Have you ever heard the phrase “everybody matters” or “it just takes one?” A lot of people talk about the value of each individual, and how they are important. I recently had the opportunity to experience this first hand.
Casino Road Ministries, an organization I am involved with, started a new homework club at one of the large apartment complexes next to our church. The management of the complex asked us if we could start helping students with their homework, and we, of course, could not say no to such an invitation to serve. Flyers were hung, invitations were sent out to more than 250 apartment units, and we had several adults ready to help. We were excited about filling the complex’s main office area with many of the children that live there.
We knew we had so much to offer this community, and with great fanfare we opened the door. Our worst nightmare happened…one second grade girl was dropped off by her older brother. One student. That’s it. I helped her for an hour and gave her as many goldfish crackers as she wanted. After the session, we all went home. It was the finest hour of my life, but I left desiring more students.
Calls went out and more flyers were hung throughout the apartment complex in the next few days, “come to the Homework Club!” We expected more students this time so we added another volunteer leader. It is hard to think that we could go downward from the day before, but we knew that all things are possible. However, no one showed up.
We are a society that is affixed with numbers, and the more the better. Everyone wants to know: How many Facebook friends do you have? How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many people showed up at church for Easter? What is the profit of your organization? When no students showed up, it seemed a slap to the personal ego.
When we look at Christ, we have such a fascination with the multitudes that surrounded Him. We forget that there was always one person who “touched” Him. On the way to heal a little girl with the crowds pressing in, it was one lady in need who got His attention. In a house that was packed to the brim, it was one man who caught his eye. At a pool with many that were hurting, one invalid felt His touch. In the field with thousands gathered that were really hungry, it was one little boy that offered Him his bread and fish.
One by one He touches each and every one of us in the same way. He expects us to do the same. This still doesn’t negate that the one child who showed up is demoralizing. I began asking myself questions.
Why aren’t they(the kids), with us (the adults)? The solution to get them to us seemed a hard one to crack. Should we send more flyers, make more calls, talk to teachers, or maybe have an open house? Getting the children in the building was so much harder than we thought.
Further review raised another question. If I truly care about the one, why are the adults not where the children are? You see, this problem was hard to identify, but the solution was an easy one. We needed to bring ourselves out to them. We could do that in three easy steps. #1) get up #2) walk outside #3) look for the one.
Most community groups, businesses, churches, neighbors, and would-be friends would rather wait until someone comes to them. We sit around and wonder why no one calls, writes, or comes by. We ponder how we can get “that one person” into our building to sell them our goods and great products that will hopefully change their lives.
Christians usually ask, “How can we get people to our church?” Or they say “If my friend showed up on Sunday that would help him so much.”
The better question to ask, because it goes against the establishment and traditions, is “How can we get the church to the people?” Simply get up and walk outside, then when you are there, look around for the one that is in need of the love of Christ.
Now for Christians, it is not really an option for us to wait for them to come to us. Jesus instructed all of us to “Go into all the world.” We are asked to get up and go out from the One we serve.
He modeled this so well by always going to the people. He never had a house to lay his pillow. He never had a building to hang his walking stick. He never had business cards to tell people his office hours. He just got up, walked outside, and looked for “the one.”
Let’s stop asking, “How do we get people to come to us?” and start asking “How can I get to them?”
Back at the homework club we did what only seemed obvious to do. We left the office and went outside to the playground. Suddenly there were children everywhere. There were at least 100 children throughout the complex grounds. They approached us and, we had a great time with them all.
As we were playing, I noticed a little girl kicking a ball around. I walked over and noticed that it was the same little second grader that I had helped with math, spelling, and reading. She greeted me with a huge smile and began to tell her friends with great excitement that they could get help with their homework, and could eat all the goldfish crackers they would like.
The next time no one comes to your event, go out and play basketball or some other activity. Because I went to school that night, a little girl was “my” teacher. One does matter and I just met her.
Joseph Fehlen is the Lead Pastor of South Everett Foursquare Church in Everett, Wash. He is a married father of five kids, two of which are foster kids. He also serves as a barista at the local Starbucks.