Community Ministry – Role Models by Reynold Friesen

Drawing connections between unlike things is something I take pleasure in.  Two random experiences today, although dissimilar, seemed to be tied together with a common thread.

In the heat of our Annual Campership Fundraiser I was inside the kitchen near a door, a neighbourhood mom rushed in looking for another plate to serve.  Under her breath, without really saying it to anyone, she said, “there are so many amazing people out there.”  I can only guess what gave her this impression.  Was it the smiling faces?  The buzz around the tables?  The gratitude?  The patience of “customers” waiting for their perogies?   Whatever it was, her impression of Bethel was positive!

Later that evening, sitting around the dinner table, our family’s supper conversation drifted towards a certain preschooler at Bethel who looks up to our boys.  We talked about role modeling and how we must always be conscious of how our actions and words are observed by others.

I am often privileged to hear comments like the one at the fundraiser; to be the recipient of a neighbour’s perspective of our congregation. Our new “I Love Bethel” video shares other such voices. Words such as “uplifting”, “welcome” and “generous” are used to describe us.  While attending Harrow School’s parent council a few years into community ministry, one parent memorably said, “I’m an atheist and I love your church.”

Obviously we must not let these words give birth to pride; we need to hold these sentiments with a great deal of humility. It is warming to know we as a church community are moving in the right direction, we are role modelling the generous love of Jesus Christ. But in a world where the church receives a lot of bad PR and there are many people whose impression of the church is not positive, we must continue to consider what we model in our neighbourhood and larger society, seeking to emulate the grace and generosity of Jesus Christ.

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.”

Colossians 2:1-8