In 1955 Pittsburgh, there was an accident in a steel Mill. Perhaps there were lots of accidents in steel mills during that time, but this one changed the perspective on race in one man’s mind. Billy was working a fire in the mill. To make the fire hotter, a kind of lacquer was added to...
Showing items for 'Severn Run Life'
We’ve talked about why it’s important to serve (see Serving Part 1 here), and hopefully by now you’ve decided that either you need to start serving, or you just need to serve more. Most of us are in one of these two boats. There are a few people who serve a lot of their...
Why is it so difficult to have real conversation about our personal relationship with Jesus, especially with non-believers? When given the opportunity, we are quick to say that God has incredible power to transform lives, but we belittle the example of transformed life that we know the most...
To live as followers of Jesus, we must not ignore the example Jesus set. Jesus didn’t talk about religion in buildings. He didn’t spend his time in Torah studies discussing the merits of this teacher or that. Those things have their place…but more often than not during his...
People are apprehensive about serving at church. I know this because I’m one of them. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy as much of their weekend as they can in relaxation, right? Volunteering to spend all day Sunday at church can seem really daunting. The thing is, if we call...
Stephen Hord is taking life as a Severn Runner “On The Road” literally. Through the heat, through the pain, through the training, and by running races, he strives to raise a donation of $5000 to Severn Run’s On The Road campaign. This is his story. About two years ago, Stephen...
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) We are often reminded of our “first world problems” on days when things just don’t go right. The drive to work is...
Anthony Lyle is originally from Pittsburgh and moved to Maryland with a company for work. We asked him about his experiences with his connect group. Here's what he had to say... What is your occupation? I move furniture and perform sound system installations. I do a lot of sound work for...
I walked to the table and there he was. Amanuel Habtamu. Not smiling exactly, but looking expectant. Or maybe that’s just how I perceived his expression. I felt he looked expectant of me, of anybody, to follow the leading of their heart. His face seemed to say, “I am...
I guess I first should say that before I was ever a part of a small group I used to think that these groups were for “weird” or “religious” people. Even being an outgoing person by nature, I didn’t think it would be something I was comfortable participating...
In 1955 Pittsburgh, there was an accident in a steel Mill. Perhaps there were lots of accidents in steel mills during that time, but this one changed the perspective on race in one man’s mind.
Billy was working a fire in the mill. To make the fire hotter, a kind of lacquer was added to the flames. It only took an instant, once Billy added the lacquer, for the flames to leap up and engulf his arm. A man came to his rescue and as he lay in the hospital recovering from his own injuries, he recalled with great emotion, “The young lad was running, a ball of flames…I did all I could…” Billy’s father thanked him and later remarked, “I have a different heart and mind set about white people. Everybody stood there, frozen to the floor, but it was the white man who risked his life. He risked his life for my son and I have a different opinion now.”
Billy’s dad had faced many prejudices in his life. Not the least of which was the inequality he endured during his service in WWII. However, the selfless act of one person showed him that his ideas and opinions did not apply to an entire group of people. Sadly, Billy succumbed to his injuries and passed away. His accident though, was a catalyst for change in his family.
Billy’s sister, Arlene was profoundly impacted by her brother’s passing. Arlene went on to raise her five daughters with love in their hearts toward all people. Even though the community, school, and church where they lived was entirely black, many of the white teachers at their school were loving and poured encouragement and support into their lives. However, the girls did see and experience a lot of discrimination in the extended parts of their mostly-white church organization. It didn't stop them from worshiping with them or attending the events, but it helped them to learn how not to treat people.
Arlene worked at Teen Challenge year-round, and during the summers she took her five girls along with her. Patrice Lyle watched her mother minister with the love of Christ to people of all races. Because of this modeling, Patrice is driven to see and love others as Christ does; humans with beautiful differences all created in the image of God the Father.
After the events in Charlottesville, Patrice hosted a Coffee and Conversation event. She invited others as an opportunity to learn to love each other by getting to know each other...one conversation at a time. The meeting was attended by 3 of Patrice’s sisters, her brother-in-law and 1 white friend. Patrice was so thankful for the friend that came because it lent a different voice to the discussion. “Every time you allow yourself to hear a different perspective, it opens your heart and mind a little bit more,” Patrice said.
The bottom line for Patrice with racial reconciliation is trying to know and understand each other’s hearts. Most times when people begin a racial reconciliation conversation, even if they don’t necessarily say the “right” things, they’re trying to get there—to racial reconciliation or an understanding of one another. People willing to enter into these conversations need to understand that no one is intentionally trying to offend but to change themselves and their thinking.
Ultimately, Patrice says, “How can you bring people to Jesus if you see people as different from you? When we allow our differences to affect if we share Jesus with someone, it’s sin.”
Patrice refers to the “journey” of racial reconciliation. She offers these steps:
- Surround yourself with people different from you
- Understand how you process those differences
- Make intentional steps to lean, to understand, and then to love and embrace those differences.
Above all, Patrice says, “Allow yourself to be covered in grace. Grace allows you to not see the wrong and the faults in others”. This is great truth for interaction with ALL people!
*Quotes in the 1st paragraph are from “The Story of Billy” by Arlene Thompson. https://lilliethompson.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/the-story-of-billy/
We’ve talked about why it’s important to serve (see Serving Part 1 here), and hopefully by now you’ve decided that either you need to start serving, or you just need to serve more. Most of us are in one of these two boats.
There are a few people who serve a lot of their time, and that’s great, but we need to understand that they can’t carry this burden alone. And don’t get me wrong, most of the regular volunteers that we have at the Church of Severn Run are all very generous with their time, and they love serving! I bet if you asked any one of them how much they got out of it, they’d tell you it was a lot more than they put in.
Let’s take a little bit to look at just a couple serving areas in the church specifically where a few dedicated people are running most of the show and who could use some help.
One of the biggest areas we have, with the largest requirement of volunteers, is the kids’ ministry. We have rooms for babies all the way up through high school.
Let’s start with the little kids, because that’s our biggest group. Here’s some numbers to put our need for volunteers into perspective:
- For every 4 kids 2 years old and younger, we need one volunteer per service.
- For every 8 kids 3 years old or older, we need one volunteer per service.
Typically, we’re looking at having 2 adult workers per classroom for each service, equaling 12 volunteers per service, and 36 volunteers on a Sunday if everyone only worked one service. These kinds of numbers are what we’d need to be covered and not have anyone working overtime or more than they’d like to.
Preferably, we’d like to have around 40-50 volunteers a week so that in the case of cancellations, or extra kids, we’re covered. Generally, two adults per classroom is good, but sometimes we have more kids and need more help. Recently we talked with Kristin Wood, our Preschool Director, and we only had 28 volunteers on this particular Sunday. Granted, this is the summer time, and we’re constantly dealing with people being out for vacations and family things, but it’s pretty typical for us to see less-than-ideal volunteer numbers, even though Kristin noted that she was happy to have 28 this particular week.
We think that we can do better, don’t you?
Many of our kids’ volunteers work more than one Sunday service, sometimes even all three. While they love to do it, this can be tiring. If we had enough volunteers back there for each person to work one service once or twice a month, that would be the best-case scenario. Some volunteers would still work more than that, because that just what they like to do. But, we recognize that not everyone can do that, and having more volunteers would help make it so that everyone could work as much as they wanted to, and not be asked to, or feel like, they had to work more than they wanted to.
So, if your passion is young kids, or even if it’s just serving where God has called you to, please contact Kristin Wood for more information on how you can plug in and start helping with the little kiddos. It’s a real treat to be able to invest in these kids’ lives, and to give parents the ease of mind to go and pour Jesus into their lives on Sundays, so that they can pour into their kids for the next week.
If serving with the little kids isn’t your thing, there’s also the grade school, middle-school, and high school kids ministries.
The grade school kids are upstairs, and you can contact our family life pastor Steve Stolarek-Houston to work with those kids. We’ve got some really great workers up there with them, but they can always use more help. If you’re more interested in working with the older kids, contact the Student Pastor Chris Martin.
The middle school and high school kids also meet during the week, and they do lots of fun stuff, so this can be a really fun and rewarding way to give back. At these ages, kids are being influenced in lots of different ways, and the world is trying to confuse them from what they’ve learned as a kid. There’s a big opportunity here to literally change these kids’ lives and be Jesus to them.
Ok, so enough about the kids. Hopefully if you’re not a “kids person,” you’re still with me.
I’d like to take another minute to discuss a different area of the church that could use some help when it comes to volunteers. Of course, all areas and ministries are open to new faces, but this one in particular has caught my attention as being a little short-handed.
The area I’m talking about is the technical booth in the back of the service.
Everyone is familiar with the faces of the singers and musicians on stage who perform week after week, and whom we get to praise God with, but not many people pay much attention to the guys and gals behind the scenes. We have people who work the lights, the sounds, and the screens, among other things. While this generally only requires one person per job, we don’t have very many volunteers who work back there on a weekly basis. It’s typically the same 1 or 2 people who work week after week, usually all 3 services, for each need. Needless to say, this can be draining.
And let’s admit, the Worship Tribe and the tech people really do an amazing job helping us worship and connect with God every week. Many of the people who walk through our doors, especially if it’s only once, will only experience worship in the auditorium. We’ve had hundreds of new people visit our church during various holidays, and the tech people play an integral role in helping the church share Jesus with them. Even though the tech people in the back were probably not even noticed by these visitors, you can be sure that they showed Jesus to many who needed to see him. They were crucial in making worship relevant to people who desperately needed to see a version Jesus who wasn’t some all-powerful being sitting on a throne, casting down condemnation on them, but a Jesus who loved and lived and walked among them in a very real way. This is the kind of Jesus that the Worship Tribe shows people on a weekly basis, and they couldn’t do this without the support of their tech team in the back.
Whether you’re technically inclined or not, you can make a difference in people’s lives, just like the examples I provided above. It’s easy to learn, and the rewards are big, especially when you see the looks on people’s faces as a disco ball drops form the ceiling and the whole auditorium lights up like a thousand stars (yes, we actually did this once and it was awesome!). On the other hand, if you like to sing, or can play an instrument, the Worship Tribe is always open and welcoming of new talent. If you’re interested in either of these areas, please contact our Ministry Director, Gwen Hubbard, or our Communications Leader Bonni Mace.
So, what are you going to do now???
The ball is in your court. Do you hear God speaking to you?
Being realistic, I don’t expect hundreds of people to start volunteering for one of these areas of the church. I realize that these places may not be where you’re best-suited to serve, and that’s OK. But, hopefully in one way or another, you’ve heard God’s call in your life.
There are literally millions of ways that you can serve, and it doesn’t have to be here at the Church at Severn Run. But, it is our sincerest hope that you can find a place here where you can put your talents to use to help us share Jesus with the Baltimore area, and to advance his kingdom in your life and the lives of those around you. Follow this link to find out about more serving opportunities at Severn Run.
But beyond that, no matter where he’s calling you to serve, we hope and pray that you will realize all that God has planned for you in your life, and that you will do amazing things for his kingdom.
We pray that the world will be able to see something different in you, not just because of your talent or your service, but because you do it selflessly and with a smile on your face, showing Jesus to a world in need…
And always remember to Love Well, Live Jesus, and Believe Big!
Why is it so difficult to have real conversation about our personal relationship with Jesus, especially with non-believers?
When given the opportunity, we are quick to say that God has incredible power to transform lives, but we belittle the example of transformed life that we know the most about…our own! What wonderful changes we could make if we were better able to allow others, including non-believers, to see our daily walk with Jesus. We would be able to change lives by introducing them to a faith that is real and alive. One Severn Runner, Hillary, was willing to share her story about how she did just that.
“I was working as a therapist in a prison. I was ready to make a career move and had applied and accepted a conditional offer for a new position, but was waiting in a holding pattern for almost two years. It was easy to write it off as the pace of the federal governments hiring system, but in hindsight, I think God was keeping me there for a reason. Over that time other coworkers left only me and my coworker, Emily, on our team. Working in prison you find any reason to get out during the day and we regularly began getting afternoon coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. I was under the assumption that Emily was a Christian, not the “I believe in God” type, but the active Christ following type. I am not really sure why I thought this, but I did. Our conversations over coffee were about relationships, family, and daily life. Our conversations got deeper and turned to issues of faith. I thought I was having deep conversations with a person who shared my beliefs and was coming from the same place of faith. I openly shared my thoughts, questions, and experiences. We talked about our churches and I was surprised how little she seemed to know about hers, but didn't think much of it. After several months, Emily shared with me that she had gotten baptized. I was so happy for her, but it was also the first time I recognized that she hadn't been in the same place of faith as me during our conversations. She told me how our conversations had been a part of her journey. Shortly after, I got a start date for my new job and left Patuxent [Institution]. It is hard to think that God didn't keep me there to have that experience with her – to share my faith freely and without inhibition because I didn't know I was sharing with someone might reject it.”
Wow! What a great misunderstanding that turned out to be. But there were a lot of ways that God was moving in Hillary's life to orchestrate the seemingly coincidental relationship she developed with Emily.
“I think God was working through me to share faith with her and draw her into the accepting community of faith. She got into a dating relationship that quickly became an engagement during that time and my marriage, Wes' and my involvement in YMP (Connect Group at Severn Run), and the other Christ centered couples we knew were able to be examples to her of what a Christ centered relationship can look like. Because she was my friend, I shared with her some messy and vulnerable times Wes and I walked through – and I think that realness was impactful for her. God was working through her and the situation to teach me to be bold in sharing my faith – I never would have spoken so openly if I had known there was a risk that she wouldn't be receptive.
Another thing I think is important is that in sharing with her, I talked about struggles, questions I had, barriers between sharing faith with my family, etc. A lot of times I feel like when sharing my faith I need to have the perfect thing to say or have it all wrapped up in a pretty package with a bow, but real faith is evolving and is sometimes difficult which is just as important to share.”
It’s easy to relate to Hillary's feelings on why we hold back when sharing our faith. We are worried about how we will be received, but the person on the other end really just needs to hear Jesus speak through our life's story. When we think we are “improving” our story by focusing on getting everything just right, we are probably just getting in the way.
“My main takeaway from the experience is how differently would I talk about my faith if I was never worried about rejection. I hope that others would hear that too – how differently, how much more frequently, how much more vulnerable would we be talking about our faith if we acted like everyone we talked to was a believer?” - Hillary Battle
Let us know: How does this encourage you to be more bold about sharing your faith in everyday situations?
To live as followers of Jesus, we must not ignore the example Jesus set.
Jesus didn’t talk about religion in buildings. He didn’t spend his time in Torah studies discussing the merits of this teacher or that. Those things have their place…but more often than not during his years of ministry, Jesus was right in the middle of crowds of people.
He was in the midst of the broken, but he wasn't telling them what they needed to do to get right with God. Instead, Jesus was lovingly addressing their needs first. Feeding the hungry. Healing the sick. Helping the poor. Holding the children. Loving the unlovable.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
Acts 20:35 ESV
Although our world looks much different than Judea of old, we are the hands and feet of Jesus. Right here. Right now.
We are the ones who need to get close to the hurting. To help the poor. To hold the children. To love the unlovable. We are the ones Jesus is calling to shine his light in this broken and dark world.
When we put aside our comfort and reach out to show the love of Jesus to the uncomfortable, we are truly thinking Kingdom and living Jesus. There is no other way to do it. There is no way around it.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
First John 3:17
Does your heart break for the oppressed?
Do you break down when you see the homeless on the street?
This is the Spirit telling you where God wants you to get to work.
Bear one another's burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 ESV
Can you easily share some of your food or money or time with the poor?
Do you have a soft spot for children, the elderly, or the terminally ill?
This is where God wants you to serve.
Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. Proverbs 28:27
Some believers have a Spiritual gift to do these things, so it comes easily and naturally—it is a passion. But passion or not, we all have the responsibility to do something to make things better for the broken and thereby point to the love of Jesus.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16
The good news is, you don’t have to figure out how to get close to the broken on your own. The Church at Severn Run has many ministries and program partners in the Baltimore area where you can fulfill the calling Jesus has put in front of you.
Here are some ways you can get involved—Right Here! Right Now!
With Ministries Like:
The Transformation Center
Bringing about transformed lives and transformed communities leading to a transformed city. It is the hub for many of our ministry Impact Project including Lilies Place (clothing and food distribution), Celebrate Recovery, and Beautiful Feet (homelessness ministry). There will be many upcoming opportunities as well such as the building construction projects, the school they are starting called Hope Academy, and the GED/Jobs Programs.
Based in Curtis Bay, The Well is a community of women mentoring and learning identity, value and giftedness. Lives are transformed through long-term relationships and practical programs that offer community, give opportunity and promote responsibility to lead women to the purpose God has for them. They need volunteers to help the women of the ministry.
Morningside House of Friendship
The first Thursday of each month you’ll find a room full of youth mingling, talking and singing with the elderly guests of Morningside as they participate in Collide’s monthly missions program. Morningside House of Friendship is an assisting living facility in Hanover MD. that partners with Severn’s youth ministry, Collide.
The International Justice Mission
A global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world. Their global team includes more than 750 lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists and other professionals who work at 17 field offices, one of which is close to our area.
Partnering with Local Organizations Such As:
Local Police Departments (like this Connect Group did)
Local Fire Departments
Or with Churches Including:
Grace Redeemer Church
Building lives is a work of art. It is the work of the Master Artist - Jesus Christ. Come see what God has been doing through Grace Redeemer Community Church and get involved in their great missions projects.
Elevate Church is a diverse community of people. Located in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis, we desire to be a church that makes a difference in the lives of the community. Elevate Church exists to elevate the name of Jesus, equip believers for service, and to engage the community with service projects and the message of the transforming power of Jesus Christ. They are always looking for volunteers to help with missions projects.
The Broken Wall Project
A community of faith in West Baltimore seeking to integrate the values of authenticity, community, advocacy, and transformation as they follow Jesus believing that diversity ethnically, educationally, financially, and relationally makes everyone better. They hold services on Saturday evenings and need volunteers to help with many different projects.
Captivate Christian Church
Founded in Baltimore, Captivate Church is focused on bringing life by connecting people to God through Jesus. They provide a very real place of healing, grace and forgiveness. They need volunteers to help with projects in the Baltimore area.
Of course there are also many ways to serve at Severn Run as a volunteer in any of our ministries listed at severnrun.com/serve or specifically helping with some ministries reaching the broken and based on our campus like:
The Christian Assistance Program
A coalition of Severn-Odenton churches that provides food and clothing to needy families in the community. Donations are welcome every Sunday (you can find the monthly need focus in the church bulletin). Volunteers are always needed.
The Kairos Prison Ministry shares the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus to impact the hearts and lives of incarcerated men, women, and youth, as well as their families, to help them become loving and productive citizens of their communities. Volunteer opportunities include prayer partners, food support, and for those speaking to inmates in the prisons.
Companions of Hope
A support ministry for cancer patients and their caregivers. Volunteers are needed for helping with welcome baskets, card making and writing, providing transportation to appointments, making meals or phone calls, and prayer.
Blanket the City
Spend a Saturday morning giving blankets, prayer and encouragement to the homeless in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. This opportunity only happens once per year, but affects lives for much longer.
Volunteer to help Severn Run host homeless men and women for a week at the church during the colder months of winter. This event takes many hands to make it work right. Volunteer to bring and serve food, or help during the day or nights wherever you are needed to help make our guests feel welcomed and loved.
Operation Christmas Child
In partnership with Samaritan’s Purse, Severn Run is a collection station for OCC Christmas boxes collected each fall. Fill a box, or volunteer to help collect, manage, pray for and deliver the boxes each Christmas season.
And more exciting opportunities to come like Samaritan Women and Hope House.
It all makes a difference. It all shows the love of Jesus to a broken world.
Where will you get involved? And when?
Here’s what to do next:
- Pray to see where God is telling you to serve
- Choose a place to volunteer
- Contact the church office or Vicki DeLair ( ) to get involved!
Here’s what not to do:
Don’t ignore this opportunity to share the love of Jesus as you were commanded.
People are apprehensive about serving at church. I know this because I’m one of them. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy as much of their weekend as they can in relaxation, right? Volunteering to spend all day Sunday at church can seem really daunting. The thing is, if we call ourselves Christians, if we truly believe that Jesus was Lord, then we are called to serve.
The one thing that we endeavor to is following the example of Jesus by doing what he did throughout his life. If we’re honest with ourselves, then we already know the answer to this endeavor is service. There are other things that we can do, yes, but if you look at the life of Jesus, he was almost always acting in service to someone. Whether it was washing people’s feet, feeding them, or healing the sick, Jesus was constantly looking for ways to put the needs of others above his own. Therefore, what is it that we are called to do? We are called to serve. But, don’t take my word for it…
Jesus called them all together and said, “You know that the rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it shall be among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of the others— like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.” -Matthew 20:25-28(GNT)
So, what does it really mean to serve at church?
Service should be more than just a volunteer “job” that we do once in a month of Sundays. If you look at the ‘religious’ view of what serving is, then the definition you get is something along the lines of earning our way to heaven. Service is good, yes, but in and of itself it does not grant access to eternal life with Jesus. So, why then are we called to serve? What is the point? Let’s take a look at Paul’s letter to some of the New Testament churches to see why we are supposed to serve.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. -Ephesians 4:11-16
Paul knew that we are stronger when we are unified and living in service to both each other and to non-believers. And again, we see here that we are called to be like Christ; that we are to strive to emulate everything that he represents. The ultimate point is for us to be more like Christ so we can resist temptations and be the example of true love to a world that desperately needs it.
Where Do I Serve?
It would be naive to think that we should all jump blindly into service, just for the fact of serving. Yes, we are called to serve, but we can be smart about it. The Bible speaks of spiritual gifts, and it teaches that we all have different ones. Some people may be more suited to watch and teach children, while others may be musically inclined and thrive being on stage in front of everyone. Others yet are more content to run the lights and sounds and remain in the background. There is no “right” or “wrong” place to serve, there are just places that are better suited to our gifts.
Don’t feel like you have to do something you hate, just to honor God and the people around you. You don’t have to know what your spiritual gift is, (but in case you’re wondering, you can head on over here and take the test to see what it might be). This is not a guarantee to be a perfect fit, but that’s the great thing about serving at church – you can be free to test the waters and find out what suits you most!
Now, you might be thinking that you already know what your gift is, and perhaps that gift is not something that you can do at church right now. In part, this might be true, but give it some thought. Is there really just not a need for your gift at church at the moment? This is unlikely, and there is generally always a way to use your gift. After all, God gave it to you for a reason.
There may be a case where at this moment in time, the church doesn’t have an opportunity for you. And that’s perfectly OK. There are millions of places out there in the world where you can use your gift. It doesn’t have to be at church. But chances are, if you can use it “out there”, then you can use it here too.
If the specific ministry or outlet doesn’t exist yet in the church, then talk to someone on staff about getting that started. It’s possible that are there are a handful of others in the church who have a complementary gift that could mesh well with yours and get some amazing things going right here in our community.
The church also already has a lot of teams that you can serve on. (Keep an eye on the blog as there will be a continuation of this post describing several particular areas within our church that are in need of some extra volunteers.)
Remember, we need to serve because it is an outpouring of our faith. It’s a tangible way we can share the love of Jesus with others.