It is all too easy to have lots of ideas about what might be good to do in the community, and then feel overwhelmed by the possibilities and not know where to start. This is why it is so valuable to start with listening – listening to listen to the community with God: listening to what people are saying with the spiritual ears also open to hear God’s prompting in all that is said.
Part of this is about listening to people who live in the community to find out what is important to them, what would be welcomed and supported, where there might be potential partnerships. But there is also a deeper listening, known as Missio Dei which is finding out where God is at work and joining in. Listening for the voice of God’s Spirit with the intention of putting energy into those areas where God is already at work among people of goodwill.
Then we need to take the first step. First steps don’t need to be big. Some of this is about making neighbourliness and involvement in our local community a higher priority. It can be about ordinary and little things, which over time add up and help to generate a local micro-culture of good neighbourliness. We don’t always even need to run or organise or initiate something: often turning up or helping with something that someone else has organised can be a significant first step.
Some kinds of projects are best done together with others, so we may find ourselves looking for partners to work with. If there are other churches in our community, these may be good partners to work with, and it is good to be open to working with all kinds of other community groups too.
Practical advice on organisational issues and best practice are also available from local, regional and national charities. Many of those organisations, who share our concerns, are detailed on this website although the list is by no means exhaustive.
All of this we do as a core part of our Christian discipleship. Concern for the poor and vulnerable is a recurring strand within the bible, expressed especially strongly within the writing of the Prophets. It is a theme that Jesus expressed himself whenever he spoke of the Kingdom of God. Salt and light (Matthew 5), sheep and goats (Matthew 25) fruitfulness in Christ founded on love (John 15). Engagement in our community is a core part of our work as a disciple of Christ.
Working well with Volunteers – resources for churches and church based organisations produced by the Church Urban Fund
Loneliness: Accident or Injustice – Exploring Christian responses to loneliness, in a variety of settings. Produced on behalf of the Diocese of Oxford.
Fullness of Life Together: Reimagining Christian engagement in our communities. The report looks at how churches engage with our communities, asking questions about the dominance of service delivery models in Christian community engagement, and how fullness of life can be experienced together.