At our wonderful sunny Canada Water Church weekend away in the welcoming and beautiful environs of Otford Manor in Kent a few weekends ago we had a discussion session on "Knowing the City". We also looked at the effect the City has on our personal and church lives.
First we heard some quotes from Timothy Keller's book "Center Church" on the challenge of sharing the Gospel in the City and learned that already 70% of the world live in the world's megacities, one of which is London.
The book quoted missionary theologian Roger Greenway who writes-:
It may be helpful to those who harbour misgivings about cities to reflect on the fact that urbanisation as a present fact for most of the human family is a reality under the providential control of God. In Acts 17 v26-27 the Apostle Paul observes "God determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.He did this so men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him" Viewed in light of these verses, city growth can be perceived as part of God's providential plan in history. God's redemptive purpose behind urban growth is that "men should seek him and reach out for him."
Through worldwide migration to the city God may be setting the stage for Christian mission's greatest and perhaps final hour."
In the discussion that followed here are some of the ideas expressed:
- who you surround yourself with in the city is very important, as we all live in small tight communities.
- the church community gives you great opportunity to meet people from all over the world. We currently have 29 different nations represented in our CWC!
- the city provides many temptations and distractions to keep us from following Jesus so we need to be very focused on giving time to our Faith and church community.
- although relationships in the church can seem quite temporary because of people constantly moving on, they are still very worthwhile as they can actually be continued long term (even for a lifetime) through email, facebook and easy travel etc.
- we need to be quick, open and intentional about making contacts and friendships in the church or people may be gone and our opportunities for life changing friendships and growth in faith may be missed.
- the church is all about relationships, firstly with God and then with each other- we need to ask God to help us make time in our busy lives for both these vital relationships.
- we want to make our church a model of faith, love and care which those moving to other countries want to follow when they get home.
- because the church is all about deepening relationship (based on the deepest relationships of all between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit at the base of the whole Universe) we must not underestimate the suffering for those who remain (especially Kruger and Stephanie and family) when others move on.
Paul, who has recently come to our church and Big Small Groups from India (via the Channel Islands) suggested as key verses to summarise our discussions on how to live in the city Ephesians 5v15-16:
"Be very careful then how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."
May we grow together in Christ and in fellowship with each other.