August 25, 2022
A community event from a local city councilor was a huge success. A community event from an outside Christian youth organization was not. What can we learn from this as we seek to join God on mission?
At last month’s Go Local Virtual Café, we had an inspiring and challenging conversation prompted by one participant’s reflections on some recent community events in her neighborhood.
A local city councilor had hosted a big community event for Canada Day, which included lots of fun activities such as face painting, jugglers, food trucks, and an outdoor family movie at dusk. The turnout was incredible and Sue (name changed) had appreciated the opportunity to be with so many neighbors, some of whom she had not seen for a long while because of Covid-19, and others she had never met. Sue was also impressed with how many neighbors were involved in the event as volunteers and how very well done the whole thing was.
What would happen if more followers of Jesus paid attention to, discovered, and joined in with what the Spirit was already doing in their neighborhoods?
In contrast, a few weeks later, a Christian youth organization came ("parachuted in," as one participant named it) to do their annual event "for the community." They provided everything—a lot of attractions like free food, bouncy castles, and big prizes. They also had Christian music and a speaker. But despite all the freebies, as in previous years, very few residents participated. As a resident, Sue resonated with her neighbors’ discomfort and sense of intrusion as these "outsiders came in to do their thing."
“Why wouldn’t they just join in, participate with, volunteer alongside neighbors at the community event that’s already happening?" Sue wondered. "They could have even had their own booth there if they wanted to, they could have helped out and gotten to know people. It just really didn’t make sense to me. I felt the awkwardness and resentment of my neighbors.”
Many other people shared similar experiences and observations. Together, we pondered more questions that are central to the work of Go Local: What if God was present and at work in the community event? What would happen if more followers of Jesus paid attention to, discovered, and joined in with what the Spirit was already doing in their neighborhoods?
Where is God at work in your neighborhood? How can you join in with how the Holy Spirit is already at work?
Written by Karen Wilk, a Go Local catalyzer with Resonate Global Mission