The last installment talked about the mission–to holistically impact our community with the love and message of Jesus Christ. This, of course, begs the question of “how.” In the following paragraphs, some practical and concrete ideas will be detailed. Some of these methods are more than ideas; they are ministries in some stage of development. This will not be an exhaustive list; in fact, some of the most important and impactful ideas have probably yet to be conceived.
The concept of the Community of Grace is that of a partnership with like-minded ministries in the Framingham area, with the Framingham Church of the Nazarene as the missional and organizational center. Rather than attempt to take on every conceivable ministry or re-create the wheel many times over, the vision is collaboration when possible and innovation as needed. As God directs the mission, He will open the necessary doors to complete the mission.
- The Gospel is at the center of all we do. The Church of the Nazarene as the organizational and missional center leads the way by being a healthy and growing body of believers exemplifying the love and holiness of God. We connect people to Jesus by sharing His story and our own faith stories. We include them in the community of faith by loving them where they are and walking alongside them. Simply put, we “bring and include.”
- We build relationships by connecting to the community by meeting practical needs. By partnering with ministries like Daniel’s Table, which provides meals for the hungry in our community, we put a face and name to the person in need. The point is to learn that person’s story, perhaps to share our own, and learn how we can pray for and minister to that person.
- We offer a place of hope, help, and healing. We envision, among other things, a Community Counseling Center where people in the community can come to find more than psychological and emotional help, but spiritual counsel as well. We envision a Community Learning Center where school aged children can receive tutoring and mentoring after school, and where adults can work toward English language proficiency or their high school equivalency credential. We envision a Community Kitchen–part of the partnership with Daniel’s Table–where thousands of meals can be prepared to feed the hungry. It would also be a place where those on fixed incomes or who receive food from organizations like A Place to Turn can learn to cook nutritious, inexpensive meals for their families. The Community Kitchen would also provide a place of connection over food for people to come together and share a meal. We envision a Community Closet that would offer free clothing to the indigent coming out of prison, detox, or other situations. We currently provide underwear, t-shirts, and socks to men on an as-needed basis coming into the Bridge House program. This could be expanded to include women being released from MCI-Framingham or for those entering half-way houses or other programs in the area that have no means to clothe themselves. These are but a few of the possibilities God has laid on our hearts.
- We meet people where they are at. We envision what we are calling Recovery Church, a Saturday evening worship service centered on the Gospel and the twelve steps. This worship gathering would include a meal before the service, worship in music, and a message specifically tailored for those in recovery and their families. Following the service would be small group gatherings for support and accountability. We envision this ministry as a collaboration with other churches and ministries active in recovery ministry in Framingham.
Jesus made a habit of confounding the religious authorities of His day by going where no one else would, to the outcasts on the fringes. He confounded them by intentionally coming into contact with lepers, the unclean, and the shunned. Jesus engaged the powerful, plain, and penniless, crossing over cultural and societal divisions. His love knows no limits or restrictions. If we claim to be disciples of Christ, we follow in His footsteps, denying ourselves for His sake and His glory. Ultimately, our methods are His methods; His message is our message.
Did anything in what you have just read speak to your heart? Did some new thought or idea spark as you contemplated the possibilities? The vision is not rigid; it is fluid as the Holy Spirit guides and directs. Please pray for your heart to be open to whatever He is calling You to. Maybe it was listed above. Maybe it’s something else altogether. If God is speaking to your heart, we would love to hear about it.