'Look for the connections your Church community has with the world – where do people work, live, shop and play? What needs might you be able to address in simple service as you live out your faith everyday?'
Our Church is in a market town with a long history of engagement in mission to the community. This was in the form of Mission Area Teams for specific areas in the town either geographically or demographically. These have now morphed into Growth groups which once again have become more inward looking with focus on the bible and pastoral support for church members. There is currently no formal focus on mission due to a difficult period leading to parish vacancy.
Whilst formally one could say that there is not much outreach or mission activity taking place, a second glance may tell a different story. One assistant church warden works in the local butchers and has connections to both church and the community. He demonstrates a cheery disposition and the face of Jesus as he serves the customers. Another church member is a postman in the local town and again is a witness in both the office and to those who he delivers. Where I live there are three other church members on the same road. We witness to neighbours and the family of the church members in a practical way through friendly encouragement and offering to pray when they share difficulties. Another church member is a manager at the local volunteer bureau and is also on PCC. He is a constant Christian witness whilst also practically using his skills and knowledge to link some of our church outreach activities to local need. Eg; three of our outreach drop ins (2 cafes and a soup lunch) are now registered as warm spaces and are included in the publicity provided by the volunteer bureau.
On a personal level, due to ill health and disability my connections to the local community are much less than they used to be due to physical limitations.
I swim 4 times a week for my health and use the opportunity to pray for people in the pool. This has also helped my own walk and I feel less grumpy towards those splashing water in my face constantly, since I've been praying blessing on them!
I also have responsibilities at church for safeguarding as the PSO (Parish Safeguarding Officer). Recently I have facilitated the inclusion of a young woman who uses an electric wheelchair to volunteer at the toddler group we have. Her parents are new christians and she does not attend church often but is getting to know some church members. I always make a point of speaking with her and encouraging her. She has now started volunteering at the toddler group after we quickly completed the DBS check and safeguarding training; she is thrilled to be helping. I have also provided face to face safeguarding training for those unable to access online training.
These safeguarding activities are not just tick box exercises but are 'Gospel work' that have helped to ensure that our young and vulnerable are kept safe by keeping all volunteers up to date with identifying and responding to safeguarding concerns. This impacts the community indirectly as 3 of those groups are outreach groups for under 18's. We can show our community that we care about the safety of those who attend by having robust safeguarding procedures in place. t
Safeguarding the young and the vulnerable is definitely in the DNA of Jesus!
i agree with you that safe guarding the young and vulnerable as important, as a foster carer having someone who understands my role is very important, its not an easy task and requires the person to have the gift of knowledge and wisdom, but also they have the gift of listening which as a carer i find very important as it can be stressful at times.
our young people have minds that may need more tlc than their peers at times.