I have communicated my concerns to several people, but I think the event has become bigger than anyone ever expected and now any attempt to reconfigure the DNA of this thing is considered too much to tackle. At least that's my assumption of why no one seems to have tried to use the Serve Day event as a catalyst for long-term service within the community.

Why? Because servanthood is just one option for us as Christians, and honestly, it's not a very popular or appealing option to most.

I will say one thing, servanthood wasn’t an optional activity for the early church in Acts, or for the Apostles, and certainly not for Jesus.

Why has it become optional for those who call ourselves by His Name?



Like a Mustard Seed said...

I couldn't help but laugh to myself when you mentioned the getting the Serve Day T-shirt. To me, this notion of getting an official T-shirt for any Christian activity is just so iconic of everything that's out of whack with the church in America today. I remember in my youth group days, riding in a caravan of buses, with several hundered other high school kids, all wearing matching T-shirts saying "Serve '95" as we drove down to Tijuanna to build "houses" for a week. Of course we stopped at Disneyland first...

Parke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parke said...

this comment was amended to make sure it reflects my full heart on the matter

I continue to follow and appreciate your blogging, dude. Thanks for it. I'm still sorry I missed the California event.

Your heart for lasting and deep service is excellent. Your use of fellow followers (some my friends) as a blog example with the implication that there aren't long-term impacts and that people aren't serving isn't something I'm excited about.

I am excited that you continue to encourage people to serve in lasting ways. You continue to be an encouragement to me to do more in our area. I look forward to more posts with that constructive aim.

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Hi Keith,

It's not optional...but I think this is easier (to have a designated day to go out and serve the community - less fortunate)than building relationships with people, getting invested maybe without automatic results; I think in the back of peoples minds they think this will help them build a tolerance, maybe convict them to give to an organization, but doesn't necessarily teach you to hand out your home phone number to someone homeless, addicted to drugs, without a friend and so on. I'd hate to live my life or walking with Jesus as something that I have to sign up for, that He'd hand me a t-shirt and say, "well done my good and faithful service". Jesus made it pretty clear, when he says in (Matthew 25:31-46)how He calls us to live daily...

I love both yours and Wendy's hearts for the Forgotten, the lonely, the needy and the oppressed. Another verse that comes to mind as a reminder: Matthew 6:1-4 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. We love you Giles' - in HIM love Heather

Michael O'Neill Burns said...

you should start some parody events to show how ridiculous 'serve day' really is. Imagine how most christians would react if you had a once-a-year 'Worship' day, where we all sang songs with a hip worship band for a whole day!

Maybe 'Prayer Day' as well? The one day a year we were allowed to collectivley speak to the father.

And I'm sure the Catholics would lose it if we advertised a 'Eucharist Day'; the one time Christ body was available to believers all year.

If anything events like 'Serve Day' show how the american church has been completley infiltrated (or dominated?) by a market driving ideology implemented by the capitalist economy, which now dominates our whole existence, not just the economic factors. Thus service is almost a 'product' that christians can partake of to fill a spiritual 'need'. It's basically like a 'spa day' for evangelicals. People do things they wouldn't normally do with the belief that it would somehow make their 'life' (physical or spiritual) 'better'.

Glad someone isn't afraid to bring these issues up Keith, keep up the good work!

featuring chas pike said...

okay guys, so here is the deal:
they are doing this event out of the desire to serve. it is a good thing. in the book of acts, when ol st. pete heals a lame beggar, we are not told if there are more in the vicinity who were neglected. the concentration is on the positive. the path to everyday service begins with one day.
by the way, i am also the kind of guy who wears christian t shirts. i do it because it makes me feel good. i think it emboldens people around me who might not know or think that a guy like me enjoys getting jiggy with the Lord. to the silent christian it is a sign of solidarity, to the seeker it is a pitcairn, to the jaded it is just another reason to bitch. and if you (no one singled out here, just holding up the glass) find problems with this, and others who do the same, then i suggest that the problem is with you. you look at the negative. you stand outside the kingdom gate and pick nits off of the beggars trying to get in. don't be part of the problem.
yeah, there is a lot more to do, a lot more to be done, but you know what...give a brother a break. give a pat on the back and start helping out. make the next step. don't just stand there pissing from the balcony.
grace and peace,