“seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
God loves the city but the way we act as Christians does not always demonstrate this. We have chosen a mission field that fits our comfortable lives rather than the mission field of God. God wants everyone in the city to know Himself but we can act with fear and trembling when it comes to certain ‘no-go’ areas. Our own well being is linked to the well being of ALL the people that live near us and around us….note that…ALL! This is real community and we need to see ‘all’ of the city as our mission field and that includes some people that we will find difficult, uncomfortable and not necessarily those that we would associate with.
In my current role, I speak with churches and groups who desire to make a difference. The first thing that I am asked is for the ‘winner takes all’ strategy, thankfully they do not quit when one is not offered. There are things that can be done;
Pray for your community
Blindingly obvious but often a step that is missed
Be in your community
In a mobile city this step can be ignored but it is often the poorer and more marginalised that are least mobile and forgotten. The organisation that I work for is seeking to adopt a strategy for key workers of ‘live, work and worship’ in the community. Not everyone can adopt this but it is worth considering
Know your community
Be the expert of your community; who lives where? what is available? where are the services? what is the history? Be the sage of the area….it matters!
Love your community
This can be done in many ways. Pick up litter as you pass, open your home to people, be available to people, talk with people, listen to people. Love the people and care for the environment, you will be surprised how people respond.
Seek the welfare of the city….go for it….be amazed at what God can do!
“You don’t need to be from a place of disadvantage in order to serve the disadvantaged” Kenny Borthwick
“The poor and disadvantaged know things about the kingdom that we need to learn” Kenny Borthwick
“Decline in the church seems to start in the family” David Voas
“Parish geography needs further thought as more communities are gathered than geographical” David Voas
“Sometimes we need to break concrete before we can sow seeds within the soil” Mark Russell
“The challenge for evangelists is to be results expectant and not result dependant” Mark Russell
“Transformation is the inevitable result of the incarnation” – Joel Edwards
“Cities and churches can display all of the outer trappings of success but still be lacking in the sight of God when it comes to the marginalised” – Sean Benesh
“Your core values are influenced not by what you see, but how you see” – Paul Manwaring
“Keeping promises is a hallmark of integrity because it demonstrates that we can be trusted to do what we say we will do” – Graham,Huntsman, Blanchard
“Ain’t no love in the heart of the city,
There ain’t no love in the heart of town.
There ain’t no love, sure ’nuff is a pity,
Ain’t no love ’cause you ain’t around.” – Whitesnake
Listening to my iPod today and this forgotten song played on shuffle. The song was written with different meaning but it made me think of London and the context where I work and followed up a conversation that was prominent for me last week.
Where are the places where love is not around? Where are the places that have no love? Where are the unloved places? Where are the places with no Christian input, where love ain’t around?
Imagine a city where love is – because Christians are!
This book is written in three specific parts with time spent on stories from London, Manchester and Glasgow. It pulls no punches as it shares of life from the inner city gang cultures that we so often hear about in news items. The book is easy to read and follow and engages the reader by working through examples in the lives of specific individuals.
At times you are left questioning and wondering if there is any hope – this is wonderfully dispelled in the stories of Glasgow. There is hope, there are ways ahead and there are people who want to help bring change. The later edition has a short response from Gavin Knight to the riots of 2011 – this alone was challenging and worth the book price as it challenges some of the popular notions of who engaged in the riots and why.
A good, solid read – if you are involved in the inner city with young people then it will be worth spending some time with it.
“There is comfortable, middle-class economy. Then there’s the inner cities.” Gavin Knight
seek the peace and prosperity of the city into which I have carried you…….you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.