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How big or ‘impressive’ do our mission initiatives need to be before we share them with others?

I’m part of a small missional group in the outskirts of Stroud, Gloucestershire. Our aim is to connect with God and with our fellow (local) Christians so that we are developing as disciples of Jesus, and are better able to encourage and equip each other to connect with our neighbours. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out that the group is called ‘Connect’. We are relational, fairly low-key, but in spite of that, genuinely seeking to make a difference in our community.

Last year the local public (disused and wrecked) Telephone Box became available for ‘adoption’. To cut a long story short we decided this was another opportunity for us to try to communicate something of God’s grace within our local community. We offered to ‘adopt’ it, paid to get the door repaired, and then thought ‘Agh! What are we going to do with it’?

In a recent Core Group meeting one of the members of our group shared a quote from the late John Stott, ‘Our culture’s quest for significance, transcendence and community … is on our side in our evangelism, because people are looking for the very things we have to offer them.’ This really struck a cord with me and we began to consider how we might express this through our recently adopted Telephone Box.

The local Parish Council, whose job it is to oversee such things, got in touch to say. ‘Thank you for adopting the Telephone Box… please let us know how you are going to use it’. I thought about replying, ‘we are going to use it to encourage a sense of the transcendent in our community’. Call me paranoid, but I felt that might not go down very well – nor for that matter, be understood!

We’ve settled on a two-fold purpose: to use the Telephone Box as a space to enable personal reflection and encouragement, and to bring about a growing sense of community. We’re going to try to to achieve this in various ways, such as exhibiting appropriate posters and messages; the availability of free ‘gifts’ like pot plants & flowers; advertising helpful community events and opportunities to connect with others (some of which we ourselves will organise); encouraging acts of random kindness; and the availability of ‘poo’ bags for dog-walkers!

Is this going to change the course of history for our community? I don’t think so. But my prayer is that this might become a bit of a talking point – somewhere for parents to peek inside with their little children as they leave the nursery opposite and somewhere that someone by God’s grace might just happen upon a message, a phrase or a word of hope, during a difficult or lonely day.

Is it big or ‘impressive’ enough to share with you now? God only knows. Either way, we’d value your prayers and any good additional suggestions you might have (comment below) about expressing our purpose in using the Telephone Box.

 

Alisdair Longwill

Alisdair is a Regional Minister with the West of England Baptist Association and is also part of a small missional community near Stroud in Gloucestershire.