Yes, but what are we missing in our own backyard? Do we see the needs of those who live across the street from our homes and the church? Those who live around the block? Do we even know their names? Are we so busy doing service overseas that we don't do it in our own backyard because it's not so exciting or because it's so much more difficult to get volunteers to do it?
Start a Backyard Mission
Every congregation should have a Backyard Mission. What's that? It's getting to know and helping your neighbors. If your church is in a neighborhood, do you know the names of the neighbors across the street? Do you know their needs? Have you prayed for them? Have you introduced yourself?
My suggestion is that for a week in the summer, make it a big deal to have groups go around the neighborhood and see if there's something you can do to help them. Then turn it into an ongoing project, not just something you do once a year. After all, how much money does it take to take a group of people overseas to help and how much more further would that money go to help in your own backyard. Try one or all of these:
- Pray for your neighbor.
- Fix up a yard.
- Paint a room or a house.
- Do a walk around food drive for the local food shelf.
- Do a walk around sock drive to prepare for the winter months.
- Clean up trash in a local park.
- See what you can do at a local homeless shelter.
- Work in a community garden.
- Build a Men's Servant Team.
- Develop a continuing relationship with a local retirement or nursing home. (They don't just need you at Christmas!)
Make your church known in the community as a church that doesn't just talk about Jesus' love inside the walls, but shows it outside the walls and into your own backyard. Don't show that you only do service in other countries and then come back all pumped up to share your great experience when those around you may be needing that energy and your help. Jesus didn't set up a tent and try to get people to come to him. He went out. We need to go out too... into our neighborhoods and then the rest of the world.
I posted on this subject before here.