Along with another member of the housing estate I live in, we initiated a community meeting last night. It was great to see so many of our local community there. We picked a topic we knew would get people out of the their homes, and away from their comforts: parking. We knew it was a red hot topic, and it was.
But as we went through the agenda, and moved on to other residents concerns, a new topic came up: Young People and Children. New developments, like ours, are often so focused on the commercial side (i.e. selling houses) that community facilities do not get a look in. When the subject of what to do with young people and children came up, all eyes turned to me, and someone said, "This is your area!"
That's the frustrating thing about Devonport: I know several things the church could do which would make a massive difference into the area. Youth and children's provision is not new; in fact the opposite, for I have had many conversations which have come around to this area.
I may know what needs to be done, I just don't know how my church, or even any of the churches in the area can respond! Many of the members of my church have serious needs, and those who don't are already over-committed. I do not want to put my pressure on them, but is it for me to do? I am already busy with pastoral visits, schools work, folk night in a local pub, usual church admin stuff, meetings, Sunday morning planning etc etc. Can I also commit to this as well? What is more, I am, in many ways, inadequate in this area: not really cool enough to do youth work, and the wrong sex to start a toddler group. So even if time was not an issue, gifting, passion and ability make me a poor candidate. Is it my responsibility to do everything anyway?
We have been praying over the last few months for two things, along with a desire for more finances (funnily enough the two are at least partially linked!): we have been praying for more workers (as Jesus instructs in Matthew 9:38), but we have also been praying for people to capture the vision, so that people get sent to the church. Our model for this is Acts 13.
In Acts 13:1-3 we are told that the senior leaders in the church in Antioch were Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul, a real mixed bunch in terms of race and background. They are the key leaders of the Church, and I would guess by Barnabas' name being first that he may have been the Senior "Team-leader". Yet, when Holy Spirit tells them to send people on a Mission, after a time of worship and fasting, it is Barnabas and Saul who are told to go. So often when people are sent, it is key people, but not the
So we are praying that God sends key people, the best people, to Devonport. Too often the small, inner city areas don't get the best, but the make-dos. We are praying that God sends workers, and not just any workers, but the best ones. That God equips, empowers and envisions them for the task of reaching one of the most deprived areas of the country. Please join us in that prayer!