At least twice a year, we gather everyone together and send out hundreds of people into our community to share God's love through simple acts of service. Servefest isn't about promoting our church or even evangelizing openly, it's not about passing out tracts or attracting attention to ourselves- Servefest is designed to be purely free, kind-hearted service, no strings attached, nothing but shining our lights as Christ-followers and making God's name glorious in our community!
Servefest...is all about blessing those around us, NO STRINGS ATTACHED!
Because of the great joy God has given ME, I want to bless YOU - here's a free bottle of cold water on a hot day! Here's a free gas card - it's just...FREE. You don't have to DO anything - just take it - enjoy it! Let me mow your grass. Watch your kids. Hand you a warm bowl of soup on a chilly fall day. It's all about blessing those around us, NO STRINGS ATTACHED! We do the serving - God does the work - and people WILL ask us why, people WILL want to know more, they WILL show up at our church- but those are bonuses, side-effects of pure loving hearts focused outward. It's a God-thing.
In the last few years, we have partnered with CityVision to offer a City-Wide Servefest in October of each year - many area churches send teams all over central Ohio to form a GREAT cloud of witnesses flooding our city with the blessings of God. Often a thousand people or more fan out across the city - raking, painting, cooking, planting, hammering, hosting- you name it, we do it. So much fun!
To visit the official Servefest website visit servefestcolumbus.com. Some resources to help you with this whole "Servant-Evangelism" thing include Conspiracy of Kindness, or really anything by Steve Sjogren, Outreach Magazine, CincyVineyard's ServeCincinnati, Little Rock's ShareFest - or just google Servant Evangelism to learn more!
- How do I sign up to serve?
- What if I am not in a group or my group can't participate?
- How Do I Get One of Those Really Cool Servefest T-Shirts?
- Can I Bring My Kids?
- What If I Get There and Hate My Job - or there's a PROBLEM??
- At My Location, Someone Asks for MONEY- what do I DO??
- This Job is WAAAAAYYYY More Than We Thought It Would Be!!
- I Need to Buy More Supplies - How Do We Handle the Money Thing??
- I Keep Serving People and They Keep Asking Me about Jesus - is that okay??
- My Project was GREAT- Can I Volunteer All Year ‘Round??
- I...uhhh.....Think My Project was..a..a...a....ummmm.....Bad FIT??
The Missions & Outreach office sets up projects about a month or so before the event. Small groups may sign up as a group about 3 weeks early - this gives the group time to spread the word and get organized. We promote the Small Group signup as a way to sub-organize so that 500 individual people don't call for a project- it's just a smart way to work the system! Small Group Leaders should get a bulk email listing all of the projects - they can then ask their group about skills, preferences, etc and choose their project. In the fall, you can sign onto the Servefest Columbus website and grab a project on-line- they do everything but do the work for you!
Show up on Servefest Saturday morning, ready to serve. Look at the Project Categories arranged in the lobby - choose yardwork, repair & rehab, food projects, give-aways, etc - look over the open projects, pick your favorite, grab a map and instruction sheet, and a LUNCH, and head off to WORK!
Pick up one in the weeks before in the lobby or on Servefest Saturday morning- wear your shirt to show "team spirit" and to identify yourself as a legitimate Servefest volunteer - think of it as a security badgeJ Keep it for future events - if you take a new one every fall and spring we will run out - and have to buy more.
Some agencies have age restrictions, some are common sense - we probably DON'T want toddlers pouring cement but teenagers are fine. Look for projects marked FAMILY FRIENDLY- these are projects where kids can actually help or may even be a bonus- yardwork is usually pretty good for kids as are nursing homes. Homeless shelters and roof repair - not so much....
First of all, it's good to get all freaked out and uncomfortable and scared to death- that will stretch you and God can work in your heart! If you sign-up to paint and you get there and they ask you to clean toilets, you just SMILE and grab the toilet brush. You are here to SERVE, with a good attitude - and it's only a few hours - soon it will be a really funny story - trust me! If you get to a location and there has been an obvious communication break-down, call the emergency number on your project sheet and someone will help you. Look around in the area for some other way to serve- maybe God will direct you to a very cool "surprise" project!
Servefest rules 1 - 3 are : 1) Never Give Out Cash 2) Never Give Out Cash and 3) Never Give Out Cash - Never give out cash, no matter how sad the story, how good the actor, how poor the children, how bad the situation, never give out cash! Ninety-three per cent of the time, you are buying booze or drugs with your kind heart. You can buy food if you are so moved, you can put $5 worth of gas in their car, you can give them YOUR Servefest lunch - just don't hand out cash. Secondly, keep an eye on your possessions - don't wear a diamond on every hand or Polo from head to toe, don't park your Beamer on the front step - it may be gone when you return! Don't even BRING your purse- or your expensive camera - or your I-Pod. If you are going to the inner city, THINK AHEAD- don't be a victim.Conversely, don't walk around the neighborhood assuming everyone you meet is a thief or crack dealer- be respectful, just not gullible! You will often land in a very cross-cultural situation - enjoy our differences and learn from them!
You know how it is at home, you buy a new rug, then you need new furniture and have to repaint the whole first floor - same thing happens on Servefest day. You sign up to lay floor tile in a bathroom and when you get there either the sub-floor needs replaced first OR you are asked to do the floor, the drywall, and the ceiling tiles. Have the most skilled person on your team decide how to proceed- sometimes you can go back another day and do more, sometimes your group feels like doing more - but overall, your goal is to complete the original task on Saturday and leave feeling successful, not feeling like you should have done more. Call the emergency number if there is a GIGANTIC problem.
If it's a few dollars, maybe up to $50 or so, not a problem. Ask the volunteers to pitch in a few bucks or turn the receipt in to the Missions Office for reimbursement if need be. If it's a LOT of money, say over $50-100 or so, call the emergency number on your project sheet and have someone approve funds for that. If funds are available, spend away - if not, you might have to take up a collection among your volunteers, ask the homeowner/agency if that is something they could provide- worst case scenario, if you buy without approval, you just made a GREAT donation - we CANNOT reimburse without prior approval or our budget will be empty in a matter of minutes L
Of course, that is ultimately the reason behind everything we do - bringing seekers into fellowship with the Great & Glorious God! We don't want YOU standing on a corner beating people over the head with your big Bible and looking all condemning and self-righteous - we want the JOY of serving God to shine through you like a beacon, drawing people to you, loving them until they ask WHY! Your big smile and kind service will draw people to God - you come PREPARED to "give an answer for the HOPE that is in you!" Ask God for "divine appointments" then be ready when they appear! Be ready to pray with people, to comfort them, to offer them hope- whatever the question, Jesus is ALWAYS the answer!
Ahhhh- you caught us - giving you a small dose of service until you beg for more! We hope you will have such a great time serving others, that it will become a lifestyle, not just twice a year when your wife MAKES you serve! Think of the agencies all over town who struggle to provide care to so many hurting people- can we spare an hour away from the TV to help? Can we mow our neighbor's lawn - slip a single mom a gift card for some extra groceries - play BINGO down at the Nursing Home? Service helps others, but honestly, it sure makes US feel good!
So everyone told you how great this serving thing was and you gave it a try - and hated every minute of it! Have I flunked- am I a bad servant? What do I do now? Don't worry - this happens now & again. Maybe you tried a rehab job and you are just not so good with tools. Try a food job next time- or yardwork. Maybe you need a place where you can interact more with people - or less! Maybe nursing homes are just not for you - try working with teens or immigrants or little kids. The point is - everyone is different, one size does NOT fit all. Keep trying until you find something that "floats your boat!" You can do it!