Over the past few years Kim and I have worked at being involved in our community. I am the local tennis club coach. Kim is the Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator. I have written articles on issues affecting our Valley which has drawn some attention. Added to our efforts, others from our church have also been getting involved in our community. Janette Boyle recently represented the church at a Council future planning meeting. Others in our church are volunteer fire-fighters with the local brigade. Each month, a few of us go into the local Nursing Home and sing hymns and share an uplifting message of hope from Scripture. Andrew Jones represents our church as the chaplain to our two Colleges. Stephen Hill, an elder in our church, works for CityMISSION and represents us to many people who are struggling in our Valley. And many of us are working in and around our city as ambassadors for Christ and representatives of our church.
The other major thing I felt God put on my heart that would build bridges between us and our community was to be proactive in getting our message outside of our four walls. This is why we keep our websites up to date. This is why we advertise on commercial radio. This is why we advertise on commercial TV. This is why we broadcast on WAYfm. This is why we YouTube. This is why we Tangle. This is why we Podcast. And this is why we are about to Vodcast.
Romans 10:14 ¶ But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
For us to achieve all that God intends for our church will continue to require that we build bridges with people in our community. We really want to serve our community of the Tamar Valley. Rather than being focussed entirely on building our church perhaps we should be more focussed on bridging our church (to the community). In many respects this is already happening. We have several of our young people now working in and around our community who are serving Christ by serving their employers and representing Christ and His church to a watching and waiting world. We have several people in our church who are in business in our Valley. They employ people. They help our Valley to prosper. They give people dignity, purpose, and meaningful activity. We have several school teachers in our church family. They pass the baton of knowledge onto the next generations with hands that hold the hand of Jesus. They help children to join the seemingly random dots of this world in an otherwise incoherent world so that these dots make a picture of the Cross and of Christ who conquered the world from there. We have Mums in the church who are dedicated to raising their children and creating a positive home-life for their families. They teach their children how to love Christ and help in an unequalled fashion to further the Great Commission of Christ so that the legacy of devotion to Jesus carries on for further generations long after they are gone. We have retirees in our church who quietly serve in our communities as volunteers. They also continue this volunteering into our church doing many of the things that must be done through the week or on a Sunday.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
You may not think that what you do - at home with your family or on your own - is of that much significance, but it is. A few years ago when we used to live in a suburb of our city, a lady across and down the road came out and over to me as I was putting my girls in our car. She asked for help. Then she made a comment about my fathering and my family. "I've seen you with your children..." Fortunately what she had seen left a positive impression on her. Curiously though, it had not been my intention to put a show on for our neighbours. We were just being "us" all the time. I drove home to me at the time and for months afterwards that we are all continually on display to our community.
It is my prayer that we can continue to get involved in serving our community. Whether it be as parent-help at our schools, volunteer sports team coaches, making meals for newcomers to our community, Neighbourhood Watch, local business or importantly building strong homes. These are just some of the bridges that we are currently building between us as a church and our local community. It is just one way that we earn the right to share with some people about the love of Christ and the meaning He can give to an otherwise meaningless existence. And then it is also my prayer that what we do as a church together (meeting to worship on Sunday, Carols By Candle Light, etc.) will also impact our community to the glory of God.
Philemon 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.