Monday, February 8, 2016

Connections Matter!

      Last night, I had a conversation with two of my friends discussing Super Bowl Parties.  None of us really cared too much about the football game, but loved the aspect of fellowship.  Many corps parties we have been a part of had options for our crafty people so that they weren't bored during the game.  And of course, who doesn't love football food? Whether or not we watched the game, we had a great time together. The conversation got my wheels turning though, and it made me think about how we connect with others.
     Community Cares (The Salvation Army's Outreach ministry to Nursing Homes/Prisons etc.)  is really about connections.  Connections to the least of these, the forgotten, the sick, and the lost.  It is about connecting with our neighbors by providing a service, or just offering a listening ear.   I would think that having a Super Bowl party for your neighbors could absolutely count as Community Care if you were intentional about the fellowship aspect.
      But why wait for a special occasion like the Super Bowl, or a Holiday, like Christmas to make connections?   I realize that monthly visitation by the corps CCM (Community Care Ministry) group is encouraged, and in some places that works marvelously...but that isn't what I am really talking about here.  I think there comes a point, as we are discipling others, that it has to be more than us just facilitating a visit to a facility for our congregation or CCM group. Our corps people must be able to make connections themselves.  They don't necessarily have to invite people to their homes. Although what better way to live in community?  They could make a connection at the grocery store, at work, etc. They can go and visit a nursing home...on their own...because it is woven into their life as a child of God.
    While our intentional/ facility visit program is still viable, shouldn't the heart of Community Cares be woven throughout all we do in discipling our congregations with the many programs we already offer?  For those that struggle with time or with having able bodied or willing people, this is vital!  You may not have a lot of people that want to do CCM, but you can utilize your present groups either by scheduling or inspiring them to visit on their own.  (I would rather they be inspired!!!!)
    Think of Community Cares, as Community Connections. Your corps could be keeping track of the "connections" they have made.  Following through on a few connections, could turn into discipling others.  I wonder if our impact would be greater, even if there were fewer "connections"?   You could even do a social media campaign, like #connectionsmatter or #communitycare to motivate your corps people to make connections.
    As you plan out your Community Cares this year, consider the resources you already have.  Your character building groups, women's and men's ministries, and Sunday Congregation.  Remind them, that they are the body of Christ and that community starts with them.  They don't have to wait for you as the corps officer to drive them to a Nursing Home.  They can start it at a Sunday Night dinner in their home, or in a conversation with the cart attendant at the grocery store.  Connections matter.  Inspire them to start making them today!