Sheffield: joy and disappointment in mission
Over the past three years the Parson Cross Mission Community in Sheffield have held a dedicated yearly ‘mission weekend’ where they get out onto the streets to share the love of Jesus. Here one of the team, Becky, reflects on their experiences from joy to disappointment and back again.
27 people said yes to turning to follow Jesus and prayed through this with the person they had met! It was amazing!
What followed after this was the challenge of trying to meet up with people, to disciple them, to talk more about the commitment they had made and to invite them into a community of other followers of Jesus that they could journey alongside. This turned out to be quite a challenge.
My husband and I invited people to a group at our house to find out more about the Jesus that they had committed to follow by reading through and discussing the seven miracles in the gospel of John. We invited people in a multitude of ways and each week people said that they would come.
For four weeks nobody came.
I’m naturally optimistic by nature so it took the rest of the team to gently suggest that after four weeks it was probably time to stop preparing for this group. My disappointment was tempered at this point by another member of the team who reflected…
…what an amazingly privileged position we were in that there were 27 people who wanted to know more about following Jesus…
…and that we were part of a team who are excited about telling people about the love of Jesus.
We are now just over 12 months on and from that weekend and although relationships have dwindled with the majority of people we met and prayed with that weekend, I am thankful that we have maintained relationships with three of the households that were impacted and that these all happen to be on the street where I live. I am also thankful for the skills that we learned to help us articulate the gospel clearly and quickly to people that we meet.
This year as we thought and prayed about what to do for our mission weekend we felt reminded by God not to just automatically change any part of the mission weekend because it didn’t seem to ‘work’ last year, but to trust God that He could work miraculously through the things that we did.
Having said this, we did decide to change things for this year!
Partly inspired by the book The Way of the Blessing, we planned a weekend of blessing our community in different ways. This included a day of litter picking on a long road that cuts through the estate, a free skip for people to use, treasure hunting and praying blessings over people as we went. The following day we planned a fun scavenger hunt followed by hots dogs in the church hall of our local church. All of this was kickstarted by running a prayer room for 12 hours.
The weekend felt that it was marked by joy.
It felt a real joy to proclaim through our actions that Jesus loves the people of our area and wants to bless them. As I washed cars with children from our wider church family I could see other members of the church walking down the street with neighbours we had not met before to put things into the skip, parked on the drive of one of our houses; the area felt full of life in a new way.
A part of this joy was connecting with people; families we had not met before where we were able to offer double blessings of taking things to the skip with people and washing their cars, re-connecting with families we have known for a while and blessing them by washing their car, spending time with two neighbours who connected with each other for the first time whilst we were there, connecting with a family who had attended our yearly Christmas event.
Another joy was being blessed back by the people we blessed. People gave us hot drinks for adults, cold drinks and sweets for kids. It was such a wonderful thing to be in a position to receive blessing as well as to bless.
On the Sunday lots of families attended the scavenger hunt and the sense of joy, fun and connection continued. As we had hoped families attended who we already knew, some we had met on the previous day and some attended just from seeing the event on Facebook.
All of this was just a month ago and it is early days to say what the lasting effects will be. What I can say is that as a team we felt that we were able to communicate that as Christians we want to serve and to bless the people around us and that this is all because we know God really loves people!
As I finish I remain challenged by God’s word not to change things just because they haven’t appeared fruitful previously and I hope that as a team we will remember to seek out what God is saying to us as we make plans to serve and bless the people around us.