Have you ever been invited to a Raising Bee? If not, I bet your grandparents have, and if they haven’t, it is almost guaranteed that your great grandparents have. A Raising Bee, also known as a Barn Raising, was common in colonial times, and the tradition held firm in many rural areas well into the 1900s. In summary, a Raising Bee is a one day event where everyone in a community comes together to help with a specific project (most often the construction of a barn, school, or church). Prep work is done before the event that includes construction plans, foundation work, and materials delivery.
Don’t Believe Me, Just Watch
The best way I can describe this event is to give you the opportunity to watch it. Check out this video that compiles ten hours of Amish barn-raising construction into a three minutes and thirty seconds time lapse. Scott Miller, an Ohio native, created this video from 1600 images that were taken from 7:00am until 5:00pm, and yes, most of this barn was built in a single day.
“Raising Barns” on Serve Week
While we don’t plan to literally raise any barns this coming Serve Week, there are some similarities between Raising Bee events and how we have designed our community ministry opportunities. One obvious takeaway, as shown in the video, is that more can be accomplished in a shorter period of time when a group of people come together for a common purpose. Just as important is the fact that the environment of growth, learning, triumph, and struggle that accompanies stepping out of your comfort zone can be greatly enhanced when you are in the trenches of service together. A big part of discipleship—which is the word taught and life caught—that we see happening in Community Groups is found in shared experiences. Serving with others in your Community Group gives individual participants more confidence, provides an opportunity to learn from each other, and builds a stronger bond between group members. This is, in essence, life being caught.
The Example of Jesus
Jesus orchestrated shared serving opportunities for the disciples during his ministry on earth. The feeding of the 5,000 that is recorded in all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) is a perfect example of serving in community. Within these four accounts, not only do we see the disciples serving together by distributing and collecting the food that Jesus miraculously provided, but we also get a glimpse into their fear and anxiety about meeting the hunger need, attempts to problem solve the situation (apart from Jesus), and their growth in confidence and understanding of the power of Christ.
As we prepare for another Serve Week, May 14-20, let us not only focus on all that can be accomplished when our groups serve together, but in addition to that, realize the opportunities that we have to be impacted in discipleship as we make an impact on the lives of those in need around us. It is my prayer that Serve Week will provide these opportunities for hundreds of people at Mercy Hill who accomplish much to impact need in our community while growing in ways that they never thought possible through shared experiences.
-Jonathan Spangler (Community Groups Associate)