I sat back in my comfy conference chair and pondered the question put before me. Does your church serve your city? A simple question, I know, but one that is easily overlooked, and which has huge implications in terms of your church making an impact in the area that you live.
The speaker shared his church’s journey, describing how they have moved away from using language such as ‘invading’, towards talk of ‘serving’ their city. They found that one stirred a militant and often dishonouring approach to win their city whereas the other captured the very heart & approach of Jesus.
John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’
If anyone had a reason to not serve others it would be Jesus; instead we find that in knowing who he was he took the lowest place in order to serve & bless those around him.
As a result of his church’s response to serving their city, they are now regularly invited to help write the Mayor’s speech and have been commissioned to produce an annual video capturing all the significant events in
their city to be played to all who live there. These were just two of many examples they gave as to the platform they have now been given.
I know this is simple, but it was what God left me remembering from my time at the conference; do you serve your city?
Praying into this on my way back to Croydon over the summer God showed me the importance of this simple principle: serving creates trust, trust builds relationship, relationship creates a platform and that in being given a platform is where you have influence. Where & how I went about the Lord’s business immediately changed and the fruit has already been significant.
My aim became to serve and bless the individuals, shops & businesses on my daily travels around Croydon and to see what God would do. After a few weeks I decided to commit to a new tech hub that included a co-working space & café too. It became one of my regular haunts and I committed to getting to know the staff there without wanting anything in return. Fast forward to December 2016 when after months of holding church events there, lending them our AV equipment free of charge as well as staying behind after hours to help clean the café and serve in anyway I could, we were asked if as a church we would provide a band to perform carols at their staff Christmas party to 150 people.
Even then we didn’t see this as our opportunity to finally blast them with the good news of Jesus, but instead committed to providing them with the best carols their staff had hopefully ever heard! Our aim stayed the same and so we asked ourselves how can we best serve this business on this special evening as a local church.
Their response since has been incredible and has come with real favour. They offered us their entire venue free of charge for our own church carol service the following week and they now keep their café open into the evening every Wednesday so that we can run our Alpha course which 3 of their café workers attend. Even more exciting and in some ways unbelievable, we now meet there as a church family for our Sunday morning services!
Jesus clearly told us in Matthew 28 the ‘what’ of the gospel, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The journey that I am taking our Croydon church family on is to better understand the ‘how’. To love Jesus and love his mission is to lead to serve those around us, trusting him to do the rest.
Everyday Church Croydon