Here is another story from the road. I’m collecting stories of new things churches are doing to join God in their neighbourhood. #1neighbourhood
This story challenges us to think about the passions and gifts that we have and how to use those gifts in significant ways to bless our community.
It is amazing to see how God can use our passions in ministry and mission.
This story follows the passions of a leader and friend of mine, Jen Smith.
While my passion is running hers is definitely dance. I don’t have a dancing bone in my body, but don’t underestimate Jen’s powers, she has even got me dancing. Baptists can dance!
Jen has held Performing Arts Camps at Windsor Baptist and Middleton Baptist each summer and this year Wolfville Baptist hosted a camp for the first time. These camps are for kids ages five to twelve and teach singing, dancing, acting, costume design and set design. The kids perform a musical at the end of the week-long camp during the Sunday morning worship service. The camper’s families are invited to come to the service and stay after for a "cast party" (fellowship time). The musicals are Scripture based and put in a fun, catchy way which makes learning a positive experience for unchurched kids who are the primary focus of the camps. Kids and parents from all over the community have greatly enjoyed these camps!
Jen also uses her passion to lead Ministry in Motion. Ministry in Motion is a dance group that has taken part in services throughout the Nova Scotia Valley and beyond (all the way to Newfoundland!) They use contemporary and classical dance techniques to teach Scripture and theological principles. They also dance Scripture in competitions (secular competitions) and at local community events such as the Broken Leg Productions in Wolfville. These dancers learn Scripture in a unique way and share Scripture in a unique way. Dancers do not need to be followers of Jesus to join the dance group. They have visited churches to lead workshops on how to start dance ministries in your own neighbourhoods. Jen’s passion for dance has been an amazing tool God has used to help her, and the churches she has been a part of, join God’s work in their neighbourhoods. What will happen when you offer your passions to God? How will God use it to connect you to others and join their journey towards God?
While I was serving in a church I took my passion for running and we started a “Learn to Run” group, where the goal was to have everyone walk/running 5 kilometres or 10 kilometres by the end of the program. We spread the word and let people know this program was designed for people who had never run a step before in their life. We invited anyone to come that was interested in improving their physical health. I’ll always remember that first night – we planned for about 15 people and got over 50! After our walk/run each night, we’d have a short informational session while we stretched. These info sessions helped people with various areas of their health and acknowledged every part of us – physical, emotional, spiritual and mental - is important and needs to be an integrated whole. The Learn to Run group made more connections in the community and more friendships across our city than any Small Group, Bible Study, or Sunday Service did. It helped change the stigma some people had of “church” and “Christians.” God came up in conversation in more than one walk/run as we encouraged each other in our physical health and allowed space for honest conversations about life, our whole selves, and God.
I’ve seen God use passions for knitting, bugs, painting, board games, hockey, photography, cooking… and use them as ways to connect us with others and join their journey towards God.
As we join God in our neighbourhoods – what passions do you have?
How can you offer your passions and hobbies to God to connect with more people in your area?
As you do this, watch for where God is at work – bringing Himself up in those conversations and shared passions. Watch for where God wants you to show His love in tangible ways to those around you. Watch for why God has you there for such a time as this. Watch for opportunities to talk about God’s amazing grace. Watch for God and be ready to join His work.
I can’t wait to see what you do!