By Shawn McMullen
The church I serve has invested heavily in projects and events that connect our congregation with the community. We’ve held events to honor schoolteachers and law enforcement officers. We’ve sponsored sports teams and organized free soccer clinics. We’ve held family-friendly events on our property and hosted a fall festival for the entire community. God has blessed our efforts and our church has grown as a result.
But recently we’ve been thinking differently about how we connect with the unchurched. Without abandoning the community events approach, we began to ask if there were other ways we could represent Christ in our area.
We considered Jesus’ call to servanthood: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). We reflected on his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. . . . But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4). Jesus’ twin calls to service and secrecy resonated with us.
We planned a new outreach event as a result. We called it “Secret Service Saturday.” Our goal was to minister to our community by serving the needs of individuals and families in meaningful yet unassuming ways.
Most of the outreach events we planned in the past had been widely publicized. But on this occasion, we chose to make our plans and perform our acts of service in quiet—even secretive—ways, trusting our approach would make a lasting impact on our community and bring honor to God.
We asked individuals and families to form teams and identify a need in the community. Each team was asked to plan its own approach to service.
One team delivered food to our local fire and police stations. Another family did yard work for a neighbor. Two families joined forces and repainted the markings on the outdoor basketball court of our local elementary school. A group of men cooked and served meals for a community event. Still another group built and painted new benches for our local soccer league. Our teens cleaned trash and debris from the town park.
After the event, I asked members of our church how they felt about their participation in Secret Service Saturday. One parent said, “I enjoyed working side by side with my family to serve our community and glorify God.” Another adult remarked, “I love the fact that we all chose to serve without drawing attention to ourselves or our acts of service.”
The event was a resounding success and everyone in our congregation seems to agree: Secret Service Saturday is a keeper—an opportunity to serve others in Christ’s name, trusting God to see and reward as only he can.