UNITY IN COMMUNITY
EASTBOURNE to HOOE
If church is important enough to you, then you will not let any obstacle get in the way of your being a part of it
Extract from Reflections journal – Wednesday 23rd August 2017
Hooe church is strange, in that – other than a couple of nearby farms and one large house, there are no houses nearby. At some point in the past the village, which used to sit around it, moved up the hill about one and a half miles to what is now called Hooe Common. This may have been because of the Black Death, work relocation, or most likely to avoid flooding. It would not have surprised me to hear that because of the distance, the church was poorly attended and didn’t have strong links with the community, but it was really good to hear how well the modern community, despite the isolated location, the quarter mile single track lane with no passing places, and the lack of toilets, supports the church and ensures that it continues to serve the community.
There are times when church leaders and church members get frustrated because local people don’t seem to be interested in the church. They don’t support it or attend any of the services or events. Perhaps the problem is that they – the local people – don’t sense that the church is interested in them! Before we expect anybody to get involved with what we are doing in church we need firstly to demonstrate that we do care, and we need to get involved in the local community.
Christians shouldn’t get involved in the community just for the sake of getting involved, and Churches shouldn’t get involved in the community just so that they can say that they are doing, or so that church members feel good about themselves. Churches and Christians should be involved in their local community because it is how they share the Good News of Jesus. It is how we show people that God loves them. How we get involved in the local community depends completely on the type of community in which your church is located and on the needs within that community, but whatever we choose to do as a church, we need to remember to keep God in it and to keep the Good News in it. We might do things that are fun, but we shouldn’t do them just for fun. Having fun is fine and getting to know people in the local community is essential but all that we do should be shaped by prayer and give witness to God.
Getting involved in our local community involves a lot of work. It can be time consuming and can present all sorts of challenges, but it is always worth it if we are glorifying God and extending His kingdom.
Of course we will only really be effective in this if we are working well as a community ourselves – as church community. Nobody is going to be interested in coming along to find out more about the church, and more importantly about God, if what they do know about it is disagreement, gossip and hypocrisy. The early church, described for us at the end of Acts chapter 2, has an impact on the community around it because it is a community in unity.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42-47 NIV