As you will know, I have been exploring the reasons why Milton Keynes is not always a city alive to God. A little bit of burrowing around in the statistics reveals some of the social issues which face us as a city. For instance, consumer debt for the city at the end of 2016 was running at £708 per person which puts us in the bottom 15% nationally; some areas of the city come within the bottom 10% nationally for the risk of loneliness; the category of most concern for the police in MK is domestic violence. All of those examples are amplified at this time of year with the annual low point allegedly on January 15th, so-called “Blue Monday”. These are realities for many people within our city.
At our last Assembly, I suggested that, important though revitalising the church is in terms of the city becoming alive to God, perhaps we also needed to look at our calling slightly differently. This is what I said:
Without question, the more we can “unfreeze” the church, the more effective we will be. We need to pay attention to the stuff inside the church. Of course we do.
But what if we were to focus less on the church and more on the city?
After all, that’s what the vision asks us to do….we look for a city alive to God.
What if we were to take a little courage, take a bit of a risk and let our faith take us out of the church and into the city?
What if we were to get involved with those tough social issues?
What if we were to really engage with the community?
What if we were about seeking the welfare, the wholeness, the well-being, the shalom of the city? Just like Jeremiah 29:7.
Take careful note of that text: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf…” and particularly the next few words, “…for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
Will we perhaps find that as we get involved, we will start to become purposeful, begin to develop spiritually, we will find our energy renewed, our capacity to share faith growing?
Is it that, in God’s upside-down Kingdom, our shalom depends on that of others?
In other words, if we want to unfreeze the church, if we want to unfreeze ourselves, we need to start with the city.
We learn as we go. Our faith opens up as we put it into practice….out there.
pdf version to download – Mission Partnership Newsletter February 2018