Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Impacting the Neighbourhood

This post from Marcus Honeysett got me thinking about serving the community and impacting the neighbourhood.

This got me thinking.

What is my "motive"? What is our "involvement"? How far is our "reach"? What would our "community" say about us?

This year has thrown up a few surprises for us with regard to how this Church is perceived.
  • Firstly, the county council had a major meeting about youth work and they asked to host it here because we have the "largest youth work in the town", secular, church, or otherwise. We had not told them that. An upshot is in the new year the councillors are coming to speak to our 70+ teenagers about democracy, and our teenagers are going to pray for them and hear a talk about respecting government and what citizenship means (by me!).
  • Secondly, the county council had a large important public meeting and needed an independent chair, and asked Martin, our lead elder, to chair the meeting.
  • Thirdly, the press interest in what we are doing is growing, but more than that, there are now more press stories from other community groups who use our facilities than there are about Church activities.
  • Fourthly, other people who have been to the Centre have started to use us in their publicity! Take this story about a lady with an Owl here. We started getting press associations and TV companies ringing up to follow the story, yet we have never heard of her and can only assume she came to a meeting here hosted by an outside group!
This subject got me thinking about the "Centre" programme for the last fortnight, outside of Sunday activities. Gosh it has been busy.

Thursday 4th
National Childbirth Trust: 25 people
Newfrontiers regional Leaders: 25 people
Early Years and Childcare Team Christmas Away Day (with lunch): 56 people
Friday 5th
Nursery Education Funding Working Group (with lunch): 11 people
Impact (Youth activities, Youth Alpha): 70 people
Monday 8th
"Outlook" Senior Citizen's Christmas Meal: 40 people.
Lip reading class, 6 people
Greyfriar's Badminton Club: 25 people
Tuesday 9th
Barneytots Christmas Party (with lunch): 90 people
Healthy eating course: 10 people
Wednesday 10th
"Taking Part" Christmas Party (people with learning difficulties / down syndrome). 45 people.
Early Years and Childcare team: 8 people
Thursday 11th
Senior Citizen's Forum meeting with Christmas Lunch: 77 people
Friday 12th
Mental Health Services (with lunch) :15 people
Post funeral gathering for a local resident (with lunch): 40 people
Impact (Youth activities, final week of Youth Alpha): 70 people
Saturday 13th
Kidz Klub Christmas Party (with food): 70 people
Jigsaw Choir Concert in aid of Shrewsbury Ark: Number unknown - over 50?
Monday 15th
Outlook senior citizens: 30 people
Lip reading course: 6 people
Greyfriar's Badminton Club: 25 people
Tuesday 16th
Children's Centre Services Christmas Party (with lunch) 220 people
Wednesday 17th
Mental Health team Christmas Lunch: 35 people
Thursday 18th
Carline Fields (Sheltered Housing) Christmas Dinner: 40 people
Friday 19th
Hazeldine Court (Sheltered Housing) Christmas Dinner: 38 people
Impact (Youth) Christmas Party (with food): 80 people

So excluding any Sunday stuff, we have welcomed 732 people to non church run events, serving them something like 627 lunches. We have welcomed 475 people to Church events - many of them are non church attenders, and 280 of them were also fed.

So I make that 1207 visits, receiving 907 meals, in 14 days, excluding Sunday services.

The aim of this is open hearted service to our community. There is no hard sell. We have Alpha Course posters, and Carol Service flyers, but overall - all this has very little "impact" in terms of souls saved or bums on seats on a Sunday. That is not why we do it.

An elderly lady in the sheltered housing next door told her daughter that she was looking forward her Christmas dinner at Barnabas Centre. Then she died. So the daughter came across, and asked, because her mother had so looked forward to celebrating her Christmas here, could they celebrate her life here instead. That was the highlight of this Christmas for me, to be the place where people come even in sadness, because they knew in life we did them good.

That is a gospel in action that opens the door for effective witness, and earns our right to explain what we believe, because it has already been expressed in love. yet all of them are "them to us" initiatives - reliant on a building, a physical presence and an army of volunteers. I wonder how I could gauge the "us to them" impact of these two weeks?