From Connally Gilliam, a member of Restoration’s local outreach team:
It happened. The Outreach Cookout. And it was good, honestly good. Good food; good moon bounce and face paint; good words from good people about good organizations; good attendance (150-175); good conversations; good water balloons; and good (enough) weather. It made me think of one of those “Life is good” t-shirts. Exhale and say “ahh….”
Driving away an hour and a half after the cookout had technically ended, I realized, “This is amazing, really. An 18-month old church pitching in and gathering to hear about and explore what getting beyond our own walls and limits might mean. That is a very good beginning.”
First, then, a big thank you to all the people who helped out, and particularly: Kristin and her band of merry chefs and side/dessert providers; Dietrich for his organizational skills; Becky for being the church liaison; Louise and Caitlin for making it seriously fun for kids; and David for getting behind it so whole-heartedly.
Secondly, let’s not quit here. In a previous blog I mentioned that discovering what meaningful outreach looks like is a challenge that every generation must take on. And typically, the discovery process is pretty messy, and the outcomes are normally corrected by the generation that follows! In other words, the likelihood of us “getting this outreach thing right” are slim to none. But, what is so encouraging to me, and I hope to you, is this: not that we will be perfect, but that Jesus honors and is committed to working with the heart and intentions of his followers, even when imperfect and messy.
Last Saturday, during the cookout, I was able to observe and catch glimpses of the heart and intention of so many of Jesus’ followers. Though no doubt (if I’m any indication) there is a lot of imperfection and mess mixed in, there is also a lot of goodness in the people from Restoration. Even the folks who were not from the congregation told me that same thing. So based on Scripture—and supported by what I’ve experienced—I know that as we keep showing up and keep taking risks with our good and messy selves, God will keep giving us the privilege of learning to be the hands, feet, and mouthpiece of Jesus in and for the world around us, embracing a shared care with and for our community.
So glad to have been at the cookout with so many of you. Hope the rest of you can join us next year. And in the meantime, let’s keep following Jesus forward…