Social and service clubs are a great blessing to many communities. They create camaraderie, meet local needs and generally are a pleasant experience for their members.
Courtney Meyer (in Kiwanis magazine, April/May, 2015, pp.30-34) writes about the Kiwanis Club of Deltona-Southwest Volusia (Florida). Here is a group of energetic civil-minded folks who decided to ask some tough questions—not of themselves but of locals like a policeman, a teacher, a pastor, a librarian, a real estate agent, a school counselor, a small business owner and a health care worker as well as a city manager. What did they ask of these folks? What are two top needs of the community? The answers: food and community unity.
This local club serves 5 cities and over 120,000 people. This brief informal survey revealed something that the Kiwanis members did not know: people were hungry. They also learned of the homeless issue in their communities. They learned of those who were already attempting to meet the needs.
The members mobilized and started donating to local food closets and joining hands with other social clubs to meet the need. Such efforts had never been attempted before.
The results: people started visiting the Kiwanis meetings. Kiwanis got a reputation as a good organization that wanted to help folks. Kiwanis also discontinued their pancake breakfast as a fund-raiser. They made room for new projects.
What Could the Church Learn from Kiwanis?
- The church should know what the local needs are. The church that is relevant to the community (in which it resides and assembles) will know the needs of the community and seek to minister to some of them in the name of Christ (Gal.6:10; Matt.5:13-16). Are we as smart? If we are smart, we will make room for new projects (ministries) based upon local needs. This Kiwanis Club was not only missing out on helping folks, it appears that it had growth struggles. After these folks learned of local needs and made some changes, their club become relevant, people were helped and their membership grew. It has been said many times before, but it is still relevant—especially here: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. The Kiwanis of Deltona broke the insanity cycle. Are we as wise? We show wisdom when we are cognizant of local needs and make room for new projects and ministries to meet those needs.
- Second, churches need to assess their mission statements based upon community and church needs. Some needs never change (e.g. we will always need someone to prepare the Lord’s Supper, clean the building and get the men together to lead the worship services, etc.). However, other needs change over a period of time. Churches many times over look the obvious opportunities of service in their communities because they are comfortable with what they’ve done for many years. However, ministry is born, lives, thrives, declines and dies. Is your church fulfilling her mission statement? Does your church have a mission statement (or are you aiming at nothing) that includes serving your community? How do your ministries fulfill your mission statement? What kinds of revision and adjustments need to be made?
- Churches need to be open to the possibility that they could be better stewards of resources entrusted to them (cf. Luke 16:10). I am one of those naïve people that believes that there are good ministries, better ministries and the best ministries. I also believe that some needs are greater than others. There may be times we don’t want to pay the price (money, time, energy and effort) required to meet those greater needs in our communities. However, we should be good stewards of God’s blessings.
- The ultimate goal is to win others to Christ. This is a given. Matthew 25:31-46 comes into play here as does Galatians 6:10 and Ephesians 5:8-9. We must never overlook our primary mission: making disciples (Matt.28:19; Eph.3:9-11). If you do research about Kiwanis, you will learn their goal is to help people (especially children) and make life better for them. Our ultimate goal is to share the gospel with folks. We want everyone to go to heaven with us. Trav