Last weekend, my church hosted a brand new event which we called the “Backpack Bash.”

It was an event centered around giving brand new backpacks filled with school supplies to our students who will need them for the upcoming school year.

The event was similar to that of a “readifest” which many schools host right before the start of a new year. Not only did we give out backpacks but we also provided several other services along with food and games for the children.

In the parking lot of the church, there was a mobile dentistry where students could receive free teeth cleanings. There was also an inflatable water slide and pool as well as a dunking booth which my wife and I were in charge of.

Inside of our church gym, or as we call it, “The Center,” were several other activities for the students along with their families to enjoy.

We had free barbecue sandwiches and chips along with cotton candy and sno-cones, a man making balloon animals, free haircuts, face painting, a ring toss game, a milk bottle game, and live music.

For our first attempt at hosting an event like this, it seemed to go pretty well. The estimate was that around 75 students stopped by at some point during the day to take home a backpack and enjoy the festivities. Everything seemed to go pretty smoothly and I believe everyone had a fun time, students and adults alike.

Of course, I mention all of this not to toot the horn of my own church. I know there are several other fantastic churches here in the Tri-County who all have wonderful ministries that I certainly appreciate.

But I wanted to share this because it highlights one of my favorite aspects of God’s ministry that I believe often gets overlooked by Christians or folks who might be on the fence about giving their lives to Christ.

So often, we look at ourselves as not good enough or not worthy if we haven’t been called to be a preacher or the pastor of a church. We see that as the only important job a Christian could do, and if we’re not capable then we may as well not even bother. But what we often don’t realize is there is a countless number of other jobs that God needs us to do that are just as important.

I, for one, certainly have the utmost respect for anyone who has been called to stand in the pulpit. They have been called to be a reflection of Jesus every Sunday, and I constantly pray for them to be used by God how he would best see fit.

But there are many other ways to serve the church and to be a witness to lost souls. The important thing is you just try to understand what you’ve been blessed with and use that to glorify God.

At our Backpack Bash, for instance, we had several folks come together to use their talents and abilities to help be a blessing to our children. We had a dental hygienist offering her time to perform teeth cleanings, a barber offering his time to give haircuts, and a band offering their time to play music. We also had our creative teens offering face painting for the kids, our talented cooks who made delicious food, and several others who were willing and able to pitch in however they could.

Our pastor was on hand, but he, like many other pastors, probably wouldn’t know the first thing about cleaning someone’s teeth or giving them a decent looking haircut. But he didn’t need to do those jobs because other folks were stepping up and using their strengths to help do the Lord’s work.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

The Backback Bash was an organized event but you will have several more opportunities to use the gifts God has blessed you with.

In the church alone, people are often needed to teach Sunday school, to sing in the choir or play an instrument, to clean, to cook food, to greet those who are walking into church, to control the microphones and speakers, or to drive a church bus.

Those are just a few of the jobs off the top of my head. But I know there are many others, as well as an almost infinite number of jobs you can do outside of the church to be a witness.

If you’re able-bodied, then help out your neighbors who might be elderly or otherwise unable to get around. If you’ve learned a skill, then offer it up to someone who might be in need of those abilities. Or if someone you know is going through a trial or tragedy, then just simply do whatever you can to be there for them.

No matter what it is, the important thing is we understand what God has blessed us with. Whether it’s a special ability or just a healthy body, what matters is we use those blessings to be a witness to others and to glorify God’s holy name.

Brad Hall is the nighttime editor of the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at bhall@thetimestribune.com.

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