Why Serve?

My family has a long history and experience in the food industry in my native city Maracaibo, and servanthood is truly part of our DNA. My grandparents, uncles and parents all have owned and run their small and large scale Chinese restaurants. And so growing up, the restaurant was my only playground which I quite enjoyed and learned from.  

My parents were always intentional in teaching me the value of work and serving others by putting me to work in the family business. So, my first waiting-table experience was at the age of 12. Of course, they did not just throw me in the deep end, nor made the customers feel uncomfortable to be served by a tween! They assigned me tables of regular customers who frequented during slow time and whom we had a rapport with. They would teach me what to bring to the table, and how to take their order with great professionalism, with an extra dose of supervision. Once they felt I got it, they allowed me to wait on 1 or 2 tables, and even receive tips! However, it was the look on people’s faces when they received good service that made me love serving even more. On the other hand, I’d say it was a win for my parents for me to serve tables, as it allowed them to lead the kitchen and front of house for dinner rush hour – something that only they could do – preparing to serve great meals to customers! 

In reflecting back on my own experience, there are similarities to serving in the restaurant and serving in the local church!

If the purpose of having a restaurant is to serve food (because a restaurant without food is not a restaurant), similarly, the focus of the church, God’s people gathered together, is to present and teach the Word of God which is the spiritual food needed to nourish many people, leading them to know Jesus. 

Whether you are a foodie, or love to frequent restaurants, you would pick the restaurant first based on their excellence of their meals – quality of ingredients, flavors, and presentation-, and then based on their hospitality – beautiful ambiance and thoughtful service. Such restaurants are only possible when there is a supporting serving team working together with the master chef, so they can focus on what he/she does best, preparing extraordinary food..

In the same manner, our local church needs a serving team that focuses on practical needs allowing the pastors to do what they are called to do –  focus on praying and preparing the best spiritual meal possible and presenting the Word of God, for those far away from God, as well as growing believers. As we look at the early church in Acts 6:1-7, we see how the establishment of leadership and a SERVE team allowed the apostles to bring people to Christ growing the church:

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists  arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 6:1-3, 7 (ESV)

The early church was growing to the seams and the apostles found themselves in a crucial situation. Being just twelve of them appointed as apostles of Jesus, they were unable to minister the Word, something they were chosen to do, while meeting practical needs of the widows.  Based on what they learned from Jesus, they solved this issue by encouraging others to serve and lead in a supporting role. The outcome was extraordinary and is now the biblical recipe we follow in our local church so we can fulfill the Great Commission! 

1. Calling people to SERVE and be part of a team!

The apostles called for a meeting of believers and presented the need for “serving tables” or “wait on tables” so they “teach the Word of God.” When examining the Greek verbs in Acts 6:2 “wait tables”, and in Acts 6:4, “ministry of the word”, we see the same root “diaconos/diakonia”, meaning to serve or service! Thus, both the work of serving people meeting practical needs and the apostolic work of prayer and preaching are seen as service of equal importance. God needs both in order to accomplish His purpose. 

“Waiting on tables” or hospitality was not lesser or lower in the community of believers.  In fact, those who serve in a supporting team become great miracle facilitators when they see a need and meet it. 

Here Coastal Church, and we invite people to join the SERVE team and not to a volunteer team. A volunteer is someone that occasionally offers their free time to help. On the contrary a person from the SERVE team is the one who is committed to serve God, paving a path for the Holy Spirit to do a miracle in other people’s lives. On any weekend service, a SERVE team member at the door may be greeting at the door, but we know that this goes beyond the task of a welcome, specially when the Holy Spirit uses their smile to minister to someone in need – it could have ministered to that depressed mom coming through the door, showing her that she is loved, making her heart ready to receive a touch from God through the Word. Someone in the SERVE team then is a miracle facilitator!

Going back to the parallel to a restaurant – A waiter in a restaurant plays a key role in delivering the extraordinary meal to the table. In the same manner, when someone in the SERVE team shows hospitality, he or she is as much involved in the delivery of God’s Word.

2. Calling people to SERVANT LEADERSHIP!

The apostles did what they had seen Jesus do and taught. Jesus taught that the greatest amongst us is the one who serves. In Luke 22:24-27, He said “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as One who serves.”  Jesus viewed leadership through the lens of servanthood. 

In Acts 6:3, the apostles sought amongst the believers those who were willing to serve with a good reputation, full of the spirit and wisdom to ensure that the widows were cared for every day of the week. Probably one leader per day! It is beautiful to see the plurality of leadership in the church rather than just one person leading everything.   The qualifications for Biblical leadership is introduced in this passage not based on skills, experience but rather internal character. The apostles saw something in the seven – their motivation and proven and tested faithfulness, and most importantly their spiritual and practical mindedness. 

Here at Coastal Church we take on the same blueprint and we tap on the shoulders of those who embody servant leadership to lead a team! 

In similar fashion the most successful restaurants would seek after servant leaders and or train them up from within. “Chick-fil-A”, one of the most known fast food chains in America, has found success through servant leadership where they put employees first and invest in them. This culture of servanthood is evidenced in the way they serve and treat customers. 

It was through the restaurant then, and now in the church,  where I discovered the joy of being part of a team to serve others and seeing them feel cared for through hospitality.  In the same way that my parents stirred the gifts in me to serve in the restaurant, God stirred spiritual gifts in me to serve people. God wants the same for you! Church is the best place where you can discover what gifts and talents he gave you so you can serve Him and others, becoming a facilitator for the Holy Spirit to bring a miracle in people’s lives. If you want to make a difference, and grow as a believer, we invite you to join the SERVE team moving the church forward, fulfilling the great commission! For more information contact [email protected]