The mission of the church, as we understand it, is to help others live in light of the gospel. That means sharing the good news of Jesus with those who don’t know him and helping those who do know him understand how the life, death and resurrection changes everything. This is not an institutional mission, it is actually the life call of every believer.
In most of the churches that I have been a part of or even led, the mission as a church was carried out in a handful of activities that we (the whole church) did together throughout the year. Some of those things included Vacation Bible School, annual Mission Trips in and out of country, and maybe a Fall Festival – all really good things. After years of leading in many of these and participating in others I came to realize that only a small portion of the actual church family were involved in these mission opportunities.
So, with the start of New City we sought to change that, to engage more people in the church’s mission together by pressing local missions primarily through our Missional Communities. The Crosby MC has recently decided to engage with one of Macon’s greatest parks, Tattnall Square Park, downtown. I asked one of the Crosby MC folks to tell us a little more about what they are doing.
“We chose Tattnall park as our missional focus for the year.
A. It was a convenient location for our group- which includes families from Macon and Warner Robins. it's easily accessible from the interstate and most of anywhere in Macon.
B. It was a place that any of our families could go to alone, or at their convenience, as well as together.
C. Given we have lots of families with kids, the park is a natural environment for us to hang out. We said kids attract kids - we knew we would already have something in common with some of the people we would meet there.
Tattnall also provides opportunity to interact with Mercer students and the families in the neighborhoods surrounding the park. We liked that with church being downtown. New City would also be easily accessible for the people we meet at the park.
We want to be present often in the park - Lunches, play dates etc. We will also have some kind of group presence two Fridays a month, which may include food- grill in the park/ pizza once a month… something like that. We will advertise the events in the park as well as the Tattnall Square Park Facebook page, just to let people know. We will also try and stock the little library in the park with appropriate and fun books
We want to build relationships with the people we meet and that will only happen if we continue to go back.
Our first group event there was in July. With the hype lately about the rock painting and hiding- we thought that would be a fun way to interact with people, and leave some "happy" around the park after we left.
We created a facebook event, shared with friends and shared to the Friends of Tatttnall Park Facebook page. Had a great turnout. People brought picnic dinners for their families. We had tables set up with paint supplies and rocks. Kids and adults alike painted and hung out together. We had friends and walk-ups join us. Then we dispersed in groups and hid the rocks around the park.
It was a great night of fun and fellowship.
The kids and I were at the park the following week and we ran into Isaac- one of the first men we met at the park a few weeks ago. Isaac lives somewhere downtown, is not employed and seems to frequent the park during the day. He was thrilled we remembered his name and he had one of the rocks we painted in his pocket. The kids and I were able to hang out with him for a while- we learned he loves Mountain Dew and cookies- so I'll be sure to have those again next time we head down.
That day was a reminder for me of why we need to keep going back - It's relationships - and we can't build those if we don't keep interacting with the same people- we have to keep going back. I can't wait to see what the next year holds. I think we have a huge opportunity to love on that community and to show them what gospel-centered community really looks like.”
Imagine… 10 Missional Communities with similar commitments – to parks, schools, neighborhoods.
Imagine the whole church engaging with its city and communities over and over throughout the year.
Won’t it be beautiful?
Through those new relationships we will have the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus for the people and places of our city and to tell them.