Have you ever had that secret fear that if you stepped away from everyone you knew that no one would really miss you? No one at work, school, family or church.
Who in our neighbourhood would notice if our church stopped meeting? Do people notice us because of what we provide for them or because of who we are?
Two years ago, the New Hope Community Services Society (Refugee Houses) which we started moved their main center to Surrey; this week, the Foodbank let us know they were transferring their FoodHub Depot from our facility to the South Van Neighourhood House. These two ministries of ours were key outreach points in helping us to establish our current reputation as a vital community partner and community builder. What happens now?
What if we redevelop our facility and disappear visibly from the community for two years? Would we be missed? Would we be anticipated when we came back?
Our mission is to make disciples of Christ from all nations. Our practice is to love God and to love our neighbour. Depending on programs and events which we create doesn’t make disciple makers who make disciple makers.
Perhaps it’s time to get back to basics – small home groups, practicing friendship, mentoring plus sharing our faith with our neighbours through hospitality and community service.
A year ago, we were asked, along with other flourishing churches, how we engaged with our neighbourhood. The initial results were published in the January / February edition of Faith Today by Joel Thiessen. He writes: “Without exception, the congregations we identified as flourishing appear to have done their homework on the community where they are situated. They say they know who lives in their community. They know facts about family status, stage of life, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and more. From this information churches identify what possible needs, points of convergence and opportunities exist. Churches garnered this information by speaking with local community association and organization leaders, reading city demographic reports and interacting with neighbours in various social settings around the church property.”
It seems clear that neighbours would notice us if we noticed them first. They would engage with us if we first engaged with them. Perhaps it is time to try something new in our neck of the woods. Anyone out there willing to risk new ideas on reaching our neighbours?