At VOUS, we are passionate about serving our city. We believe that God has called us, not just to serve within the four walls of a building, but out in the streets, schools, and homes of our local community. Since we launched our church, we have maintained a monthly rhythm of hosting community service projects through our I Love My City events. At I Love My City, hundreds of servant leaders gather to rally, worship, and pray, before breaking out into different projects across Miami. It’s one of our favorite things we get to do each month.
We are not the only organization with a passion for serving our community. We know that our city is full of local organizations who have been providing for, serving, and loving the people of Miami for many years before us. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, our strategy has been to establish strategic partnerships with these incredible organizations. Each month, we host a large-scale outreach where we come around a specific initiative that focuses our efforts. Once we have selected an initiative, we set a goal for the number of organizations we would like to partner with that month. This helps to ensure that we continue to push to form new relationships and expand the scope of our service.
Here are three steps you can take as you establish partnerships with organizations in your local community.
Before you reach out, research. Once you have set a clear vision for how you want to serve your community, look for people to partner with. Take time to learn about the history, values, and strategy of their organization. Odds are, these things will be easy to find on their website. This step will help your team to determine whether or not the partnership will be a good fit for both parties. Research can help you get ahead of a potential disconnect in the future. Before you schedule a meeting or make a phone call, you can get a good idea of what a partnership may look like simply by learning a little bit about the organization.
Once you have found an organization you feel an affinity for, reach out to make a connection with someone there. This initial conversation will provide further clarity on the potential connection points between your organization and theirs. Share with them the heart of your church—the values, mission, and vision that drive what you do. And ask them about how and why they do what they do. Our experience has been that our city is full of so many people who are passionate about serving people. Their stories have inspired us to love and serve our community in a deeper way.
As we partner with organizations, our goal is not only to serve our city, it is to serve the organizations we are serving alongside. They are, after all, a critical part of the health and life of our community. Whether we realize it or not, their investment in Miami is making a difference in our daily lives. As we get to know our strategic partners, we learn what their needs are and look for ways to help them accomplish their goals. Rather than just creating projects we feel are important, we collaborate with our partners and lean into their initiatives. Our servant leaders provide the manpower they need to move forward faster.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
As followers of Jesus, we have been called to serve. In Jesus, we have the perfect example of service. Jesus didn’t come to be served. He consistently, passionately, and generously served everyone around him. He gave his very life in exchange for our salvation and healing. Because of Jesus, we don’t have to give our lives. But we can live our lives in service to him and others. That is our great commission and our great privilege. We no longer live for our preference, we live for his purpose. And we are surrounded by opportunities to meet the real tangible needs of our community. Whoever you are, wherever you are, ask God to open your eyes to the needs around you and watch as he empowers you to meet them in a way that only you can.
Here is a breakdown of our monthly spotlight initiatives for 2021:
JANUARY - Homeless Outreach
FEBRUARY - Social Justice
MARCH - No ILMC due to Easter
APRIL - Easter Egg Pass
MAY - Foster Care
JUNE - No ILMC due to VOUS Conference (postponed this year)
JULY - Inner-City Communities
AUGUST - Back to School Bash
SEPTEMBER - Operation Christmas Child
OCTOBER - Local Families
NOVEMBER - Thanksgiving Bash
DECEMBER - Christmas Toy Drive