Serving the church as a whole

May 2016, I quit my job at Chick-fil-A and decided to pursue being in ministry as my full-time gig.  The avenue I chose for this was to be a missionary.  My destination?  Alaska.  A missionary means “sent one.”  Missionaries often serve in various different roles.  Yet, what they have in common is the desire to overcome obstacles, dedicate themselves to praying and teaching the word, venture somewhere, and are sent by their home church.  For a good biblical read on what a missionary is, bookmark this blog: Is Everyone a Missionary?  During my first year in Alaska, I learned that some people don’t fully comprehend what a missionary means for today.  If you would like to know more about what I do personally, read my e-mail update: Bringing Clarity.

During the Summer of 2017, I discovered a second concept that appeared to be uncommon as well: serving the church as a whole.  When I say the “church as a whole,” I am emphasizing involvement beyond the church where you attend.  To help explain what I mean, let’s start with two examples of what I’m not talking about.  Example one: I was a part of Chosen Generation, a youth and young adult conference in Reading, PA.  The people I served with behind the event were from various different churches.  The same applied to those who attended.   Example two: Here in the Copper River Valley, we have the Wrangler Mountain Bible Conference.  A joint conference where everyone puts aside their differences to seek the Lord together, as one body of Christ rather than a single church.  I love seeing churches coming together like this to get behind local events.

Now think of serving beyond the neutral events like conferences.  Would you volunteer at another church’s event to help it become a success?  Even if it means that your church/ministry/etc gets no recognition nor growth in members?  Would you come alongside another church that you do not attend so that the Kingdom of God can advance?  Would you serve in someone else’s youth ministry?  If you do, it is a humbling experience.  It forces you to put, well, you and anything you represent aside for the Kingdom of God.

Here is one example of what I am talking about.  Two summers ago, I helped with a local Vacation Bible School in Copper Center.  I assisted Todd, the local Lutheran minister, and the missionary team that came from Michigan.  Unbeknownst to me, my involvement and two other ladies from a LightShine team filled a bigger need than we anticipated.  Through the week we served with Todd & with his wife.  We loved on the kids to help the program along and helped staff the different age groups.  In a short amount of time, I was able to see Todd’s heart for the people of this valley.  It was a blessing to serve with someone like that for a week.  Want to know the best part about this VBS?  It was an amazing program that taught about Jesus, who He is as our fortress, healer, and Savior.  The kids learned they have the victory in Him while lessons connecting the Old Testament to the New Testament were taught.  I look forward to serving with them again.

Serving the church as a whole is what I do here in the Valley.  Here is another example, previously mentioned in my newsletter and speaking engagements.  I became a part of a Community Junior Youth Group my first Winter here.  Glennallen Community Jr. Youth Group has a solid group of leaders.  However, due to everyone’s jobs and the nature of needing to travel for work or things like supplies, an extra dedicated leader was helpful.  The ministry met in the main leaders’ home on Mondays after school.  It followed the school schedule so it was on break during school vacation time (including summer break).  Summer of 2017, the main leaders graciously allowed me to stay in their trailer as I tried to find a more permanent solution to my housing need.  During that time, I learned the junior youth group was under the covering of Glennallen Community Chapel.  GCC is one of the 14 churches in this Valley.  They also host Awana during the school year.  This is another community ministry I assist with – giving kids rides to kids from Tazlina Village.  During my first year here I also volunteered at the local radio station, KCAM.  I stopped by for a few hours each week when I was free to help them clean.  I continue to find local opportunities like these and come alongside existing ministries/churches to help their vision/ministry be a success.

LightShine is an interdenominational ministry….read more.  I serve as a youth minister under a ministry that serves the church of Alaska as a whole.  They do this primarily through short-term building projects.  However, they also seek to build long-term relationships with those who live here.  Seek out opportunities where churches have a need, and then become a part of the solution.  By attending a church’s main service, meeting with the pastor, or checking out their events I am able to learn of ways I could bolster their vision.  I understand what I do is not meant for everyone.  But it is a core part of what God has called me to do in the Copper River Valley.  During the summer months, church members often have to travel for long periods in order to find work.  Or they are working long hours putting in overtime.  This makes it difficult for a small church to put together a simple event like a Vacation Bible School or host their own youth group.  I look forward to continuing to working not only with Mt. Drum Lutheran or Glennallen Chapel, but with all of the churches here in the Copper River Valley.

Ephesians 4: 4-7 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (ESV)

*Updated 11/11/2018
Q1: “Do you attend <insert church I’m helping> now?”
(example: Mt. Drum Lutheran)

Q2: “Are you a part of that <insert ministry I’m helping> now?”
(example: KCAM – local Christian radio station)

A1&A2:  “No, but let me tell you how I serve the church as a whole and why it’s important to me.”

Author:  A.P. Smither
Editor:  P.J. Walk


6 thoughts on “Serving the church as a whole

  1. Great article!!! The Lord wants us to work together as one body in Christ- in unity, loving and serving one another with the love of Christ!!!

  2. Andrew … I learned of you from my Pastor at Church, Chris Swansen, Calvary Chapel Chester springs. I can say you are the first Missionary that I have ever committed to pray for faithfully (4 months now). I am a US ARMY Vet who served in Iraq and many other places and know the hardship of being so far away from home and also the freedom too.

    My Wife and I help out with addicts and Alcoholics here in Chester springs PA at our church so your work is near to my heart. I can not commit to giving a lot but I will try in the near future as we live check to check. But I will commit to prayer for you faithfully. I have been for months now and i feel like it has blessed me more than you. You see this old man has been reading your blog and updates looking at your pictures silently in the background. I am tired of being silent as God stretches me and I prepare to go on my first mission trip to China.

    Stay strong Andrew! During the dark times and also the quiet times. Draw close to Jesus and he will draw close to you. Stay close to the word of God and steer people to it, and you will see God do wonders. Simply teach the Bible simply and it will serve you well my friend.

    Tony Babcock

    1. Tony, I am encouraged by your words. They are more timely than you know. Thank you for taking the time to let me know. I don’t get many comments on this blog so I never know the reach it has after I post new content. I value Calvary Chapel’s support so much. They have been very faithful to my mission endeavors. I love their heart for missions.

      Knowing you have been praying for me these last 4 months is huge. As these past 4 months have been one of the toughest seasons for me personally since coming here. Our community experienced a lot of death with a police shooting and a string of suicides. For me personally, my health has not been doing well, I was having a lot of setbacks financially as well as spiritually. It encourages me to know that I have a brother in the Lord who is faithfully covering my back as I press onward.

      I will be praying for your trip to China! Definitely one of the places I’d like to visit someday.

      I am committing to posting a new blog every Tuesday. I also have a quarterly and monthly newsletter I send out via e-mail.

      1. Well I really am looking forward to reading them. You can bet I will be in prayer for your health as God continues to grow you. I am so sorry for not responding to your posts much sooner. You have blessed me with them and I have been doing a disservice to you by not letting you know that I have been here all along. I won’t be silent any longer. Thank you Andrew for being so obedient to what God has called you to do. I am here if you ever need to bend my ear. Not that I have all of the answers, because I don’t, but I am a good listener and have some wisdom I have gleaned off of others.

      2. Your words continue to bless me. No need to feel sorry, your comments appearing now are very timely. I will be posting a blog next week about this transition period I have found myself in. I am glad to know you have my back Tony. And I’m sure I’ll take you up on that offer sometime!

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