What a beautiful sight it was to see all of our volunteers and ministry leaders at Launch Day this year. I remember the days when our entire church could fit in a living room, and now our volunteer crew could fill a church!
One of the things that made that little living room church exceptional was that when we gathered leaders, it was the same sized group. Because it was the same group of people! Everyone was involved in some way. From the earliest days we had the idea that all of us who are called to follow Christ have also been called to serve others. That's why Highrock got started in the first place.
From the beginning, our goal was not a church for ourselves, but for our neighbors. It would have been easier for the founders to keep their little small group if their primary interest was in themselves, but their interest was in their friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers who have no idea who God is or who they are - and how much God loves them. It was more than caring about others’ spiritual growth. God had given them a passion for the lonely, the left out, and the people who wouldn’t fit in at churches that were so often divided by ethnicity or language. At that time, their workplaces, classrooms, and neighborhoods were not nearly as segregated as their churches were — so it was very hard to invite a coworker to church, because language and culture would have gotten in the way long before they had a chance to meet Christ.
It was out of that passion and prayers for those people that Highrock began, indeed; and so our vision was born:
To see God transforming every neighborhood and institution in Greater Boston through locally-focused congregations who live and love in such a compelling and Christ-like way that our neighbors are challenged to seriously consider the claims of Christ, be reconciled to God, engage in Christian community, and serve others in the unique ways God designed them to, so that Boston becomes a “city on a hill” that will be a blessing to the world.
That is what volunteers at Highrock are doing. You’re not just babysitting a group of 6-year-olds who seem more interested in talking about farts than faith. You’re not just organizing games for teenagers, playing songs or clicking slides for Sunday services, or baking cookies in the kitchen.
You are reaching a city and a generation
That dream seemed almost ridiculous to talk about 17 years ago, but thousands of people later, after hundreds of baptisms, with seven congregations and more on the way, that claim doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. I am so proud of the commitment that volunteers make at Highrock to doing something different. To being interested in more than their own worship experience. To wanting to make a difference for others.
You are making a difference
Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way — especially in February, when it’s 14° outside, your car is covered in an inch of ice, and you’re lying in bed, knowing it’s time to get up and get going. In those moments, it’s easy to wonder whether any of this matters; whether your volunteer role makes a difference.
Sometimes our individual parts can feel sort of small, or a little fruitless. But imagine this – imagine an aorta complaining that, "All I do is pump blood all day, and as soon as I squeeze a bit through, there's more right behind it — we’re getting nowhere! I'm not making any difference at all!” But in a body, an aorta plays a very important part, even if you don't see it very often. The mouth, eyes, and hands might get all the attention, but nothing happens if the aorta decides to take a day off!
One reason I decided to write this today is that I don't want you to be vulnerable to the evil one's discouragement. I want you to see that your small part may get more or less attention than others, but all of our parts are essential if we are going to fulfill the vision God has called us to. And you are a part of a very large body, each working quietly toward one goal: serving God by serving others.
Your gift, your time, your love, they matter. They make a difference — even if you don't see it
A few months ago I asked all of the Swaim kids who they think of as a hero — someone they want to be more like. I might've expected them to answer "Steph Curry" or "Mark Zuckerberg”, but to my surprise every single kid named someone in our church. It was their Kidsrock leader; it was a person in the band who seems really cool; it was their youth group leaders. My kids are watching you — and more than watching, they are building their lives based on what they see in you. So what you do, and the way you live, is so important.
Ministry leaders and volunteers are the tip of the spear. Many people think it is me or the other pastors or staff, but the truth is that you who lead small groups, lead Kidsrock, lead worship, welcome people at the door, and live for Christ in your workplace, classroom, or neighborhood are going to have much deeper interaction with the people around you than the pastors will. You will be the ones God uses to lead, challenge, encourage, and serve. You are doing God’s work.
All Highrock members are called to be ministers because all of us are leading people one direction or another every single day — and I want you to know that you are not doing this alone. You are a small, but essential, part of a much larger body. The body needs every part — and we need to work together in harmony. But more than that, we are not on our own. God’s own Holy Spirt — the Spirit that was in Jesus — now lives in us!
Friends, a baseball bat in my hands can’t do much. But a baseball bat in Ortiz’s hands can hit grand slams all day! Likewise, on our own, we’re not much. It’s easy to get discouraged. But we’re not on our own, and in Jesus’ hands, we can be used to do things that will matter forever.
I pray that as we follow Jesus together, and serve people in His name, that He may work through us to transform people in ways beyond what we could ever think to ask for or imagine.