Monday, April 01, 2013

For the City, For Northfield, For Jesus

This photo is of the Archer House in downtown Northfield.
I started reading For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel by Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick.  I love my city and I want to be a part of a church that cares for the good, not just of it's members, but also for the good of the entire community around it.

I'm glad that CANVAS Church is a church like this.  In its first two years CANVAS has worked hard to build in roads of blessing in Northfield.  Some examples....

- Before planting CANVAS our pastors visited local churches to build relationships centered on Christ.
- Volunteers have done multiple, awesome tasting, catered dinners for local school teachers during conference time.
- Last Christmas we collected thousands of dollars in cash and goods and donated them to a local Crisis Pregnancy Center.
- Volunteers have provided free meals to women in a Northfield therapy group.

Probably most importantly, our pastors continually remind members of our faith family that "church" happens Monday-Saturday, not just on Sunday morning.  This is so important.  I never want to be part of a religious club that meets for celebrations once a week and could care less about impacting the city for good and for God.

In For the City authors Carter and Patrick describe 4 different approaches churches can take towards the city around them.  These are:

1.  Church IN the City
2.  Church AGAINST the City
3.  Church OF the City
4.  Church FOR

In the first approach the church exists in the city, but never extends or concerns itself with what is happening outside the walls of its building.  Churches that are against the city spend time and energy railing against all the sin and all that is wrong with the people outside the church in the city.  The third approach is for a church to just become like the city; this often means theological and spiritual compromise.

The fourth, and final approach highlighted is to be a church for the city.  This means the church stands on her historical, theological, orthodox principles, but does so while also working and believing for the good of all people in the city - not just those within the church.  A church that is for the city boldly proclaims the Word of God as true and authoritative, and at the same time, joins hands with other community members and fights against societal injustices and systemic issues like poverty and poor education.  When a church is for the city it teaches it people that Jesus is the answer, and it commissions its people to go out into the world as ministers to the lost, hurting, lame and weak - no strings attached.

I'm excited to continue reading this book and to learn more about how to engage my city with love and the goodness of the Gospel of Jesus.
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