Saturday, July 15, 2006

Summer in the city 3 (technically 4 - not sure what has happened to my numeracy skills).

More from summer in the city. People first then learning.

1. People

I have to say that I have honestly been very surprised at the willingness of people in Sheffield city centre to talk 'God'. Every day it seems there have been many meaningful conversations had where a great deal of gospel truth has been discussed. I have also been surprised at the number of these conversations which have led to people promising to come to church on sunday and/or to read a gospel. If even a small percentage of these contacts are able to be followed up then the week may well prove by God's grace to have been a very fruitful one. That's one in the eye for my cynical heart then (mixing the metaphors I know, but see Ephesians 1:18).

I also have to say that I have been delighted by the team of people I have been working with, who have displayed joyful Christian servant-heartedness as well as more than a little giftedness at engaging in meaningful conversations with strangers. I have been challenged, humbled, enriched by my brothers and sisters this week.

Finally, the two evening events were well-run quality affairs in which many good conversations were had. The only possible negative is that both suffered from low-attendance. This was particularly striking given the emphasis permeating the whole 'project' on church-centred evangelism. The question it raises in my mind is how to encourage more involvement without resorting to the spectre of motivation by guilt (a non-starter if we take the gospel seriously). Having said that, there have also been many people who have given time, love and massive amounts of energy to the week and I'm sure this is evidence of the gospel at work. Praise God.

2. Learning

I think I've learned lots of things this week and been reminded of many others, here are a few pithy summary quotes from the Philippians teaching;
  • Joy is not the absence of sorrow but the conviction that the gospel is true in the face of sorrow, in the midst of sorrow.
  • Feelings are a notoriously fallible guide to reality but they are susceptible to truth which can affect, arrest and transform them.
  • We must allow the gospel to be the priority in our mutual engagement. Gospelling one another is the key to growth and perseverance.
  • When mutual gospelling permeates the fabric of normal everyday life the gospel no longer seems aline, strange or twee and talking of it within and without the company of believers becomes natural.

And, the final thought to close the blog;

  • We will only see the tawdry nature of our this-world trinkets when we see the captivating and intoxicating beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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