eNewsletter Feature Story – Week of March 14 thru March 20, 2021
This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Jim Teague,
FPCE communications coordinator.
Back in early 1994, I was involved in a food pantry ministry that would bring bags of groceries to residents of various low-rent apartment buildings in Evanston and the Rogers Park and Uptown neighborhoods. We would pack the food we received from the Greater Chicago Food Depository and then head out to wherever we had been assigned. We had a list of recipients, for whom we would drop off the food, visit with them, offer prayer, and then head to the next unit on our list.
Many of the individuals and families were thankful for the company and the prayer as much as for the food donations, while others would grumble about what wasn’t in the bags and hurry us out the door.
A number of the apartments were infested with cockroaches and silverfish, and more than a few of the hallways had “unique” odors to them. I decided I was better off not knowing what the source of the aromas might be.
After being involved in the ministry for a few months, I began to tire of the uncomfortable nature of the work, even though it never seemed to fail that God would show up to encourage at least one (usually more than one) of the recipients through the prayers we offered and in the fellowship we shared. I began having a debate with God about whether or not this was what I was “called” to do, but carried on and tried to remain faithful and cheerful.
I was just about ready to give up and find a new ministry when a young woman showed up one night to volunteer. Nice guy that I am, I thought I would show her the ropes. It turned out, however, that she needed no guidance at all. She had been away serving at an orphanage in Haiti for the past 18 months or so, and had been a regular volunteer with the food pantry before she had left. Her heart was (and is) devoted to seeing those in need experience God’s love through groceries, fellowship and prayer.
From that moment on, I stopped asking God whether or not I was “called” to serve in that ministry and showed up every chance I could just in case it meant I would get paired with her – with Linda, my future wife.
All of a sudden, the cockroaches, cranky recipients, and odd smells didn’t seem to matter at all. They went from being harsh, off-putting negatives to exotic distractions.
It’s obvious what changed wasn’t the conditions of the service, but the company I was serving with. And having a like-minded friend who I enjoyed sharing in the ministry with helped me to see that Jesus was in that service with us as well.
This Sunday, the First Pres Leadership Council will be launching its Discovery Tool Questionnaire as a means of building a church volunteer database and training program.
In a recent note to the congregation, Rosemary Mauck, chairperson of the Leadership Council, put it this way:
The Leadership Council has been working with Ministry Architects to develop a Volunteer Database and training program that will equip and empower our volunteers and leaders in their ministries. The database will house all the different volunteer jobs and positions that the church has to offer. Part of our vision is to provide our members access to these positions and to match up their interests and talents potentially with different ministries. It will give members a view into all of the ministries and where one might find an opportunity to serve. It will also provide the councils and staff with a view of our congregation’s interests and talents. The database is now ready to launch. At our March 14 service [THIS SUNDAY], you will all be asked to complete a brief questionnaire. This can be done on your smartphone or computer. If you prefer you can complete it now by right clicking on the
You will promptly receive an email with a list of the top 10 opportunities that seem to match your interests. Soon we will have in the database full job descriptions so you can see all the details of a particular ministry.
Now, I can absolutely NOT promise you that by filling out the questionnaire (now or on Sunday morning during the service) you will meet a future spouse who will turn your life upside down in all the best ways (including helping keep you sane during a pandemic 25 years later). But I CAN guarantee that you will still be in good company.
Yes, God promises to walk with us as we build and serve His church – his bride (Matthew 28:19-20). He set the example for us (Mark 10:45). And he is honored when we give our time, talents, and treasure to the ministry of the church (Acts 20:25).
So, remember Hebrews 6:10:
For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. (NRSV)
This Sunday, Pastor Raymond Hylton is preaching from John 3:14-21. Those verses remind us that Jesus was lifted up on the cross for the salvation of the world, and that his choice to give his life for us results in us being asked to choose between light or darkness, life or death.
I’m looking forward to being with Christ’s bride this Sunday!
FPCE Director of Communications