I am having a breather and I’m back home for 24 hours, and with a nice glass of red, my feet firmly up and a few moments to myself I’m considering how my week is going. I’m serving as mission enabler for the churches in Bicester and I must admit, while there’s hard work involved I am enjoying the ease and fruitfulness of this ten days of mission thus far. So what follows is a bit of a splurge as I share some random thoughts and try and reflect on what’s working well and why…
First off, some people from the churches (there are 12 represented in Bicester) have commented when meeting me that I’m the person who is leading the mission in Bicester. The reality is that they’re the ones who are doing the leading! You see, it has been designed, through consultation with all the church leaders for the small groups, be that home groups, cell groups or missional community groups, to come up with their own ideas to let those around them know that they are known and loved by God. The whole initiative is excellently administrated by Mandy and John Bentley and a good core team, but the actual projects have been designed and implemented by the small groups.
The churches working together are:
Bicester Community Church
Bicester Methodist Church
Elim ‘Lighthouse’ Church
Highway Christian Church
Orchard Baptist Church
Parish of the Immaculate Conception
St Edburg’s Church
Salvation Army Christian Centre
The Crowded House
Zion Way Church
St Mary’s Church, Launton
What these groups decided to do was completely up to them, depending on the strengths and gifts of the people in their small groups and depending on what they believed God spoke to them about to do something missional. One thing was for sure, the groups got to do something! This whole process was led through a simple bible study I wrote called Known and Loved and I have since offered it for free as a resource on my blog. (see above on the menu bar.) Through this there are 66 missional activities over these 10 days ranging from youth events to cream teas for seniors, litter picks and BBQ’s in communities to free screening of Noah the feature film… There are also a good bunch of Christians willing to give a few hours each day engaging in creative street evangelism. I have been surprised by the size of the team who have joined me in this.
They have joined me and some colleagues who are serving with me in using ‘plinths’ (definitely a Miranda type word, for those of you who watch the sitcom.) This idea is a new one to me… Having a series of plinths that carry a theme of generosity, and love to people. The idea is that they become something that people can choose to engage with, or not. Some also ask people to contribute and bring something to someone to show that they are loved and known by God. After a few days it’s clear that some ideas just don’t work, (like the love Bicester postcards I designed) but others seem to connect and ask questions about why we are doing what we are doing… Here’s a selection of some of them:
What strikes me so far is a hunger in the churches in Bicester to do more of the ‘go and tell’ and less of the ‘come and hear.’ Now, the street stuff really floats my boat, but the other projects that I have had the privilege of observing and encouraging those who do them has really blown me away too. The cream tea for seniors facilitated by the youth from the various churches worked very well.
The young people decided that not only did they want to invite their friends to the youth events running all week but they wanted to do something to serve their community and came up with this idea.
The Ex-Serviceman’s club in Bicester supported the initiative by providing the venue and others provided cakes and scones. The young people made sandwiches and served everything to the Seniors as well as providing some live entertainment.
One lady said “This needs to be in the papers! The young people have served us so well, what a lovely treat!”
I also joined a group of Christians from across the churches at a new housing estate where I did some clowning… What surprised me was that despite the rain people from the community came along wanting to know more and meet people from the half built new town!
You can see more of how love Bicester has been out together at:
The prayer throughout the week has worked especially well… It’s nothing too flashy, just a half hour slot three times a day where everyone from the churches has been invited to join when they can. These times have been powerful.
Oh, I keep referring to the ‘churches’ in Bicester. Tut tut. We all know that there is really only one don’t we? The Baptist church. Only kidding, it’s the one church who belongs to The Lord Jesus. What I have seen so far this week is a wonderful unity… Yes there is room for improvement like all towns and cities, yet the church serves one another in one of the most marked examples of unity I have ever seen. This really does make it easy for mission… Not only is this felt in the town amongst the people, but it creates a ‘thin place’ where the distance between heaven and earth is very thin… and despite the rain the church still goes out to be and share good news amongst those who have yet to work out what all this christian stuff is all about.