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Servefest 2007 · 28 September 2007

For weeks now, I have been trying to imaging what it would be like to drive up to Cascade Community Church on Sunday and find its parking lot empty and the doors locked. I thought that I would find the church this way on August 19, 2007.


The reason that I thought the church would be locked up was because several churches in the area had decided to reach out and serve the communities where they are located. Members from Monroe Community Chapel, Crosswater Community Church, Cascade, and other churches in the area fanned out to do different projects. They helped renovate a home for Housing Hope (http://www.housinghope.org/), a non-profit organization that helps people with a dream of owning their own homes get into affordable housing. They helped update buildings for Take the Next Step (http://www.thenextstepmonroe.org/mainpage.html), an organization dedicated to minister to families in need. They even helped clean up and do other projects at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Monroe School District, and the cities of Monroe and Sultan.


I had planned on going to the church in the morning to see it how it looked empty on a Sunday but I did not wake up in time. However, I know that instead of finding a locked building, people who went to church as normal found greeters who helped send people out to projects that needed workers. Those who arrived and had not known about the service projects or were not dressed for some dirty work, were given an opportunity to put together packages for the homeless in the community. And of course, I know that there were people ready to talk about the church and about God.


I wondered why these area churches decided to serve the community rather than just have normal worship services on Sunday so I talked with the Community Care Pastor at Cascade Community Church. We talked via email and in person about this project that has taken on a life of its own.


What I found out was that Servefest is not a unique phenomenon. Christian Churches around the country have been reaching out to their communities doing real work for real people. One of the shining examples in this country is Steve Sjogren (http://www.servantevangelism.com) who spoke at an outreach conference a couple years ago. This Ohio pastor and the pastors of many other churches have challenged their congregations to reach out in simple ways to those around them. This reaching out is a demonstration of God’s love and fits the model of Inside Out that the preachers at Cascade have been speaking and living for at least the past year and a half. It is a natural outgrowth of living in God’s power, wisdom, and love.


I for one do not find it odd that Christ-followers would reach out in love along with other Christ-followers from different churches and maybe even different denominations. But the reality is that there is not always unity within a body of churches much less the single body of a congregation. The reality is that we see the bad examples of any group and put those character traits on all those associated with that group. The reality is that Christians are not perfect. Just forgiven. And the reality is that they are supposed to show that forgiveness through service to God and others as many did on August 19 during Servefest 2007. Despite the rain which soaked many to the bone.


Although the effects of the day of service will surely be felt long after the day ended, the last official part of Servefest 2007 was a celebration at Fryelands Elementary School. It was like a different day with the sun shining on the people who served. They gathered for food and fellowship in a carnival atmosphere. There were a couple music programs. People talked to each other and laughed about their experiences building, fixing, painting, weeding, cleaning, and harvesting, or putting together packages for the homeless. The celebration which featured free food and a carnival atmosphere was accentuated by a dunk tank featuring pastors from the participating churches. It was a great way to end a day of true Christian service.


I am glad that our church and several others in the area were “closed” on a rainy Sunday in August. I am glad that over 1000 of us got dirty and wet with our children and served our community in some small way. I am glad that several churches in the community decided to tell their members to go out and serve rather than being served. I am sure that being crazy Christians and doing something outlandish like serving without hope or expectation of reward will be noticed by a few people. If not, God saw.


Servefest 2007 was more than I imagined. It was great seeing adults and children working and celebrating together. I look forward to Servefest 2008 and more people and churches joining in serving God through serving the community.

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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