5 ways running a marathon will transform your church

by Merle Mees, pastor of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church on August 1, 2016

Merle Mees is the pastor of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri

 
Our mission as a church is to unleash the transforming influence of Jesus in our church, our city and around the world. We want to take Jesus seriously when He calls us to care for the poor in practical and tangible ways.
 
Last year, we decided that we could make an impact by training for the Kansas City marathon as a partner with Team World Vison. Our goal was transforming communities in Africa by providing clean water. When it was all said and done, our church community was transformed.
 
Believe me. Running a marathon was not on my bucket list, and what I’m about to say isn’t hyperbole. When I examine the mile markers in my life, there are only a handful that caused me to change my course:
  • I met Jesus and invited him into my life
  • I married my best friend
  • I sensed a call to ministry 
  • We had two fantastic boys
  • I trained for and completed a full marathon to impact children’s lives
As a follower of Jesus, I don’t want to look back at the end of my life and say, “My life was good and comfortable, but what did I do for others that will outlast me? What did I do for the orphan and the widow and the poor?” My heart was captured by this opportunity to change the lives of children and families, and it pushed me way outside of my comfort zone.
 
So along with a team of 200 others from my church, I laced up my shoes, trained hard and ran the full marathon. Together, we raised $150,000 for clean water.
 
As a leader in the church, the opportunity to partner with Team World Vision helped our church community serve together in new ways. That’s why we’re back this year. Our team has grown and our goal is raising $200,000 for clean water.
 
Here are the top five things I see Team World Vision prompting in my church as we train together:
  1. Catalyzes people around a common cause greater than themselves
    • Last year, when I invited our church to run with me, I thought maybe 100 people would sign up. We saw more than double the numbers respond to take on this challenge and significantly surpass our goal.
  2. Challenges people to take a step of faith
    • This year, our church administrator of 35 years, Cheryl, along with her husband Allen, are participating in the half marathon. They are not runners and Allen is visually impaired, but they have boldly said “yes” to helping others.
  3. Provides opportunities for new leaders to emerge
    • Four of our church members act as our team’s co-captains to lead and encourage us. One of those captains, Cory, said, "For us, Team World Vision has been about continual exceeding of expectations. We think we’ve accomplished something, but then God does more."
  4. Connects people in relationship that did not exist before
    • One couple, Seth and Anna, have been a great encouragement to our team. They are authentic in their relationship with each other and model that to others. They know and connect our team members in person and through our Facebook group in a very natural way.
  5. Cultivates a life of open-heart and open-hand generosity
    • One family of five, the Reams family, put it like this: "Training together as a family provided us with valuable, uninterrupted time to talk, to laugh, and to reflect. It was a great way to serve together and to help us focus on the needs of others even though we were not a family of runners.” 

Take your church on a journey of transformation with Team World Vision.

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