Sunday, March 05, 2006

practically involved

I don’t know about you all, but I get tired of being a hypocrite. In fact, every year it’s my goal to be less of a hypocrite than I was the year before. And I have to tell you, I also get tired of reading (or hearing) the exposes of people who have so much to say about mission, yet aren’t actually involved in any themselves. It seems that, every time I turn around, somebody has posted the lyrics to some song about social action on their site, or a Bible verse, or are talking about the last book on mission that they read. In fact, many of them are just outright quoting the book that they read, but pawning the thoughts off as their own. I, for one, would really like to be able say that the stuff I write about, I’m also doing, or at the very least, trying to figure out how to get involved in. Which brings me to my point.

In the past few months, I’ve begun to realize that “getting involved” is a lot easier to say than it is to do. And it’s not just about carving out the time to do it. It’s also about knowing how to actually get involved. I’m totally taking a stab here, but I have this suspicion that, back in the 70’s and 80’s, when western generations were only about making a buck, charities changed from places where you volunteered your time, to places that you donated your money to. I believe, however, that back in the 90’s, things began to change among young people. They began to want something more. They wanted to contribute. They wanted to make a difference. They wanted their lives to matter. And I think that that’s still true today. The problem is, I don’t think most people know where or how to get involved. And thus the dilemma. Fact is, I work for The Salvation Army, head up youth ministry for a division, and even have a youth project of my own here in Tottenham, but I could only give you a handful of places to get involved, and all but one of them is youth ministry related. I was even interviewed last week by an agency doing work for the government, who’s job it is to find out what opportunities there are for young people to volunteer. I hated having to admit that, here in London, we don’t offer many. So what to do about it?

Well, for one thing, as a DYO, I would like to begin to change that here in London. I would like to find specific opportunities for people to get involved, and then to do a good job at making those opportunities known to the public. I’ve always believed that The Salvation Army was a good church to reach people through, simply because, though people are less and less willing to attend your worship service, people are more and more inclined to come along beside you for purposes of social action. They see authenticity in it. They see faith in action. And it’s something that they can believe in.

The other thing I’d like to do is to be able to make people aware of mission and social action opportunities through this blog. Specific and practical ways that you can get involved, and that you can help. Sure kids are being hunted and trafficked from Africa, but what in the world can we do about it? Glad you asked!

In my last post, I posted the link to a horrific story. A story of children in Northern Uganda who, every night, walk to a shelter called Noah’s Ark where they’ll be safe from people who are kidnapping children and selling them into slavery. I actually saw this story on CNN and it ripped my heart out. But it also peaked my interest and gave me some hope because, rather than a story about an entire nation full of children in need, this was also a story about a very specific placed called Noah’s Ark. I thought to myself that, if I could just track down Noah’s Ark, maybe there would be a way to give to them specifically, or even to plan some sort of a mission trip where we could raise money to help build more facilities.

What I ended up finding out, however, is that they are funded through a Christian ministry here in the UK called Tearfund. And that, among the many ways you can give to Tearfund, is a credit card that donates to Tearfund every time you spend £100. Awesome! My wife and I purchase our groceries online every month! And we usually purchase about £200 worth! So I applied for the card, was approved, and will now be cancelling the card we used to use for grocery purchases.

While I wouldn’t want to encourage anybody to get a credit card, I would like to encourage any of you who know how to use them responsibly, and who already have one anyways, to consider replacing it with this one. It’s through a bank called Cooperative which also happens to be a bank that only invests in ethical organizations. So it’s a win win situation. UNLESS, of course, you don’t know how to handle a credit card. I feel that that disclaimer is important because debt is one of the biggest ball and chains on our society. Christians in particular.

So there you go. My first in, hopefully, a long line of practical ways to get involved. It’s not much, but it is a start. I would be really happy if, from time to time;, when you stumble onto other practical ways to get involved, if you would post them on this site or even shoot me an email.

Btw, unfortunately, the above credit card is for UK residents only.

Finally, I’d like to dedicate the song on the right to my good friend Larry who is a constant reminder to me that you’re never too old to be involved in youth ministry. In fact, anytime I start to wonder, I just think of Larry and say, “Heck! If he can still do it, I’ve got another twenty years or so before I need to think about getting out!” Thanks for that Larry! : )

Comments on "practically involved"


Blogger Bret said ... (2:29 AM) : 

Hey Tim,

I hear what you’re saying about people who just talk. But how do you know that people that quote books and talk about mission are only talking and not doing?

There are a lot of people who process their thoughts and frustrations by bloging, hoping that someone will challenge or guide them in such a way that will bring clarity and answers to complex issues.

As far as quoting books, some use books and authors to validate their understanding of ministry. My understanding of ministry has really not changed since God first called me. However, as I sought to influence others and initiate change, it became clear that I did not know how to communicate or validate my approach to ministry. Reading and keeping up with the latest developments of ministry has helped me in this area.

As far as guiding volunteers into ministry. . . this is a weakness of ours as well. Outside of Christmas, there are not a whole lot of opportunities. That is, however, changing. One thing we are doing is starting an outreach ministry to low income seniors and the blind (we have a school for the blind in our community). The ministry will not only serve these people but will create opportunities for the two groups to minister to each other. These groups are probably the most underserved in our community. I’ll let you know how it develops.




Blogger surrendered said ... (5:35 AM) : 

For me, it's about bringing things to people's attention they might not come across on their own. Heck, I even post some stuff on my website that I'm sure not everybody will agree with or have the same opinion on. However, I'm trying to get away from just arguing for argument's sake. If somebody's got a different viewpoint than mine... fine! :) Let's both "prove each other wrong" (tongue-in-cheek) by the love we have and show to our fellow man.

Ideas are important. Dialogue is important. Just remember that the Word was long before the Word became flesh. There has to be something to that.

The Word did become flesh, though, getting practically involved, as you say. There has to be a balance. Action without thought and thought without action are both dangerous things, no?



Blogger Larry said ... (1:59 PM) : 


Thanks for the "when I think I am too old, I think of Larry comment." You know how to hurt a guy :) I am not twenty years older than you! Maybe 17 not twenty.

So getting people involved, hmmm. I think we start where we are. WE get involved and set a pattern then ASK others to come along. This social action partnership may also be discipleship in some way.

We need readers as Bret says. We need to debate as Phil states. We need to do as you state.

More importantly, we need to be. In being, we develop a holistic approach to Christianity and our calling, both general calling and specific. The problem is that most people are not usually holistic. They get praised for doing and capacity and not often for doing and character.

I have always found that as character is developed, that the capacity of a person to serve develops in quality. That character development is often a by-product of modeling and other words..people being honest. That means discipling and being discipled.

Sorry for the long post. OLD GUYS tend to ramble :)


Blogger peter said ... (7:28 PM) : 

A few days ago one of my student's parent asked me if there was a way for her and her entire family to give back to the community, in a way other than just cutting a cheque. So in my excitement I said "sure, we have something for you at the Army." So I asked my CSM, and she was like. "ahh, no we don't do that" "the only kind of volunteering we have is cleaning and file work..."
No wonder we have issues in the church.


Blogger bedemike said ... (1:33 AM) : 

Peter -

So what's the next step? Do you return to the lady and say, "Sorry, I'm told there's nothing here for you"? Or, do you say to the lady, "I was thinking of putting together a project to do this. Would you like to help?" Some might suggest that by accepting the CSM's answer as the final one without coming up with something, you are part of the problem.

Maybe you did or will engage in something - I'm not trying to sell you short. But sometimes I wonder how quick we are to realize that when a comment is made like, "No wonder we have issues in the church," we are speaking of ourselves as much as anyone else.


Blogger Tim said ... (1:44 AM) : 

I would just like to jump in here and say that it's not as easy as coming up with something like that on the spot. However, this does highlight the need for us to figure out a long term approach to this problem.


Blogger Taminee said ... (4:40 PM) : 

The great thing about knowing God is that He speaks to us all the time, no matter how much more experience we have with age. My coworker turns 40 this year and she is finshing up her classes at seminary to become a youth director. Sometimes God speaks and it takes awhile for us to agree. Other times He finds that age has made us wiser and more resourceful to carry out His works and Word.
There are so many things we can donate and volunteer for. I don't have a lot of money, but I can do hair. I recently worked at an event for a foundation hosted by the local catholic church. It was fashion show to raise money for the foundation. We had 6 fashion shows in 3 days. plus the dress rehearsals. I did at least 40 heads of hair for each show. I'm not tooting my horn, just saying that we all have talents God has given us. If money is an issue, donate your time and expertise.
I am heading up a Locks of Love drive this summer and I am amazed at the number of people volunteering to help out and donate entertainment and equipment for a successful event.
If you find a cause you want to get involved in, contact their headquarters and see what you can do to help! You'd be surprised at what you can do to raise money or other needs for this cause. No matter how young or how experienced.


Blogger Evangeline said ... (11:43 PM) : 

I often find myself coming to the conclusion that I belong to a strange Salvation Army church (corps. whatever). People come along, find something to do inside or outside the church, and draw on the church for encouragement and practical support. People like me (corps visionary and all-round pest) come up with far more ideas than people to do them all!

Oh, that's right.. I was going to comment on Youth Leaders. I think it's great when older people get involved in youth group. Where on earth did we get the idea that only young 'uns should be involved? Who are the youth going to learn their life lessons from if their parents aren't capable? People only a few years older often just don't have the life experience to offer.

(PS. If this offends you, either you've misread or I've miswritten. No sentiments of an offensive nature were actually intended, but tiredness may've let a few seem to slip through - bad wording etc.)


Blogger Nicole_Hostetler said ... (3:29 AM) : 

Thanks for the reminder and great idea of how to get involved outside of our own little circles.
We've taken an approach in our ministry with volunteers that may be helpful (at least I hope it will). We need to first look internally at our structures in the corps. Many of us can get caught up in the fact that it's always been done this way (meaning the same 3 people have always run the food bank..we don't need any outsiders helping). Start by listing every ministry provided by the corps (this includes programming). Then, think of how these can be improved with the addition of skilled volunteers. For example, connect with a few local college students majoring in music to help teach the kids during band. Also, people who are skilled at financial counseling can offer free budgeting/ debt counseling for those in your area.
Ask those who are looking for volunteer work to list some skills they have (even if they don't think they could ever be used)..this could be the springboard for even more ministry opportunities.
Our first year we arrived in our appointment we had 6 volunteers...but we give God the praise that this year we had a volunteer dinner for over 60 people! We have more and more people calling because there is always a volunteer opportunity available--even if we have to work with you to find where your gifts can be used.
So, don't get discouraged! Don't be embarassed to ask for help to find opportunities (manytimes they will walk right out your door if your not careful).


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