by Pastor Miles McPherson
A church member asked me to visit a young woman named Tracy who had been in a terrible car accident. Of course. That’s what pastors do, right? As a new youth pastor, I had just left the NFL after playing four years with the San Diego Chargers and I thought I was prepared for anything. Then I saw Tracy.
She was burned all over, with tubes coming out of her everywhere. Chains and straps suspended her arms and legs, except what was left of her legs ended at the knees. One eye was swollen shut, and the other stared at me.
I took a deep breath and introduced myself, offering to pray for her. Tracy shook her head and started to rattle her arms and what was left of her legs. “Can I get you anything? Are you trying to tell me something?” I asked. The nurse came over, glared at me, and tried to calm the moaning woman. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I just wanted to sprint out of there.
The nurse actually saved me by basically kicking me out, but as I walked back to my car, I was overcome with a sense of shame. I failed Tracy, because I walked in as self-absorbed “Joe Pastor.” I couldn’t do something for Tracy because I had no idea what her needs were.
SPREADING PERVASIVE HOPE
The church is like that in a lot of ways. The world is a big ICU, full of broken, hurting, damaged people. But many of us are unwilling to understand their needs and feel their pain.
God calls us to be Jesus’s Body and do His work, though. On every street, for every person, we must establish God’s pervasive hope. In fact, the Rock Church in San Diego, where I am senior pastor, is what we call a “Do Something Church.” Our motto is: For every way someone can be lost, we want to provide a practical way for him or her to be found, in the very place they have ended up.
How do we do that? How do we become a Do Something Church?
COUNT, WALK, ASK, RESPOND
We’ve developed four steps in be-coming a Do Something Church: Count, walk, ask, respond.
1. Count and assess your community’s need.
Jesus counted. Think of the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-17, or the parables of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-4). Our communities have full of “lepers” and “lost sheep” but we can’t find them if we don’t know where to look. Within a 10-mile radius of the Rock Church there are
* 11 abortion clinics
* 17 adult book and video stores
* 32 drug treatment centers
* 5 homeless shelters
* 12 battered women’s resource centers
* 457 AA meetings every week
* 315 bars and night clubs
* 11 strip clubs
* 38 escort services
* 16 hospitals
These numbers are staggering when you consider what a small area of San Diego this covers. Imagine the spiritual and emotional needs of the entire county. Then multiply that throughout the world!
The first step of the DSC Process, then is counting and mapping the needs of your community. Taking the time to do a systematic survey of your area will always yield eye-opening information, regardless of how familiar you might be with your neighborhood. Count statistics such as:
* Population (include adults versus children/youth)
* Number of primary and secondary schools
* Number of colleges
* Number of police stations
* Number of shelters
* Number of homeless
* Number of prisons
* Number of rehab clinics
After you’ve counted, distill the results into a simple digestible form. You’ll find that a picture will begin to emerge of the most conspicuous needs. You and your leaders will begin to feel led to a particular area of need (or needs). Now it’s time for the second step of the DSC Process.
2. Walk the locations of your community’s need.
Jesus walked everywhere and showed us that service is a full-contact activity. It is not some-thing that can be done from afar. It is a flesh-and-bones endeavor that requires our physical presence. That is why, Step 2 of the DSC Process is to spend time among st the needs and the needy you have discovered. Walk through your community and vi-sit the places and people you now hope to serve.
Pray for your community as you and your leaders and volunteers walk. Pray for God’s leading and for His wisdom and insight as you consider how to serve your community. Remember that this is not a “box to check” activity. You may feel the need to spend several days or weeks walking through and among your community.
As you do, your vision and your excitement for how and where you are going to serve will become more concrete. Then tackle the third step of the DSC Process.
3. Ask how you can help your community’s need.
Even Jesus asked people how He could be of help to them. Think of Mark 10:50, when Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”
You are not alone in your desire to meet the needs in your area. Community leaders, local politicians, law enforcement, educators, and other religious leaders are serving in your community every day. Every day, they en-counter crime, drug use, domes-tic abuse, suicide, joblessness, eviction, illness, abandonment, homelessness, crumbling facilities, and despair.
Ask them for specifics. Listen carefully to their answers. Take notes and organize and distribute them to your leadership team to pray over and discuss. If you are led, go back and ask follow-up questions. Asking will sharpen your focus and begin to illuminate the data you gathered when you Counted and Walked.
4. Respond to your community’s need with love.
This verse says it all: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7 NKJV)Love is an action, and our service to others is one of our most profound expressions of love.
Love is the final and most important step of the DSC process. After you have identified and understood the needs in your community, you now have the great joy of working with others to meet those needs!
As you plan, recruit, and delegate, be sure to clearly communicate the need you hope to meet with those who will serve with you. Share the data you collected when you Counted. Share the experiences you had as you Walked. Share the needs you heard about when you Asked. By sharing both the process and the ultimate vision, you will make it easier for others to connect with, join, and enjoy serving in the project.
As followers of Christ, we are the feet and hands to His love. How will people see the love God has for them if we don’t become Do Something Churches and reach out in a practical way?
Miles McPherson, a former NFL player with the San Die-go Chargers, is the Senior Pastor of the Rock Church and Academy in San Diego, California. To learn more, visit MilesMcpherson.com. You can follow Miles on Facebook at FB.com/Pastor.Miles.McPherson, or on Twitter at Twitter.com/MilesMcpherson.
Join McPherson for a one-day Do Something Church Outreach Summit March 8, 2013 at the Rock Church in San Diego. You’ll learn how to analyze the needs of your community, develop ministries to serve your area, and raise up leaders. Plus you’ll take home a customized plan and receive ongoing support from the DSC team! For more information, visit http://dosomethingchurch.org/summit/