Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Story of Serving the Homeless in Rochester

In February of 2014, I had the opportunity to serve at Dimitri House with members of my community group. I had only been attending Northridge for about a month at the time, but when this opportunity was presented, I was excited to jump in and serve in a capacity I had yet to experience: sharing Christ's love with the homeless in Rochester.

Dimitri House is a non-profit organization that serves the needy in Rochester by providing food, shelter and services toward the goal of self-sufficiency. One of the leaders of my community group attended RIT, and one of the campus ministries there partners with Dimitri House, and that is how we got connected. One of the programs Dimitri House offers is a men's winter shelter that is open 7 nights a week from November through April, with dinner served in the evenings and a hearty breakfast in the mornings. My group cooked dinner for the men, including dessert, then one of the leaders and I stayed overnight to serve breakfast in the morning.

The entire experience was positive, from start to finish. It is difficult to understand the struggles of the homeless men who have to utilize emergency housing, and this serving opportunity helped me to have more empathy for the homeless population in Rochester as a whole. Not only did I get to spend quality time with my community group during the cooking, serving and cleaning process, but we got to sit down and share a meal with the men and learn about them as people; people who are loved by God, just like you and I. It gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to love the least of these.

Here are some photos from that night. If you are at all interested in serving the homeless in Rochester, fill out the interest form and the Northridge Serves team can get you connected to one of our partner organizations!

food, shelter, and services that help them on their journey toward self-sufficiency. food, shelter, and services that help them on their journey toward, shelter, and services that help them on their journey toward self-sufficiency.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Love One Another in the Church

One of the defining characteristics of a Christian is their love. There are many commands to love others. These include a call to love our neighbor (see Matthew 22:37-39 and the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10) and to love those who persecute us (see Matthew 5:44-45).

But the reality is that many (if not most) of the declarations to love others found in the New Testament seem to refer most specifically to the love between believers.

In John 13 Jesus demonstrates servant-leadership by washing the dirty feet of his closest followers. He goes on to command them to demonstrate love to each other, both to emulate Christ but to also demonstrate their faith to the world around them.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
~John 13:34-35

In Paul's letter to the Romans, Paul makes a similar plea. He begins chapter 12 by challenging believers to transform the way they live and to sacrifice themselves for the Gospel. He moves on to challenge the believers to participate with the local church and to use their gifts for the sake of that church. It is in this context that he tells them to be devoted to love one another and to share with other followers of Jesus who are in need.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
~Romans 12:9-13

No doubt we are commanded to love everyone and to give to the needy who live in our communities and around the world. But we also have very specific commands to love other believers and to demonstrate the love of Christ by caring for the needy in our own church.

So what does this look like? Here are some simple ideas:

  • Serve in the local church. If you don't serve regularly on Sunday mornings, consider jumping in to be a part of what God is doing through Northridge. Your service helps us create an environment for believers to be encouraged and challenged. 
  • Serve someone in your community group. Identify a person or a couple in your group who might need some additional love and encouragement. If someone is having a busy season at work, just had a baby, or is going through a tough situations, consider stepping in to demonstrate love -- bring them a meal, send them an anonymous gift, rally your group together to have a "cleaning day" and clean their home or do some yardwork, or offer to babysit their kids so they can have a date night or get some projects done.
Let's be the church as Jesus commanded it to be, where the outside world knows we follow Him because of the way we love one another!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Which List Do You Choose?

Every one of us is extremely adept at rationalizing or making excuses for not doing something that we know in our hearts we should do.  Serving within or outside of church is no exception.  Here’s a quick list of eight excuses for not serving:

1.   I don’t have time.
2.   I don’t have any special skills to contribute.
3.   I am not really needed.
4.   I will volunteer when I have some extra time and when life eases up.
5.   I won’t know anybody, and I’m just not a people person.
6.   I may be asked to do something I’ve never tried before.
7.   I am one person; I can’t make a difference
8.   I don’t know what cause to get involved with; there are so many causes and organizations.

They all begin with “I”, and there are many more where those come from.

Rick Warren said: “To all excuses God will respond, “Sorry, wrong answer. I created, saved, and called you and commanded you to live a life of service. What part did you not understand?”

Know that God has equipped all of us to serve others. And the only way to find out how you are best equipped is to take that first step, and say “Yes.”  Moses sad Yes.  David said Yes.  Paul said Yes.  All reluctantly.

Saying Yes to serving others will lead to blessings. Here’s a quick list of eight blessings that await you (and you’ll find in reality it’s a much longer list):

1.   Serving allows us to discover and develop our spiritual gifts.
2.   Serving allows us to experience miracles.
3.   Serving allows us to experience the joy and peace that comes from obedience.
4.   Serving helps us to be more like Jesus.
5.   Serving surrounds us with other Christians who can help us follow Jesus.
6.   Serving increases our faith.
7.   Serving allows us to experience God’s presence in new ways.
8.   Serving is good for your soul.

You can say yes with a simple email to, and we will help you take that step.