Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How to Get Involved in Your Community

I'm not sure if I have had the pleasure of discussing this yet, but participating within my local community and assisting those around me, is a huge passion of mine. Like God given, heartbeat. And I am in love with connecting people to community outreach experiences.

So I am apart of serving in outreach with my church regularly. I know that God has placed a calling in my life to not only serve others but to disciple others to serve. 

I find that when we take the time out of our busy schedules to volunteer in a shelter, coach a kids sports team, visit with the elderly, or love on a family with a child in the hospital, we are connected in those moments so much closer to God and our spirit rejoices from the experience. 

Now don't get me wrong, those aren't the only ways you can reach out to people in your community, but they are all great places to start. Once you get yourself involved in a lifestyle of serving, I personally feel like there are almost endorphins that release in your brain (kind of along the lines of exercising) that fill your heart with more joy then you ever realized could be possible in those moments.

My experiences have also assisted me in placing my life issues into perspective. When you personally have faces attached to a lifestyle of sleeping out in the cold, suddenly running out of your favorite hazelnut coffee does not seem as devastating as it was prior to this new vantage point.

These moments of standing in the gap for God's people (no matter what form that looks like) has become a lifetime mission of mine and if you are starting to feel that call as well, here are some great ways you can walk that out.

1) Be proactive about searching for opportunities at your local church. Most churches I have been in contact with over the years have had some sort of outreach program, but in the midst of not sounding like a broken record, they may choose to keep the public announcements to a minimum. That's where your proactiveness comes in handy. Seek out the opportunities and you will more than likely always find them.

Making pancakes for a local shelter
2) Volunteer as a coach or assistant in the local kids sports program. Most people don't realize this, but you don't have to have children to be a coach, just a passion for the sport. Now this does not mean that you need to sign up to coach baseball whilst never playing/watching/experiencing the game in your life. Do something you love, that you enjoyed growing up, and teach those kids to love it as well. 

Cheer Coaching with my Best Friend!
3) If you're a bit more adventurous, then wander into a local area of the community that needs assistance. Cities are great for this because there are always tons of non-profits to get involved with. And because they are non-profits, they usually can not afford to pay a massive staff to run the ins and outs of their daily procedures. So volunteers become not only a blessing to the clients of that non-profit, but also to the staff as well.

Community BBQ for our local homeless shelter
4) Pray with others. Sometimes in our society today, I think we forget the incredible power of prayers. I've had friends put a call out on social media, if anyone was interested in prayer to private message them or walked through a public place with signs that simply say free prayer. And here's the amazing part, people most certainly contacted them asking for this heavenly touch. People need us to pray for them more than we realize and putting the offer out there is more appreciated then we think.

Prayer in its realest form begins with just chatting with someone
5) Speaking of social media, it's also a great place to find out what different organizations are up to and participating in. Next time you see a well known organization (or one that you trust) is having an event, don't just hit the "like" button, head on out and be apart of what they are doing. People may not realize this, but non-profits have some incredibly entertaining fundraisers to help collect money/raise awareness for their cause and going out to their events is a great way to show your support for their organization.

Helping paint a local non-profit
6) Bring food to a family that you know is struggling in this season. We may not understand, until we are on the other side of the equation, just how far a simple and sweet gesture can go in the lives of a family struggle. There are so many opportunities to be a blessing for them while a family member has passed, a child has had surgery, a new baby has been born, or the stresses of every day life has forced them to have multiple jobs. Whatever the case may be, offering a homemade hot meal, can truly brighten the situation in that moment and be greatly appreciated. 

Be a superstar in your community!

There are so many more ways that you can get out there and become an active member of your community, but I hope this list inspired you to use the life God has given you to help bless the lives of others. I promise you, you will not be sorry once you do.
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