sitting on a sofa in the middle of the street

The churches in Colchester and the surrounding area are in the middle of a fortnight of focused mission activity.

For us it began with a community barbecue on our forecourt on Saturday – 500+ burgers given away, live music, face painting for children, a couple of talks, me doing some magic tricks (why did it only rain when I came out to do my illusions? And why did so many of them go wrong, I felt like Tommy Cooper!), lots of conversation, a good day. Thank you again to everyone who took part.

Couch 1

We have also got a couple of sofas which we are putting outside the church on the streetfront each lunchtime, with a sign: “We’re listening.” That sign might seem creepy outside GCHQ but outside our church it has led some people to come and share what is burdening them.

 

There are other activities throughout the week – some involving our own groups and some jointly arranged with other churches. There is a team of people working with the churches in the area to help us in the different activities and they have been a joy to work alongside.

This increased activity is alongside the ‘normal’ activity of being a church. That’s one reason why bloggages might be a bit more intermittent this week. It’s not that I have stopped reflecting, I am just struggling to find the time to share those reflections with you.

My reflection so far is that when we offer things that are rich in God’s grace and gently offer to be there for them people respond warmly and positively. They ask us ‘why’ we are doing things and we can engage in a conversation. By contrast there are other approaches that make people feel guilty and inadequate and they walk away – we probably all have enough guilt of our own, after all. I have seen some people walk past ‘street preachers’ and physically cower away from them as they are told that they are ‘sinners in need of salvation’.

Which would you choose? Which is more like Jesus?

Be blessed, be a blessing

epiphany

light bulbI had an epiphany this morning but it’s okay, I’ve got some tablets for it.

No, seriously (and yes I can be), I had an epiphany – a sudden message from God that stopped me in my tracks. The passage of the Bible I read this morning* was one that I have read many times and it didn’t jump off the page at me like it did this morning. It seems to summarise brilliantly so much of what we are considering at the moment in our church under the banner of a 2020 vision and what God is saying to me personally.

It comes from a letter Paul wrote to a church in Colossae and it’s worth remembering that it is written in the plural – ‘you’ means the church not an individual on their own and ‘pray’ means ‘pray together’. The extract of Paul’s letter is Colossians 4:2-6

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

This encourages me immensely. It encourages me because it confirms (if we needed confirmation) that the direction in which we feel God is leading us is entirely in harmony with the Bible. If it wasn’t I would be worried!

It encourages me because it reminds me of something I said on Sunday morning in church – that church is God’s Plan A for the world and he’s not working on a Plan B. The task to which he has called us as followers of Jesus is the same today as it was for the earliest Christians – to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus so we can be better free samples (individually and collectively) to those who aren’t yet followers.

It encourages me because it reminds me that everyone in the church is involved in the same task that God has called me to, and I have the privilege of being paid so I can devote myself to encouraging, teaching, supporting, resourcing and blessing everyone else as you fulfil your calling in your daily lives.

It has been a ‘shiver down the spine’ moment – literally – and those moments are usually when I sense God has spoken to me loud and clear.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*I use Scripture Union’s WordLive