Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Servolution Challenge

Over the past month Watermark did a Servolution Challenge.  Robin and I had in our hearts to take personal finances (and that of a few of our friends) and give every adult that wanted to participate €40.  Their mission was to multiply it and go creatively serve our city.  We had 60 people accept the challenge!

We even got some positive press coverage from the regional newspaper (which is not normal for independent churches).  And at least two other churches (in other parts of Germany) and one nation-wide campus ministry are going to do their own version of our Servolution Challenge!

Here is a quick synopsis of SOME (not all) of the things they did:
  • Gave Christmas presents, school supplies, books, clothes and house shoes to needy children.
  • Gave an after school program craft supplies .
  • Served volunteer firefighters breakfast.
  • Presented nursing home residents with roses.
  • Served staff NICU nurses breakfast.
  • Baked goodies for local school teachers.
  • Baked homemade cookies & muffins for a halfway house (last phase before their final release from prison) and then left flowers and 10 envelopes with IKEA gift certificates.
  • Handed out chocolate to the homeless guys in the city.
  • Took chocolate bars to the cleaning staff of the trains.
  • Delivered toys, games, Hula hoops and sidewalk chalk for a program that works with children.
  • Homeless people were given diapers, food and toiletries.
  • Helped a single unemployed mother of 3 with train cards for her kids, household items and helped her find a job!
  • Bought people at a homeless shelter groceries and household items.
  • Bought cooking utensils and a vent for a youth home so the youth can cook without a smoke-filled room.
  • Bought groceries for a known beggar who has 7 children to care for.
  • Handed out free train tickets at the station.
  • Put a case of Starbucks coffee in the fridge for hospital staff with encouraging sayings attached.
  • One team went around the city and gave flower bouquets and Cokes to all of the toilet cleaning staff at the businesses and restaurants.
  • Served a crowded refugee home by playing games with their children. They caught soap bubbles, drew w/sidewalk chalk, and painted. They talked with all of the parents and gave them coffee, chocolate, toys, pens and food.
  • Gave out board games to non-profit group that volunteers to watch intercultural children after school.
  • Gave a bag with bread, drink, eggs and flowers to a begging woman.
  • Gave a man with a big hole in his leg a bag with food, antiseptic compresses and a train ticket home.
  • Gave an unemployed shepherd a bag with dog food, some muffins and a drink.
  • Served some “punks” soft drinks and cinnamon rolls.
  • Gave workers of a special bus with a coke and some pretzels.
  • Delivered a bag of dog food to another group of “punks” sitting with a dog.
Thanks to all those that gave and those that prayed!  Keep up the good work... you ARE making a HUGE difference!

A special thanks to Phil Burton and City Mission Kaiserslautern for helping birth this vision in us and for being cheerleaders along the way!

PS. As a grand finale we did a city-wide American Easter Egg Hunt for Freiburg.  More info & a video in our next post.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Organic small groups

We have been looking at our small group program lately.  Honestly, it's not much of a program.  Programs require work, organization, finances and publicity.  We decided from the beginning that at Watermark small groups would be encouraged, but not managed.  Actually, we've even challenged our people to start their own groups.  I told them that if they need "official permission", they now have it!

We believe that being a part of a group of people that love you, pray for you and that keep you accountable is very important.  This is where authentic relationships exist, which is our first core value.

We have one group of young German University students (girls) that meet in a pub. A bilingual, co-ed group meets in a dorm.  A group of guys meets at different places (with the motto "What is said in this room stays this room").  And we have groups that just get together every now and then, like our worship team.  They like to jam together and perform publicly as a group, as well as watching each others' gigs.  The only group that we initiated is a teaching-style Bible study.

Yes, this is giving away control.  And it could potentially allow a group of people to head off in the wrong direction.  But is leadership really all about control?  Or is it more about equipping, imparting into and releasing people to do what God has called THEM to do?

By allowing leaders to lead naturally, instead of us creating a structure and putting them over a group, we allow their leadership gifts and talents to be developed.  We don't have to provide the direction, energy or structure to keep things going.  And never forget if the true leaders that God sends you aren't given a chance to lead within your church, they will go somewhere else.

Besides, if we'll just keep the team focused on our core values and our mission, those that want to hijack the vision won't gain the influence necessary to do so.

This church is really a lifeline and a family for our people. We don’t really have a lot of rules or organization, but we have a team that is so amazing... they take initiative and just make things happen. As the team grows, our people are taking others under their wings and “mentoring” them in a very natural and organic way. It is exciting to see something working very well that was only a dream 18 months ago.