Many Reformed churches have meal ministries. You know the sort of thing. A family in the church has a newborn baby. Some ladies (typically the ladies) organize some meals to be brought over for a week or two. Or someone comes home from the hospital after major surgery and then they get to enjoy two weeks of lasagna and casseroles. In the last church I served, the deacons and their wives organized all of this using a helpful website called Meal Train. You can find it here — it’s absolutely brilliant.
These “meal ministries” are often directed inwards. They exist only for the membership of the church. But do they have to? Couldn’t we take something that we’re already doing and then use it to serve the community around us as well? I wish I could say that I thought of that question. Credit goes to Kevin Harney. In his book Organic Outreach for Churches, he asks: “What if we continued taking meals to church members, but we also made this service available to people in our community who don’t know Jesus?” He calls this vectoring. You vector an existing program or ministry in the church meant to serve the members. You just redirect some of the time, energy, and resources a couple of degrees outward.
Harney relates how this concept was implemented at Corinth Reformed Church:
The first family in our community to receive meals as a result of our vectoring this ministry outward were friends of my family. They didn’t attend any church. We had met when our boys were in the community soccer program. The wife was having surgery soon and her recovery would be very slow. My wife called her before the surgery and asked if it would be okay to line up five or six families from our church to take them meals on the day after she got home from the hospital. At first, she didn’t know how to respond. Finally, she cautiously said, “I think that would be okay.”
When she came home after surgery, people from the church extended love and care to her and her family by taking meals for a week. They were not pushy or aggressive. They just used their hands to prepare meals and then delivered them with the love of Jesus. The entire family was touched and blessed by the kindness of the church. Once she was up and around, she called the church and got the address of every person who had brought her a meal. Then she went to each home and delivered a little potted plant as a thank-you.
Several things happened through this whole process. Bridges were built. Friendships were forged. Service was offered. The love of Jesus was incarnated. And our church learned that it’s not hard to take something we are already doing for ourselves and vector it a couple of degrees to also serve our community. (pages 144-145)
What a great idea! It’s a simple way to help direct the church outwards to those around us.