We had a very special time at the working together civic-church engagement consultation last month. It was so inspiring to be in a room with key leaders of unity movements who are strategically engaging with their civic authorities. In this context of a major economic crisis and the resulting withdrawal of local services, coupled with the changes to welfare payments, we are seeing rising levels of social need and yet great opportunities for the Church to arise and serve.
Theresa Grant: CEO of Trafford Council addressed the consultation and said that in 3-4 years time we will not have local authorities as we know them; the whole shape of them will have to change. She said "As Churches you have a vital role to play in the future of the country and your localities. You have a position of trust and credibility that is going to be invaluable during the crisis over the coming two years."
This opportunity to serve was picked up by Paul Barratt from the churches forum in Croydon when he related a talk their CEO of the council gave to them as he thanked them for speaking the truth, acting decisively to meet need and not judging those in need or those authorities when they fail to meet the need. "We feel you have come to serve us."
This theme of service was underlined by Billy Kennedy one of the leaders of Southampton Christian Network who challenged us "to serve the city, not try and take it for Jesus". To be "fathers and mothers of the city not just the Church, it's not our enemy it's our arena of service". Engagement can only be started when we accept and take responsibility for our cities, the places God has put us in, was strongly underlined by both Dave Landrum (head of advocacy for the EA) and Lloyd Cooke (unity leader in Stoke).
This activity and engagement can however only be sustained long term and driven forward when we do it from a base of relational unity. Individual churches can do some important service in their areas but to respond to the significant need at this moment we need to be as joined up as possible, pull our resources together and act as one Church in our towns and cities.
The consultation was jammed packed with information, best practice and inspiration, and all of it has been captured on audio and is available on the Gather website.
Overall the consultation was a strong call to not only work for unity to reach individuals for Christ and see the Church grow, but to dream and work for the renewal of the place God has put us in. To pray and serve towards a kingdom vision of what your city or town could look like in 30 years time. This is taking the purpose for unity work to whole new level. Every Blessing Roger and Lesley
Click on the links below to hear podcasts of the talks from these inspirational people, or alternatively go to the resources section of the Gather website.
Theresa Grant CEO Trafford Council Manchester. In 3-4 years time we will not have local authorities as we know them, the whole shape of them will have to change. It wont be about doing things differently it will about doing completely different things......statuary provision of services will have to be delivered by other groups including faith groups." You have a vital role to play in the future of the country, and your localities. You have a position of trust and credibility that is going to be invaluable during the crisis over the coming two years. "Do more of what you are doing and broaden your horizons to work with the community and statuary authorities."
Billy Kennedy from Southampton It's time to engage with society, it's a unique opportunity. I want my city to be a great place to grow up in and a great place to grow old in, that is a picture of the Kingdom of God. Studies undertaken by Southampton University have shown that in Southampton 75% of volunteering in the city is undertaken by faith groups and 90% of that 75% is undertaken by the Church. Our Chief Exec of the council said to us the crisis will get worse before it gets worse. We are here to serve the city not take it. We are to be fathers and mothers of our cities, not just of our churches. We must have a vision for our cities. The city is not our enemy, it's our area of service. Build relationships, gain credibility and be bold.
The Saltbox is delighted to announce that it will be hosting a national conference in Stoke-on-Trent from 25-27 June 2013 called TRANSFORMATION with eminent Christian leader and teacher, Dr Ed Silvoso.
The theme of the conference will be on Christian involvement in the marketplace and how towns, cities and even nations can be reached with the Gospel and discipled.
Alongside Ed Silvoso, I'm pleased that a number of other prominent Christian leaders will also be taking part in the conference.
As well as church leaders, this event should be of interest to Christians working in the public, private or voluntary sectors plus those with heart for prayer for towns and cities.
This conference will be very popular & so early booking is strongly advised. Booking will be available online from Monday 8 April.
For further information please see the attached conference literature or follow the link on the Saltbox website: www.saltbox.org.uk
"UK, can a nation be changed? YES, it's our time!"