“The hardest thing to get my head around,” said a Resonate Go Local team member from Calgary, “Was to stop thinking that being missional meant bringing something to my neighbourhood that wasn’t there before, and to instead start asking how I might join what God is already doing!”
In some ways, COVID-19 has made “Go Local thinking” more obvious and accessible to churchgoers. Why? While we’ve always known the church is not a building but a people, in these past 10 months we’ve been forced to live into that reality like never before.
Sometimes, we think of mission a little too much like a transaction. We’ve got the gospel (or God) in our possession, and we bring it someplace where they don’t have it. Go Local takes a different approach. Let’s assume the God-who-spoke-all-things-into-being-with-a-word is already present wherever we go before we get there, nudging, inspiring, calling, and culling goodness and shalom.
If that’s the case, our “job” as Christians isn’t so much about convincing people of something or getting them to attend church with us—it’s about seeing, celebrating, and bearing witness to what God is already doing, and then joining in.
In Kamloops, BC, for example, Sahali Fellowship (a congregation that has both participated in and championed Go Local), blessed their neighbourhood by launching a mini-pantry this past summer. The idea was much like the Little Free Libraries where you can take a book or leave a book, but this time with pantry items.
The project, initiated during COVID-19, was compelling enough that local news radio reported on their good work (hear the story here). Rev. Jana Vanderlaan was quoted saying, “You can always grow community, you can always deepen friendships, deepen supporting relationships, any idea like this free pantry is just one more way we can build deeper connections.”
She’s right! And what makes this indicative of a “Go Local” approach was that the church didn’t merely provide a service for their neighbourhood. Don’t get me wrong—it’s great when churches serve their neighbours by shoveling driveways, delivering groceries, helping a neighbour hang Christmas decorations, etc.
But an initiative like the mini-pantry isn’t about the church becoming the “us” with resources meant to serve “them” with less... instead the church became a facilitator so neighbours inside and outside the church could bless and express love to one another. Do you see the difference?
If we assume God is already at work in our neighbourhoods (and in the minds and hearts of our neighbours) then instead of asking “what need can we fill,” we start looking and listening to discover the ways God is already at work and imagine how we can join in! For many, this is a radical shift in thinking.
This shift (along with all those questions like, “How do I discover what God is doing in my neighbourhood?” “How do I make connections during COVID-19?” “What does being a good neighbour mean?” “Does geography even matter nowadays?”) is what Go Local is all about.
We’d love to have your church form a team and join a two year Go Local journey with us. But we’d also love to have individual leaders, lay people, pastors, and young adults come and see what Go Local and “Go Local thinking is all about. This January, we’d like to invite you to join us for an hour and a half “Taste and See” webinar to do just that—to learn a little bit more about a different approach to framing mission in your context, and to imagine how you and your church might join God in the neighbourhood.
Dates and times are still TBD based on interest and availability. If you’d like to hear more on these informative, compelling, and fun online seminars let us know. You can also schedule a “Taste And See” for your congregation, leadership, or small groups. Comment below or email Resonate Western Canada’s Go Local rep Karen Wilk directly at [email protected].