Over the summer, I learnt something new about reaching out to people in the Inner West with the gospel of Jesus.
On the one hand, what you might call the ‘macro-culture’ is very critical of the church and Christianity. Reinforced constantly by the media, and given credence by failures within the church, and a failure to admit those failures, there is a deep macro-level hostility out there.
At the same time, the micro-culture can be quite different from that. Literally hundreds - possibly even 1000 - non-church people attended the different summer outreach events that were held across CCIW, with real enthusiasm, and even thankfulness. One Ashfield neighbour commented to me at Basecamp, “This church is doing a great job”, and it seemed to sum up the mood.
And the curious thing is, the same people can inhabit both the macro-culture and the micro-culture at the same time!
One implication of this is that we mustn’t listen only to the macro-culture, and we mustn’t base our activities, decisions, or our expectations on it. The soil for outreach is crusty on the outside, but in many cases, softer under the surface.
And so, it is with great hope in God that we re-launch this coming week the Adopt-a-Block program, with many more people involved and lots more blocks covered. If you haven’t been contacted about that, but would like to be involved, then let me know.
And can I also ask you to put in your diary, and pray for, our 'Wine, cheese and a conversation about Euthanasia and God’ event, coming up on March 15, 7:30pm in the St John’s Ministry Centre. This is a really significant topic for our society, and one on which informed, respectful dialogue is very much needed, rather than slogans and anecdotes. Our panel includes Dr Megan Best, arguably Australia’s foremost medical ethicist and researcher in this area, and so it promises to be an excellent night. Is there someone you might be able to invite who would be interested in the issue?
In the end, of course, our confidence in outreach is not a product of the closed-ness or open-ness of the culture, but of the glory and grace of God. Which is why we join with the Apostle Paul in affirming that we, too, are not ashamed of the gospel!