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Serving Others and Turning 150

6 years ago written by

I live a mile away from a church that has a chain-link fence around its parking lot and a gate that looks like a section of the fence.

I never drive by this church on Sunday morning because my home congregation is in the opposite direction, but I drive by the church frequently during the rest of the week, and the parking lot always appears to be blocked by the fence and the closed gate. The church has not shut down permanently based on its sign or website, but I’ve never noticed any cars or people in the lot despite its location near the intersection of two busy roads.

I sometimes wonder why this church remains inaccessible except on Sunday morning. The church is not in an area known for high crime. Maybe the church was sued previously by a neighborhood teen who fell off a skateboard in its parking lot.

The church building isn’t large, so the congregation might be too small to afford a secretary. Perhaps the pastor is bivocational and doesn’t have time for office hours. There may be a perfectly good reason for the blocked access, but I still find myself troubled whenever I see the fence and gate.

The church is within walking distance of at least two subdivisions, and I wonder if any of the nearby residents would miss the church if the gate remained closed on Sunday mornings too. Perhaps I’m jumping to incorrect conclusions. Maybe the gate is closed to keep church members focused on serving their communities rather than gathering at the church building.

How can we — as individuals and as the church/the body of Christ (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Colossians 1:18) — serve our communities in meaningful ways? If we disappeared, would our neighbors and communities notice?

Keep reading this issue of Light + Life, and learn what it means to be a servant leader through the powerful insight of Bishop Matthew Thomas, and read about the servant leadership of Chaplain Charles “Chaz” Maldonado who helped in Puerto Rico during and following Hurricane Maria. You’ll also get advice and practical examples from two experts — Pastors Glenn Teal and Shane Bengry — about how a church can and should serve its community. Read how the family of Pastor Michael McMullen turned their personal property into a halfway house for men finding freedom in Christ.

It’s been 150 years since the Rev. Levi Wood published the first numbered issue of The Free Methodist (now known as Light + Life) on Jan. 9, 1868. (This publication is even older if you count sample copies in 1867.) A century and a half later, my colleagues and I work to ensure Wood’s continued legacy by producing a print publication that points readers to eternal light and life (John 1:4) while helping you and our other readers be a light that brings life to others (Matthew 5:14–16, Ephesians 5:8–13). While this publication primarily reached Free Methodists in the past, our online articles at and have found an expanded audience of readers around the world who have no prior connection to the Free Methodist Church.

If this publication or its website disappeared, would you miss Light + Life? How can the Light + Life team serve you better? Email and let us know.

Jeff Finley serves as the executive editor of Light + Life, which he joined in 2011 after previously working as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media.

Article Categories:
[Openers] · L + L January 2018 · Magazine

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