SERVING IN ACTION
In a world where many in our own communities are hurting and struggling, there is an opportunity for us as the body of Christ to come together and serve those who may have a physical need. Through this act of service, we have an open doorway to share the gospel with those who may not know Jesus and pray with them, fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, and invite others to come and walk with us as we grow in our relationship with Jesus.
But how do we know when someone in our community has a need and how can we, as the body of Christ, come together to fulfill a need? What follows comes from our guidebook and it will take you step-by-step through the processes needed to establish an AOF serving ministry at your church. These resources will also help prepare your AOF leaders and volunteers with a simple and practical way to share the gospel and give you the tools needed to help mentor others, make disciples, and train up more mentors.
...But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Download AOF Free Guidebook
This free guidebook will take you step-by-step through the processes needed to establish an AOF serving ministry at your church. This guidebook will also help prepare your AOF leaders and volunteers with a simple and practical way to share the gospel and give you the tools needed to help mentor others, make disciples, and train up more mentors.
Remember, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Too often we assume the only task a believer has in sharing the gospel is to show up and deliver the message with words. We ignore that our actions also tell a story and if our actions do not display a lifestyle of love, our words sound empty to hurting people. As believers, we can shine the light of Christ by helping someone in need. Volunteers can be organized to meet many types of physical needs.
Examples may include: home maintenance/repair, home cleaning or decluttering, yard work, help with moving, computer repair, vehicle repair, sewing/mending, financial budgeting, providing health and wellness related necessities such as food, clothing and shoes, haircuts, school supplies… etc.
Fulfilling Physical Needs through AOF
Enabling People within the Community to Contact AOF for Help
There are many people within our own churches and communities who may be struggling and in need. And there are many ways to allow people to communicate a need. Most importantly, there must be a willingness and readiness to serve and meet physical needs. It wont matter if you have the most sleek, streamlined software that notifies you of needs; if you do not act on the needs to serve them joyfully, people will get the picture that you do not want to really serve them, but rather that you like the idea of meeting physical needs.
Scripture gives a chilling warning to believers and churches who like the idea of helping but fail to put their words into action:
“14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14-17, emphasis added).
So to begin, take a good look at your hearts and assess your motivation. This ministry can give incredible fruit and opportunity for a church. Serving can also encourage the growth of members and reinspire the spiritual walk of a person who is wayward.
But this also means you are willing to get down and dirty serving needs that are less than glamorous. If at the end of this assessment you are ready and willing, here are some ways to let people know you are there to serve.
Verbal Announcements at Your Church
First, verbal announcements at your church is a good way to let people know of the ministry not only to be served, but also for an invitation to join in on serving. You can also set up an AOF tab on your church’s website. This will allow people to be able to reach out for help by placing a phone call, email or text to the AOF director at your church. Software such as Touch Point may also be used which will allow people to notify the church of their specific need and enter their contact information so the director can reach out to them. Creating flyers or bulletin inserts are other ways to get information to the church and that can also be used to encourage church members to share with their friends and neighbors. Finally, as you move about your own neighborhood—whether this is the neighborhood you live in or if this is the church neighborhood—as you see needs you can approach people with this ministry.
Assessing the Requests for Help and Making Initial Contact with the Recipient
AOF is dedicated to helping people with a hand up, not a handout. It is not merely about fulfilling the physical need, it is about addressing the condition of the heart. In many cases, a handout will only enable the recipient to continue living in a broken state. It is important to prayerfully consider all need requests and seek the Lord for discernment before proceeding.
Be Prompt. Be Thorough. Be Prayer-minded. Involve the Community.
When a request for help comes in, the director of AOF should contact the person within 24 hours. Information on the specific need should be collected. The person may be sharing an immediate need, but there may be a deeper hurt that should also be addressed to truly help this person. It is important not to make any promises until all information is gathered. Take a moment to pray with the person. Ask them if they have any family members who are able to help. Ask them if they attend/belong to a church family and if so whether they have asked for help. If they do have a church family but have not yet asked for help, encourage them to do so and offer to walk alongside them through the process. If further information is needed, the AOF director may want to set up a face-to-face meeting with the person. It is important that the director always brings someone else along to the meeting especially if the meeting will be with a person of the opposite sex. Pray with the person, share the gospel with them and always point them to Christ.
If the request made is for financial help, it is important to offer assistance with putting together a personal monthly budget before offering a financial handout. Once the proper financial advice has been offered, financial help may be offered to the recipient if AOF at your church is set up with a financial budget and if the Lord directs you to do so.
Once the Lord has given clear direction on the best way to help the recipient, the director may proceed in one of two ways. An AOF project workday can be organized to fulfill the need or the director may connect the recipient with others in the community who may be able to help such as other ministries, non-profits, county workers, government agencies or skilled individuals in the area.
Establishing a Pool of Volunteers and Project Leaders
When establishing an AOF ministry at your church, church leadership can inform parishioners about the ministry and the need for volunteers and project leaders. Those who are interested in volunteering can go to the AOF tab on the church website or via a sign up sheet in the church building to sign up, depending on what method you choose to implement. Those who sign up will then receive emails from the director when there is an opportunity to serve. Volunteers can also be found through word of mouth and personal invite from other volunteers. All volunteers are asked to pray about each request and whether they are able to participate by serving. They are also asked to pray for the individuals or families who have requested help and to pray for all volunteers.
The AOF director is encouraged to seek those from the volunteer list who are willing and able to be project leaders. These are people who can commit to organizing and leading volunteers on workdays. Project leaders will work with the director and oversee volunteers to make sure the need is met and follow-up is completed.
It is helpful for the director of AOF to compile a list of people in the community with specialty skills that can offer services such as haircuts, mechanical work, computer repair/programming, sewing, financial advice, construction, tree trimming… etc. This list may be referenced when specific requests for help come in that would require assistance in any of these areas. People on this list may be willing to help out at a discounted rate or even as a free service. The director may also find it helpful to compile a list of resources in the community such as food shelves, transportation, used furniture, mental health, thrift stores, disposal, housing, employment, legal help… etc., so they are able to guide people to the right place when they have a need in any of these areas.
Organizing Project Workday
The project workday is an exciting moment of sweating, exercise, camaraderie, and seeing God at work in ways you never thought possible. Here are some things to be mindful of to help make the service project as smooth as possible.
The AOF Director will assign a project leader for the workday, whether this is the AOF Director or another person they have placed in charge. The director will share all information collected so far with the project leader and give them access to the details which have been recorded. The director and project leader will set a date for the need to be met. The director will broadcast to the pool of volunteers with the date of the workday and what is needed. Volunteers can also be recruited through word of mouth by encouraging the recipient and volunteers to invite friends or family members to participate. The director and project leader should work together to ensure the proper amount of volunteers are secured for the workday. A couple days before the workday, the project leader or director will send a text to all volunteers with the time and address of the project along with any supplies or tools they may need to bring.
On the day of the project, the project leader should gather the recipient and all volunteers before beginning to work. Allow time for the group to pray before beginning the work and remind them that it’s not about the work or the need but it is all about Jesus. Be aware of the opportunity to have spiritual conversations during the workday. The project leader will also introduce the recipient to the volunteers. You should also be mindful to all the recipient an opportunity to share with the group if they feel led, many people are overwhelmed with gratitude that others are there to help them. At some point during the workday, the project leader or one of the volunteers should gather the group together to share the gospel with the recipient and the volunteers. It is important to note that while you are doing the work project, there will be other people in the area and other volunteers who may show up from the recipient’s group. These people are not there by mere chance. The project leader and volunteers should engage in conversation with them, ask if they need prayer, and share the gospel of salvation with them.
After the project
Within a few days after the completion of the project, the AOF director or project leader should meet with the recipient to follow up on the completed project. It is the goal of AOF to transition from “giving” recipients a fish to teaching them how to fish. At this meeting, discuss where they have been, where they are now, and where they are going. If a root problem is identified, help the recipient take some steps in the right direction to address the problem. This is a perfect opportunity to offer the recipient a mentor to walk alongside them and encourage them going forward. This also helps move this person into a deeper relationship with your church and hopefully into a relationship with God and consequentially, your body of believers.
Also, when you are at your follow up meeting, invite the recipient to sign up as a volunteer with AOF so they may have the opportunity to serve in upcoming projects. Many people want to give back and this is an easy way for them to show their appreciation as well as build deeper friendships with your other volunteers.
Finally, a six month follow-up should also be made with the recipient to check in with them and see how they are doing and a check-in with the mentor if one is assigned.
Tracking all Requests for Help, Projects Completed and Recipient Follow-ups
It is important to track all information on a platform such as Google Sheets for easy reference and to ensure organization. A spreadsheet can be set up to include:
Date request was received
Contact information of requester
Date of initial contact and information collected
Date of in-person meeting and additional information collected
Name of project leader assigned
Date of project workday(s) scheduled
Date of volunteer broadcast
Names of volunteers who are able to help
Project number and punch list
Workday(s) notes and project completion date
Miscellaneous notes such as money spent, items discarded or donated, other organizations involved, etc.
Contact info of mentor assigned to recipient
Date of initial recipient follow-up and notes
Contact info of mentor if assigned
Date of six month recipient follow-up and notes
We Are Here to Help
If you would like to know more about the details of how we do our AOF serving and how it can be done in your neighborhood or church we would love to hear from you! We do not want to merely add to the noise of programs in your life or church. We want serving, sharing the gospel, and discipleship to become the lifestyle of your life and church. We want to partner with you to accomplish this so please reach out and we would love to interact with you and your unique background and environment.