What has been encouraging as we look back over the last few years is the increase in our desire to seek and save the lost. We run activities in the hope that our community will engage with us and in hearing the gospel, will respond to God and know Jesus. What’s more, the encouragement has been to look around us and see those we live, work and socialise with and ask God for opportunities to share the good news and when appropriate invite them to an event here at the church.
As a church we have a way of life, we generally understand each other, we have a language, a common shared set of values. We know without talking about it what are the ways of doing things here. We want all people to join with us in church life, so that they may be drawn to Jesus and know him. It is encouraging when people who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus come and become a part of what God is doing here, we hope that through friendship, meetings, hearing the word they may choose to follow Jesus for themselves.
Our vision includes the call of God for us to move out of our comfort zone and to go into those around us.
God is calling us to not expect them to cross over to our way of doing church, but to go to them and create church inside their comfort zone, to learn their ways, to adapt to their ways in order that we may present the pure gospel message in their context. Creating church amongst a people in their own comfort zone so that it becomes accessible to those we are seeking to reach. “To the Jews I became a Jew…”.
What could this look like?
At present every 2 weeks some are going to play football in the cage at Briset Park, seeking to reach young people. As they develop relationships they then say that after the football they will be sitting down under the shelter to talk about Jesus and want to get their input, maybe first they don’t stay, then one or two do, then over the weeks and months a number are staying. As these times are getting established, they say, “We are going into the scout hall, going to play some music, have some food and talk about Jesus there, you want to come?” and so they follow, and what starts is the formation of a meeting, church starts to form. One guy gives his life to God, over the weeks they include interactive worship, or they start playing electric guitar, drums, decks, making music. The meeting is forming in a way in which these young people feel they can express, questions, worship, and then care for one another. A community is formed, discipleship occurs, encouragement for them to bring others to the cage for football and then to the hall for a meeting. What we see is an expression of this church in a context very different to what is happening here.
People with addictions
A couple have a heart for people with addictions. They draw others around them who will work with them. They have a wednesday soup lunch meeting, 3 of 4 people are coming for soup. Conversation happens over the soup, interest in what the church is doing happens. They are invited to a separate bible study, based on questions and answers rather than in-depth study, the meeting lasts for half an hour and ends in prayer requests. The meeting continues as more come, it becomes the focal point of church for them. Then they introduce aspects of worship, they start praying – asking God to do great things. People receive Christ, discipleship occurs, they are encouraged to bring others, spread the word. A community is formed.
The Timeout people are meeting regularly on Friday morning, they see it as their church. They find it hard to come on Sunday mornings as its too loud and they prefer a more traditional feel. So the team start including more of a traditional church feel, using hymns and piano. Encouraging worship in that particular style. Designing the church experience around their cultural context. Soon a congregation meets every Friday morning in the main hall, people are getting saved. They are encouraged as Christians to reach out, some start connecting with neighbours, or with the groups that meet in the Turning Pages Community Centre in order to encourage them into church. They are growing as disciples, not allowing their age to stop them from going deeper in God.
Church in a tea cup
A couple in the church share their vision for church in a tea cup, people get behind them, not just to support them but to see church expressed in a new context they start opening their home regularly and invite their contacts, a number of internationals attend. They start with food and as people meet they encourage them to stay and chat over a bible passage, some leave but some stay. The team are inviting people too, the group is forming and the team are sharing the load, some bringing food others bringing a testimony. A community is formed and has its expression in a different way to the others and that is what is so good, people are coming who would never come to the main church meeting.
The church continues to meet, worshipping as we do, encouraged by the word. Now and then we hear testimonies of what God is doing through the various communities. Through times of prayer others get the vision, for 18-30s, Superkidz Families or another area in Eltham, others get together with them and we send them out. As we all get together to worship God and give thanks, the meeting is slightly different, where young and old, rich and poor, various cultures meet and share and give thanks together.
The church is now expressed in various ways, in order to take church into different contexts, worship and ministry is still Christ-centred but expressed differently. People are being saved, discipled and sent out to make disciples.
As God leads us to see this vision realised, we continue to pray and follow his lead.