“The place God calls you to,” says Frederick Buechner, “is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” When we hear God’s call and seek to live out “Generosity,” the second “E” becomes engagement in the world.
People get personally involved when they follow their passions, naturally expressing their faith in the public sphere. I have seen Christians get engaged through at least three major gateways. One way is through hands-on mission trips, when we see we can make a difference in others’ lives, and surprisingly find ourselves changed, as well. At Foothills we regularly offer United Methodist Volunteers In Mission and Sierra Service Project trips. Several congregations across the U.S. find that personal-involvement service days are the front line of evangelism, particularly for young adults in the surrounding community.
A second way to get excited and engaged is to learn about our U.M. Apportionments or Shared Ministries. (For the moment forget whether we’ve paid our Apportionments in full or not; just learn about them!) We are part of a dynamic global network of community-based ministries that change people’s lives, both right nearby and literally around the world. Go ahead, check it out: subscribe to the General Board of Global Ministry’s e-newsletter, or browse through 2013 – 2016 Giving Opportunities Through The Advance by country, type of service, or agency. And the next time you take a trip, go visit one.
A third way people engage comes when seeing individuals in need leads them to ask questions about the social systems that cause such suffering. Some UM churches select issues from our General Board of Church and Society, California Impact, Lambda Letters, or another alert network. Others subscribe to the United Methodist News Service, which simply reports on global events. Many congregations offer a Letter-Writing Sunday after worship once a quarter, where people write whatever they want to say to their legislators on any topic they choose.
God moves us to act on our faith and become personally engaged with the needs of the world. May we encourage such involvement with a generous spirit!
Your partner in ministry,
Written 4/2013 for Foothills UMC, Rescue, CA