I spoke at a church this morning. I was given the opportunity to share about Great Oaks with a church in Peoria called Woodland Baptist. This past summer I took the summer staff to a church service here and wanted to come back. Awhile back, they sent a team of people to camp to do a roofing project on our dining hall and they had a fabulous time. During our summer visit, it was all I heard about from the people that I met. When it came time to recruit volunteers for our clubs, I thought of this church. I arranged with the pastor to speak at both of their services. A few days ago, I got word that we would be canceling club very soon and would no longer need volunteers. I began to wonder what I should speak about or if I should even keep the speaking engagement. I decided I would. I love public speaking and I especially love the opportunity to share what God is doing.
I decided to speak about making a difference, building the Kingdom of God and impacting eternity. I challenged the congregation to consider a different kind of New Year's Resolution this year. Instead of focusing on improving their own lives, how about making a difference in the lives of others? I outlined opportunities that exist with Great Oaks for them to make a difference - work projects, giving and prayer. I wanted to emphasize that they could make a huge impact in unexpected ways. I hope they realize how much we appreciate what they did by coming to camp and roofing the dining hall. It's because of groups like them, that we can minister to inner city kids in a building that doesn't leak. Through their prayers, we are empowered to continue in a ministry that can be very challenging. In the gifts that they offer, campers are sponsored to come to camp each summer.
I presented a slideshow of pictures of our kids along with the song, "God of this city" which has impacted me in a powerful way. It was a joy to see a church that loves God and wants to serve Him in practical ways. They love Great Oaks and that was evident as I heard story after story of what a great time they had out at camp. Their joy and enthusiasm is contagious. Oh how I would love to bottle some of it and share it with others so that they too might catch the vision and join in with what God is doing.
Romans 10:14-15, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"
My challenge to this church was, "will you make a difference this year?" It doesn't have to be with Great Oaks. There are dozens of wonderful ministries in Peoria. They may even choose to serve right there at their own church. But I wanted them to start thinking outside of themselves and consider how they might make an impact on eternity.
Ten minutes in each of two services. Good coffee. A chat with the pastor. Dozens of interactions. What a blast!