People Over Projects

How can we help? And where do we begin? These were the two questions our church faced as we looked at the needs of Memphis. The answer was found in a quarterly workday that has now grown into a constant mission—Bellevue Loves Memphis. This initiative made us dive into our local missions strategy and think about how we can apply the methods that we use to reach people around the world to reach the people in our own city.

Sixteen years ago, volunteers and Bellevue members participated in the first Bellevue Loves Memphis Workday. Flower beds were weeded, roofs were repaired, care packages were handed out, and projects were completed. But were people seen and heard?

“I believe the evolution of Bellevue Loves Memphis can be described in one word: relationships,” said Missions Pastor Ben Taylor.

In the early stages of Bellevue Loves Memphis, the goals were project-focused. It was about getting things done, but the strategy began to shift when the real focus became clear.

“As time went on, we built strong relationships with partners in the communities we serve and came alongside them to hear their vision for their community and ministry,” Ben said.

Volunteers continued to serve on quarterly Bellevue Loves Memphis Workdays, but it eventually became more than a one-day effort. It evolved into an ongoing effort to come alongside ministries and people in our city, to be partners in ministry.

Partnerships can’t happen without people—the common thread woven through every missions project. When we look at serving locally through a people-focused lens, it all changes. We give away school supplies so students have the tools to be successful. We provide childcare for a few hours so foster parents can feel supported. We clean out a widow’s gutters so she doesn’t feel alone.

It’s not about just crossing tasks off a list. It’s about investing in people through those tasks. As Ben mentioned in his sermon “Live on Purpose,” investing in our city is not a suggestion from God. It’s a command, and it’s not optional.

Ben shared that serving is “the outward expression of your inner faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” And one of the most straightforward, outward expressions of faith is love for our neighbors—Bellevue Loves Memphis. Are we showing that love and putting it into action?

“We want our lives to move beyond the transactional relationships that we are familiar with and into transformational relationships that change lives,” Ben said. “The Gospel transforms people, so our focus must be on the people of our community and not projects.”

Becoming involved with a project or ministry is how you get started. It’s how you meet the people God has called you to love. To learn more, visit