For several years I served in or led a team of men that did most of the cooking for the youth camp that my church hosted. I have cooked more hamburgers than you can imagine. When I say I have cooked thousands of pancakes I mean it. I have cooked a great many things and in great quantities. Among the many things that I have cooked in crazy quantities is bacon. We would cook 15 pounds EVERY MORNING. I have cooked more bacon than most people have seen in there entire life. The best part of cooking bacon is that we get to eat some. I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that a couple pounds of bacon never made it out of our kitchen. There is a lot work, planning, and organization that goes into preparing three meals a day for 200 people or more. But, at the end of the day the experience is about more than bacon.
More than bacon. As I mention above there is much work that goes into getting ready to cook for this many people. Every year my wife and I spend several hours looking at the menu, determining portion size, looking at the number of people we will be cooking for and deciding what we need to buy and how much. We then spend an entire day, the Saturday before camp, buying all of the food and getting it to the church. Plus, we have to figure out how many plates, forks, spoons, etc we need and make sure all of that is taken care of. Then my crew arrives at 5:30 each morning to start cooking. As soon as we finish preparing one meal and take some time to eat its time to start preparing for the next meal. In the midst of all of this, it can be very easy to become so focused on the tasks that we forget that what we are doing is about something much bigger than the tasks that we are doing.
There’s a bigger picture. With all that has to be done to get ready for camp and all the work that has to be done during camp it can be very easy to forget that there is more going on. The truth is that camp really isn’t about the bacon or the hamburgers. It’s not about the lake activities or boats. It’s not about the spirit teams or games. Camp is really about bringing kids into an environment where they can encounter Jesus. It’s about creating an environment where some kids might begin a relationship with Jesus and others may grow in their existing relationship. All these other things are part of this, but this is ultimately the goal.
It’s not just a camp problem. This problem does not just exist at camp. This is the kind of thing that we can all fall into if we are not careful. Any of us that serves in church can come to the belief that the “little” thing that we do doesn’t really matter. But, the truth is that everything that any of us does to serve the church, to serve God, to serve the people that come to church, to serve our community matters. It’s not, necessarily, about the exact thing that you are doing, but about helping people move closer to Jesus.
More than hand shakes, bulletins and smiles. I grew up in the church. So, for me church is a fairly comfortable place to be. But, even for me when I show up at a church that I have never been to before it’s a bit intimidating. Having a friendly person there to greet me can make all the difference in the world. I have worked for almost 20 years in an emergency room. Time after time I have seen the power of something as simple as a smile to make people feel more comfortable, to help calm their fears, to bring them some degree of peace. Never underestimate the power of the simple smile.
More than orange vests and cones. Research shows that people decide if they are coming back to your church within the first seven minutes of arriving. That means before the first song has been sung or the pastor has spoken a word. This means that even the person helping them find a good parking space may be the difference between that person coming back, or not. When you put on that bright orange vest you may not see your part in the bigger picture. Your help in finding a parking spot may be what makes that guest decide to give the church another week. Your smile and friendly greeting may be what encourages that guest to stay for the service, or come back for another one. Your involvement may be what gives that guest a chance to hear the gospel, maybe for the first time. Maybe that guest receives Jesus on that day.
You see, no matter what your role is. No matter how you serve in the church. No matter how insignificant you think your role is. You matter. What you do matters. What you do, no matter how little or how far removed from what seems to be important, it is all part of God’s plan. YOU are part of God’s plan. Every Sunday when you show up and you serve, you are part of God’s plan for someone.Matt Norman
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