Lungs heaving, saturated with perspiration, and spattered with mud; it is not the way you would usually expect to find yourself at the end of a Sunday morning Baptist service. But that’s how many of the folk at Glenfield Baptist Church have found themselves as they have participated in community service activities each quarter for the past 18 months.

Following a brief time of worship and prayer, our senior pastor is fond of saying, “Remember, today you are the sermon,” as the little groups become the Church in Action among the community. Clearing overgrown sections, picking up rubbish, painting, planting native shrubs, and trimming hedges have been some of the outdoor activities undertaken. Back at home base, those who are not physically able to take on the rough stuff have joined in preparing gift boxes and food parcels, writing notes in greeting cards, and of course praying. 

Not all of the congregation has taken part: getting your hands dirty doesn’t fit everyone’s idea of Sunday worship. It’s different, messy, and even a bit dangerous. Those of us who have taken part did so with some trepidation initially, especially when it came to doorknocking associated with the foodbank drive. 

The pairs or threesomes nervously approached the first door not knowing what sort of reception to expect—perhaps an angry dog or an even angrier householder. “No, not interested,” was often the loud, first-sight response. But on hearing a brief explanation of the blessing that a can of beans or suchlike would bring to a neighbourhood family in need, a rapid change of heart often resulted and the joy of giving was entered into. For those of us on the doorknocking teams, it was a blessing to be connecting with our neighbours as well as making a difference. 

How do we know of these folk in need in our North Shore community? Mainly it is through word of mouth and referrals to our Christians Against Poverty budgeting centre. They might be a neighbour, a workmate, an elderly person, a solo parent, a person with special needs, or a new immigrant. All are glad to receive the love of Jesus through our hands. ‘You are the sermon’ doesn’t necessarily mean that we preach as we work. Rather, through our labours, we connect, fill up the water jars, and bring them to Jesus for him to turn into wine.

Story: Grant Pollock, Growth Group Leader, Glenfield Baptist Church