Curious, by Jo Hood, is a monthly column. Jo is the Visionary/CEO of mainly Ministries, an organisation that remains curious as they resource and support local churches, church plants, missional communities, and Christian schools to connect with whānau in the community. 

To be confident in our quest to reveal Jesus, I’m curious – is there something that can guide us?  

Whether you’re connecting with whānau/families in your neighbourhood or in your church, with work colleagues, with school friends or university mates, wherever your life takes you, you can reveal Jesus. If you’re wondering, How? Here’s a sentence for your consideration: 

Together, creating joy-filled communities of belonging where Jesus can be revealed 

We say this describes what mainly Ministries does best when partnering with the local church or community of faith. Let’s break this down. 

Together 

We need team. Connecting with our community, our neighbourhood, and our workplace needs many hands, many minds, many hours, many laughs, and many prayers. 

We need our community of faith. To pray. To resource. To participate. 

We need our community. Who else can we involve? There are others who want our local community to flourish – like the council or agencies working with the same group of people. There may be others in our neighbourhood, learning community, or workplace who are followers of Jesus who want to become involved. 

We need to offer ways for those whom we serve to contribute their ideas, their time, their resources. Rather than the team provide the basket of non-perishable food for whānau/a family going through a tough time, ask everyone if they’d like to contribute. 

We need the Holy Spirit. To prompt us. For discernment. To highlight need. 

Creating joy-filled communities of belonging 

Community is what so many are craving post-lockdowns. You might feel it’s done and dusted. But research states that many people have lost friendships, are a little anxious about new situations, haven’t got the energy to bounce back in quite the same way, or in the case of mainly Ministries, are new to parenting and don’t know how they can connect. 

A mainly Ministries’ partner told us of tamaiti/a child who continually ran around, disrupting sessions. His Mum, Penelope, didn’t do anything about his behaviour. Getting advice from someone at church, the Team Leader talked to Penelope privately, asking if one of the team contribute to their experience by concentrating time on her son, Mason, and giving her a break. The following week, Mason fell asleep in the arms of the Team Member during the session! Penelope appreciated the gift of personal space in her week and began to flourish. 

Joy is a gift. It requires us to be joy-filled, so much so we’re overflowing. It requires each of those on the team to be joy-filled, working together like hand and glove. It requires us to provide a place of joy, where people will see authenticity and vulnerability because we count it all joy. 

How can we create a community of belonging? Through welcoming everyone. Making a place that has no boundaries to jump over. A place that’s good for people’s emotional well-being. A place where people tell us their news and we not only listen, we remember and check in with them again. Not obtrusively but with care and encouragement. We create belonging when we recognise and acknowledge strengths. 

One of our partners recognised a love for photography that one Mum had. Each theme day, Vicky was asked if she’d like to be the photographer. She’d arrive early, with her two tamariki/children, eager to contribute. So early in fact that we’d be in karakia/prayer for the morning. Opening the prayer circle, Vicky and her young ones were invited to thank God for the day too. The circle disbanded with everyone looking forward to what God had in store. 

Where Jesus can be revealed 

How do we make our faith tangible? By speaking it out as a natural part of our everyday. Inviting conversation about faith and creating a safe place for questions to be asked. Safe places require us to ask more questions than try to give answers.  

How do we know where to contribute to the lives of whānau/families? By watching where God is already working and joining Him in that. A family in need – participating and praying a blessing as we do so. Inviting people to join us for kai/a meal in our home. Jesus ate with a lot of different people. Most of us are blessed with homes. Let’s ask others to join us at our table. 

How do we, as team, invest in each other? Let’s take an example from a Baptist church team who meet for an intentional time of prayer. After the session, they break into twos, chatting and listening. Then pray. This allows the team to be stronger and in turn, they give more care to whānau. This team also used the Five Love Languages to both equip them and strengthen their bond. 

To reveal Jesus requires us to take His claims seriously, to live out His way of living, to bless others ahead of our own wants, to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, and to create space for people to explore faith as we live alongside them. I’m curious as to what resonates with you as you ponder, Together, creating joy-filled communities of belonging where Jesus can be revealed. 

By the way, we change names and details to keep stories as anonymous as possible. 

Read other Curious columns by Jo Hood here. 

 

Photo: supplied by mainly Ministries, from iStock  

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