On May 19, 2012, we’re having an Elephant Wash. There won’t be any elephants (I asked the people at the zoo, and they said ‘”no”). Instead, the elephant wash will be full of kids and youth reaching out to their community. I’m hoping that there will be lots of cars and lots of generous people willing to buy lemonade. The Elephant Wash is Riverside United Methodist Church’s entry into Change the World Saturday.
A few months ago the kids at Riverside United Methodist Church picked a community outreach project. They decided that they wanted to help the local zoo build a new habitat for their elephants. The kids of our church love the Niabi Zoo, and they really got excited about helping with the zoo’s efforts to raise $4 million for a new elephant habitat. We are going to have a car wash and encourage people to make a donation. Before the car wash, someone from the zoo is going to come and do an educational session with the kids and volunteers. The zoo is also going to donate a painting for the silent auction. The artist will be one of the elephant residents of the zoo. Is an elephant wash going to change the world?
It depends on what you mean by that. At the very least, it will help the zoo take care of two of God’s amazing creatures. And it could do a lot more. It could help our kids learn how it feels to serve others. It could teach them to be disciples of Jesus by spending their time in fellowship and service. It could start a conversation with someone that didn’t know anything about Riverside Church. It could transform the heart of someone that thinks that churches aren’t interested in the community.
If you click here to search for a Change the World event, you can enter 61265 into the zip code, and see ours. Or you can put in your own zip code and see an event near you. You can register and volunteer right now, and your name and email will be sent to the organizers of the event. It is easy to argue that one event at one church couldn’t make much of an impact. What about 1500 events involving over 20,000 people? As of right now, that is how many people and churches are getting behind this movement. 20,000 people are rethinking what it means to be church. And that can indeed change the world.
Change the World weekend is a project of United Methodist Church across the connection coming together for two days of community action. Many of the projects support Imagine No Malaria, an initiative to eradicate malaria deaths through education, treatment, net distribution, and training; but Change the World is not about a single cause.
Change the World is about churches coming together for a day to get out of the church. It is about rethinking what it means to “do church.” It is about helping people to think about church as a verb instead of a noun. Church can be something we do, not just somewhere we go.