Mell and I often traveled to bazaars. We enjoyed the atmosphere as well as meeting people at various churches I supervised. I also bought enough cakes and pies to add inches to my waistline. Bazaars, however, also offer unique opportunities to be the church in action.
How does your church provide hospitality to strangers? A visitor wandered into a bazaar with a lost expression on her face. Immediately someone greeted her and showed her around. In a few minutes she was being introduced to others. Before long, she was sampling Brunswick stew and talking with two women.
At other bazaars, people were met at the door and offered a tour. At one church I noticed a worker talking quietly to someone. Within minutes, she gently led the person to her pastor and left the room. I found out later, the customer was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Yes, the bazaar is primarily intended to be a fundraiser, but bazaars and churches can be so much more. George Barna in “Growing True Disciples” reminds us that being the church is not just on Sunday:
Worship not just on Sunday but every day of the week.
Convert knowledge of faith into personal application. Joyfully share resources — time, money, skills, information, etc. Deep commitment to building a life-changing community.
Spontaneous demonstrations of selfless compassion toward those in need.
Sharing our faith in natural and unforced ways based on relationships.
Live different from the norm because of our faith.
Project an image of love, care and compassion.
The Apostle Paul has a great formula on how to be the church, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each others faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Col. 3:12-15.
Some key phrases that should describe any church:
We are chosen by God to be holy people.
We clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
We should make allowance for each other’s faults.
Remember the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others.
We should clothe ourselves with love which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts.
For as members of one body we are called to live in peace.
Always be thankful.
Would you like something more specific? Here are a few things you could do right now to be the church in action:
Host a small group in your home.
Donate a few Saturdays, to fix up houses.
Participate with a church that is feeding meals to the needy.
Be a new member mentor — help new people feel welcome and find their niche.
Become a children or youth volunteer.
Building and Grounds – help your church look welcoming.
Meals on Wheels — bring a hot meal to those who need it most.
At church bazaars, I found many examples of the church in action. Every day we are given opportunities to be a representative for God. Now, if I can only find someone to help me eat these cakes and pies.
REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@ vaumc.org.