Pastor Blake Williams
Missions & Outreach Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
“Do what’s right, because it’s right, until it feels right.” This is something that an old roommate and mentor of mine used to say all the time. We talked about how the right things to do were often not the easiest, but were very often the most rewarding. I thought about a lot of different times in my life where this has been the case and I’m thankful for those that have pushed me or challenged me to do the right thing.
Two examples that frequently come to mind for me are working out and doing community service. I know they sound strange together but they both fit the bill of things that are often hard to get excited about initially but you’re never disappointed after doing them. For the last 10 years in ministry I’ve been planning and executing major service projects for the churches that I’ve been a part of and every one without exception gets two responses. The first is: “I didn’t want to do this, but I’m so glad I did,” and the second is: “I should do this more often.”
This week is a perfect example. On Saturday we will be joining a city wide initiative called Love Our Schools Day, where the hope is to have over 15,000 people serving 500 different schools, in 30 different school districts. Many of these volunteers will be coming from churches and my hope is to have at least 200 people from Shiloh out serving. Last year we served three schools and this year we’ve taken on two more. We’ve asked our people to step up to the plate to help us serve and love these schools. Last year after an amazing day serving at Campo Bello I had two people tell me that they wanted to do this more often.
If you’ve been to church in the last few months you’ve heard us talk a lot about this day but I want you to understand what this looks like from our side and why it’s a strategic partnership for our church. It’s easy to get lost in the numbers with events like this but ultimately it is about the kids in the schools and the relationships with their families. Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of the administrators of the schools around our church and hear the vision that they have for their school. There typically is not a week that goes by, even during the summer, where I’m not in touch with at least one of these people.
One of the wonderful benefits of this is that these schools are now reaching out when there are issues coming up at their schools. In the past year we have had the opportunity to minister to three different families that have suffered the loss of a loved one. None of these families go to our church and from what I know, none of them know Jesus. This brings me a tremendous amount of joy because it’s a rare opportunity for us to pour Jesus’ love into a place that might be devoid of it at present.
Another amazing blessing is that we have opened the door with the entire Paradise Valley Unified School District. After the amazing success of the projects last year at Campo Bello and the reports on FOX10 news, Jerry Withers (principal at CBES) and I were invited to speak at the School Connect Summit. This event has over 500 people from every school district in Arizona, churches, non-profits, and local business sitting together trying to learn how to collaborate in order to serve the schools. Jerry and I shared how our partnership and friendship has developed over the last 3 years but that it wasn’t just us that made this happen. Volunteers from Lowes, the Masons, La Casa De Christo Lutheran Church, a local nursery, and over half of the Campo Bello staff showed up to make this day a reality.
Immediately after the event Jerry & I engaged in a conversation with the superintendent of PV Schools, where he asked if we could bring Love Our Schools Day to all of the PV Schools in 2017! I’m not sure if you can grasp what a huge deal this is but for years the church community has struggled to offer free service to schools because of red tape; but now the doors have been flung wide open for us.
Jerry and I set out to get more business partners, more churches, and more schools to sit together and talk about forming partnerships. As a result of these efforts at least 15 different schools will be served, which is 5 times more than last year!! Our hope is to get a church partner connected with all 45 schools next year and show the love of Jesus to the 3757 staff members and 31,487 kids in PV School District.
You might be making excuses for not going but trust me, you should sign up to serve, you’ll be glad you did! See you Saturday.