A Whale of A Rescue
A few weeks ago, during our time at Georgia Pastors School, Dionne and I took time to visit St. Simons Pier.
It had been a while since we had a chance to visit the pier together. Surprisingly, on this particular evening, finding a parking space was unusually difficult. As we walked a couple of blocks to the dock, we noticed flocks of people, more people than usual milling around. Oddly, the crowds stood around like a human barrier reef between dividing the sidewalk from the rocks of the shore.
We couldn't figure out the commotion. And then we saw a strange sight: people were in the water. It wasn't until we looked closer that we realized that the people were in the water with a whale! Of course, now my curiosity was piqued, and I got nosy, trying to get to the bottom of things.
When I asked a passerby, he told me the story. Just a few minutes before we arrived, a pilot whale pod leader beached near the pier with 30 other whales following her. The people in the water were on a rescue mission, trying to push her back into the sea and to stop the followers from sharing the same fate.
Spanning the scene, I couldn't help but notice the contrast: a small handful of people in the water and several hundred others gathered along the shore with phone cameras. Of course, as human nature would cause, several other people heard the news on Facebook and showed up to see what was going on. The ordinary people in the water were heroes of sorts and performed the extraordinary task of saving the flock. Unfortunately, the heroes couldn't save the pod leader as her injuries were too severe.
Riding back to the hotel room at Epworth, I couldn't get the image of the handful of people in the water trying to save a whale. A small group was part of the action while others supported their efforts through cheers and prayers. And a small minority was showing up to see what's happening.
Replaying this experience got me to thinking: What would it mean for people in the church to act as the small group of beachgoers in the water trying to save the whale? To put it another way, what would it mean for the church to help get people unstuck, so they don’t become stranded like a beached whale?
Moreover, what would happen if the church got into the waters of life, to help save drowning and beached people? What would it look like for the church to help people who have stranded themselves from dehydration because their souls have dried up? What would it look like for the church to help people imagine new ways of living?
Of course, any of these metaphors can carry a church across the threshold in the depths of human lives. You are invited to consider how your church can help people become unstuck?
An excellent place to start with a rescue mission such as this is through community engagement. Here are five questions that your church members can ask shop owners and community members in your local context,
- How long have you lived in this community?
- What do you think is the greatest need in this community?
- What are your hopes and dreams for your family?
- What advice can you give a church on how to provide hope to help families deal with today's pressures?
- How can we pray for you?
After compiling the answers to these questions, then work the next four questions as a congregation:
- What is the church's passion for the needs discovered from the community (that the congregation brings)?
- What is the skill-set of the congregation (the ability of the congregation to deliver desired need)?
- What does the community need (real opportunities in the community)?
- What does bringing hope to the community look like (The impact on community and church)?
Is your church willing to jump into the lives of others to help them get unstuck? I’m more than willing to walk alongside you in the process.
On the Journey,