This is a guest blog from our Associate Director of Youth and College Programs, Sarah Barnett. Sarah is a New Orleans native who spends too much time drinking coffee and reading BuzzFeed articles.
The leaves don’t change much during a New Orleans autumn. While friends in other parts of the country are beginning to add layers to their outfits, I’m still rocking flip-flops. I force myself to drink the oh-so-beloved pumpkin spice lattes, even though the face-melting heat will linger here until mid-December. Despite the weather, though, the feeling of fall creeps into New Orleans in other ways: the feeling that it’s time to rest, to regroup, time to rethink and reframe.
Our theme for the coming MissionLab year is “FOCUS – Reframing Our Vision,” and the more time I sit with that title, the more I realize just how many aspects of our program that affects. Our groups that join us in 2014 will see that our devotion and Bible study times will zero in on how we are viewed by God and how that changes the way we view (and serve) others, but maybe we need to start even further back. Maybe we need to think about reframing the purpose of taking a trip with MissionLab in the first place.
Leaders, why do you want to bring your team to MissionLab? New Orleans is an interesting city, to say the least (we’re actually known as America’s MOST interesting city!). We have great coffee and even greater music. The food is off the charts. Opportunities to serve are everywhere you look. But what if you start thinking about your trip in terms of how it will benefit your own community? How does that change things?
One of the greatest ways to bring about change in a neighborhood is by empowering local leaders, INDIGENOUS leaders. If you want to see change in your neighborhoods, how about empowering the leaders in those neighborhoods? In those schools? On those sports teams? Even in your own church?
Time spent at MissionLab is a perfect opportunity to take your local leaders out of their everyday context, show them how ministry is happening somewhere else, and then bring them back home so they can put into practice what they’ve seen, heard, felt, and learned. You’ll find that even though we talk a little differently here in NOLA and we eat some pretty strange things, we’re really the same as the folks in your own communities: broken, imperfect people in need of a restorative, perfect Love.
There are MANY great reasons to join us at MissionLab. We need volunteers in New Orleans. You serve a great purpose here, especially through your servanthood. But what if you began thinking of this trip not only as a chance to do some good away from home, but also as a chance to prepare your team (no matter their ages) to change your own communities?
Just a little food for thought as we head into this new season of reflection. I’ll keep mulling it over while I sip on my latte and sweat here in the Big Easy!