Serving at the Food Pantry

In One Accord

By Lauren Eisleben
ForColumbia 2024 Exec Team

As of today, 52 local Christian churches have committed to partner with ForColumbia 2024 on April 27th. One of the most common questions we get asked during this season is, “How do all those churches work together, coming from various different backgrounds and worldviews?”

We can only give one answer: “By the grace of God.”

Read more about this beautiful picture of Heaven on Earth as Lauren Eisleben recounts her experiences working with ForColumbia partner churches.

Lauren Eisleben

Lauren Eisleben

In October 2016, Shelly Mayer, Carla Fletcher, and I were in the pre-pre-planning stages of ForColumbia just a few months after the inaugural year of serving our city side by side.

Many things were discussed that evening: potential serving projects, our own personal time management requirements, how many volunteers we think may return in Year Two, and our biggest focus: partner churches.

The whole mission of ForColumbia is to get church leaders, staff, and members out of their buildings and onto the streets of Columbia. Together.

That “together” word is significant to what we do year after year. As local churches, we spend a lot of time with our respective congregations each week. We serve our neighbors, coworkers, and families. Sometimes, we gather with another congregation for a special event, worship night, or holiday service.

Visible Service, Deeper Impact

ForColumbia asks us to take these gatherings a step further — to be with each other for a whole day as we build relationships with each other and the folks we’re serving in and around our community.

With all the benefits of togetherness — in one accord — comes some strains. We face this question each year and, more importantly, how we believe Jesus would call us to answer it.

What happens if ForColumbia partner churches don’t translate the Bible the same during a Sunday sermon? Maybe (probably) we view social justice differently from each other. What about how our churches express their political views during an election year? And in the ForColumbia world, what happens when I paint a preschool classroom in the First Ward with a fellow churchgoer with some strong opinions on the differences in the churches we attend?

This is the norm, and we’re okay with it. We’re grateful. These differences bring life to Columbia.

Exhorted to Embrace Christian Unity

Let’s all remember Romans 15:5-6 (AMP):

Now may the God who gives endurance and who supplies encouragement grant that you be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify and praise and honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We could not get 52 churches on the same page theologically, doctrinally, relationally, and all the other categories. God is not calling us to do that, thank goodness!

God is the one who gives us “endurance” and “encouragement” to be with each other despite our differences. On April 27th, we will each set aside our own agendas and serve alongside a group of people. Many will represent churches very different from ours. And it’s because God will grant us the same mind according to Jesus to fulfill His work on the streets of Columbia.

Because of this, we are free to do what the actual mission of ForColumbia is: “Serve our city, side-by-side.” That’s it. That’s the agenda.

Serving those in low-income housing. Working at a non-profit building. Removing honeysuckle to clear our sidewalks. Cleaning Oakland Junior High School. Yes! These projects and more are excellent ways to sacrifice a Saturday and serve the Lord. However, we’re doing what Paul urges us to do: “…with one accord you may, with one voice, glorify and praise and honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Being with each other on April 27th means living in accord for the glory of our Lord and Savior. Setting aside our minor differences in expression and translation allows us more room to celebrate the fact that 52 churches in Columbia can love each other and our neighbors in one accord.

We are free to do what the actual mission of ForColumbia is: “Serve our city, side-by-side.” That’s it. That’s the agenda.