Moving from Prayer to Something // #Write31Days // Day 27
So at the beginning of this series I talked about building a foundation of prayer before anything else. And the challenge then is how you move from that into something practical, and then how you move from that to something more spiritual, (assuming you aren’t just planting a church that is) and of course the key is to be guided by God in that.
A few things I’ve learned along the way are:
- Listen to God – If you are on a mission from God you have to be guided by him! simple 🙂 I had a bit of an eye opener on this, as I’m a planner and organiser, I’m often thinking of the practical things. In one particular prayer meeting I was feeling stressed that we were taking up all the planning time. One member of the group just said to me, listen to God, and all of a sudden it was like a download, answers to questions, lists of things to do. I just started scribbling it all down and that was all I needed in that moment. That isn’t to say you can’t plan at all, we need both of course, but never forget that God is the manager in whatever you are planning, not you!
- Listen to the people – The Mission Shaped church report (which although a bit dated now is well worth a read) had a section on ‘double listening’ – listen to God, but also listen to context. And it’s so true, we need to also focus on the area God has put us in, what is needed, what is missing, what do people actually want. The idea for our community cafe came from locals, Church in a Pub came when the Landlord suggested doing just that, our skip day began as a result of seeing what was needed in the area. Look around, ask around and move forward from that.
- Working with others – I’ve found it key to work with other churches and other agencies. It doesn’t always work and sometimes people don’t want to, but at least trying this is a good start. It also means you are keeping people in the loop on what you are planning. You don’t want to start something to find there is already a local group doing the same, or planning to do something similar. It can save a lot of time and energy to do a bit of homework first! And it may just work out well, as it did with our cafe, which has volunteers from 4 local churches. Also, as I’ve written before, it’s so important to at least consult with other churches, we are all in the same game, worshiping the same God and there is nothing worse than churches being annoyed at each other. You might find working together won’t work but still talk to each other!
- Which brings me on to communication – important on so many levels!! As I’ve said, with other churches and agencies but also with the context – keeping people informed on what you’re doing, and not least with your church. People want to know where there money is going, where time is being spent and what’s more, what God is doing! So tell them. We’re starting a new thing where each outreach project gets a slot on a Sunday morning once a year to tell the church how it is going which also means people get to see the leaders and to know who they are. Not only that but we have regular updates on our Facebook page too so people can see how things are developing. And one thing that I repeat time and again is – ‘you can put on the most amazing event, but if no one knows about it no one will come’! Whatever you are planning, make sure people know. Leaflet drops, posters, word of mouth, school assemblies, Social media – use it all. I don’t think you can ever over-communicate so go for it!
- Finances – a tricky one and again depends on your context, but you might just have a fab idea and no money. God often provides and opens up avenues of funding you may never have thought of, incurring the miraculous! But it’s worth looking into funding bodies of which there are many. Try those linked to the church or those are Christian but also if you’re doing something specific look at those that cover that area, for example we’re looking at running a homework club, so we could look to educational charities for computers or other equipment. If you are in the CofE your diocese may have a mission fund you can apply to and if not still ask them, if they think it’s worthwhile they might just find you the money anyway. And talk to people in the know, or in relevant positions of authority who might give support to your project, with the church/ diocese but also try your local council. You may find your church has funds to put behind your project too, but make sure you think about set up costs and ongoing costs, you don’t want to get a few months in and find there is no money.
So there’s just a few things to consider, feel free to get in touch if you have questions or would like to know more…