This week we have a guest post in The Adventures in Church Planting series as Planter/Pastor Chris Sims shares his weekly spot with Pastor/Planter Danny Smith. Chris & Danny are members of the Wyoming Church Planters Network but I will let Chris tell you in his own words:
Danny Smith is a guest blogger for me today. Danny serves as a church planter in Wyoming and is part of our Church Planting Network called ‘Forever West’. He blogs frequently and this post is sure to be useful to you in your Kingdom work!
Love Your City
Moving to a new city can be exciting. Except for the whole packing up the house, loading the Uhaul, pulling a car with the Uhaul while trying not to lose your wife who is following you with 2 kids begging for something to do in the wasteland of Nebraska, and well, you get the point. Other than those parts of the move, moving can be exciting. It is one of those few occasions to start over. It is an opportunity to see a city with unfiltered eyes. It is an opportunity to make right areas that you know have been wrong.
Moving to our new city in late December was exciting. I can think of a dozen things I want to do better that I didn’t do well in my last city. I could list those reasons out but those who know me can probably fill those blanks in for me. Let me highlight one thing I want to do better here in my new place of living. I want to love my city better. I am not referring to the attractions or restaurants, though I do love to eat! I am talking about the people. I want my family to live, play, and work with the people who make this city unique and viable.
I don’t want to love the city for what the city can give to me and my family. They owe us nothing. Yet, we owe them our lives because each day the city is filled with people who are searching, yearning, and longing for something real and eternal. In my new city, 90% of the people are considered unchurched. In a time when people are less religious and more spiritual, there is a great need to give hope and life to their spiritual conversations.
So, how can we love our city (or town, village, community, etc.) better?
1.) Love Your Family Well: One of the best examples of the gospel to our city is for them to see us love our families well. Jesus admonished the religious leaders of his day for being religious but neglecting their family. For believers, we can be consumed with another church program or bible study that we forget that one the greatest testimonies of the gospel is how we as a family love each other. They can hear about Jesus, as they should, but they need to see the life change he has brought to our own homes.
2.) Go to Your Neighbor: I have taken a lot of mission trips over the years and talked to a wide variety of people. Honestly, though, I haven’t done well with my own next door neighbors. I take them for granted. We work and stay so busy that we’ll plan to stop by another time. I have started a simple step in doing better by praying for each neighbor I know by name and doing the same for those I do not yet know. I can’t wait for my neighbor to come to me, I have to go to my neighbors. Who are my neighbors? The same as yours. They are the people we live next door to as well as those we encounter in the hall way at work, the line at the grocery stores, and so forth. I have to start seeing people as my neighbor and go to them with the gospel.
3.) Go Back to School: Whether you have children in school as I do at this stage of life is a mute point. Every teacher and administrator is in need of help. They need people to read to kids, pick up trash, help with lunch duty, help with pick up/drop off, and so on. Go talk to a principle today and watch their expression light up when you simply say you are there to help. Be a good helper and not a Drill Sargent there to fix their school. Love the teachers and administrators, love the kids and parents, and be prepared to tell them why you are doing what you are doing.
4.) Shop Local: These are stores, restaurants, and service providers who have invested their lives in your city. They are the constant ones behind the counter or waiting on your table. Meet them, support them, and watch for connections to help you give them the gospel. They are the ones who point people to you when crisis arise. They are the ones who are thankful you love their city.
5.) Play Often: That is not a misprint. Get out and enjoy your city. Play in sports leagues, join the rec centers, take a spin class, join the book clubs, or whatever else allows you to be with people. Don’t retreat to the bubble of Christendom but step out and play. Let people see you cheer for their kids and struggle with real life. Play often so that you will find real life connections to the people of your city.
There are more ways to love your city but these will suffice for now. Pray fervently for God to give you eyes to see the people of your city with compassion and urgency. Whether your city is 90% unchurched or 10%, there are people all around you each day longing for something more. Jesus is all they need. He is more than enough. Let’s love our city so that all will know this good news of great joy that a Savior has indeed come!
Danny Smith is a Church Planting Apprenctice with Wind City Church in Casper, Wyoming. He is married to his best friend Talissa and has three children who teach him daily about grace. Over the past 17 years, Danny has served in a variety of church positions and blogs at lovingmayberry.wordpress.com.