Monica and Sheri...both in ministry.
Last week, I got hooked on the Netflix docu-series, “Cheer.” It focusses on the Navarro College Cheer Team’s march to the national cheerleading championship competition in Daytona. When I first heard about “Cheer,” I wasn’t very motivated to watch it. What’s interesting about watching cheerleaders preparing for or doing some stunts? It turns out there’s a lot that makes this particular cheer group well worth watching.
Cheerleading literally saved the lives of some of these kids. Through cheerleading all the athletes (and let’s be clear, they are athletes) found purpose, structure, and motivation. As I watched the final episode on the plane last night, I was happy that no one was sitting beside me because I was bawling like a baby.
Monica Aldama is the hard-edged cheer coach and momma bear of the group. No one messes with Monica nor do they cross her…and that includes anyone who wants to talk smack about her kids. She expects a lot. She also gives a lot, and in turn, each of those students is devoted to her. Somewhere in the documentary, she says – not in an overt way – that what she's doing is ministry. She’s motivated by her deep faith to work with and love kids – some of whom need a second chance or who have never felt the love of a mom. Through her supposedly non-ministerial career she is, in fact, doing the work of God.
There’s another person who, though she doesn’t have a Netflix series, is likewise doing ministry. In November, I went back to my old US-2 haunts in Richmond, VA (yes, I was a United Methodist missionary) to see my BFF. On our way to Meg’s house we passed a bright orange water jug on Grove Avenue. The dispenser was on a simple little table along with some paper cups. Meg explained that Grove Avenue was the route for many runners.
Sheri Crowell lives on Grove Avenue and about ten or twelve years ago she listened to the thirsty lament of runners. She heard them say, “I would be a better runner if people would leave some water out.” Sheri’s response? “I can do that!” And the “Grove Avenue Water Stop” was born.
The city has seemingly embraced the water stop. The community has too. People leave her notes and gift cards. They yell out “thank you.” They decorate the water jug and its table for the holidays. The water stop even has its own Facebook page. Yes, the jug and the table have been stolen a few times over the years but that hasn’t deterred Sheri in the slightest. This is for her beloved community.
Like Monica of “Cheer” fame, Sheri isn’t an evangelist in the traditional sense. She told me, that though she doesn’t say it out loud very often, her ministry is “Cups for the Kingdom.” An act of kindness. Sheri is offering a cool drink of water to anyone in need. And that – if you think about it – is what Jesus told us to do.
So, what’s your ministry? How are you changing your community, one person at a time? Whether you have a degree from a seminary or no degree at all, you are called to minister to someone or to something. You are called to live and lead a life of generosity. You are called to change your little corner of the world. And that, my friends, is something to cheer about.
P.S. Don’t forget! I’ll be doing a one-hour webinar, Increasing Joy, Increasing Generosity in Your Congregation tomorrow at 4pm (PST) for Practical Resources for Churches. Find out more and register here.