It’s Wednesday morning and I’m up early to travel to Lincoln for the very first time to meet with a stranger. As I travel, I ponder on how good God is, that he should arrange such an amazing opportunity.
No, it’s not a new romance. Neither is it a new job.
I’m going to meet with a leader of a church to find out what God is doing in the town, and to see if there’s some small way I can help local churches transform lives in the local community.
That journey actually began in 2014, when I learned of an organisation called ‘Cinnamon Network.’At the time, they were about to undertake something called ‘Faith Action Audits’, an ambitious initiative to explore the impact of faith-based organisations across the country.
I wanted to be involved. I volunteered to do an audit for the whole of Northamptonshire! A little ambitious perhaps, but I knew this was what God would have me do.
There was a lot of work to be done. 350 churches and faith groups to contact and survey. Our small team were not put off; they were equally excited by what God might do.
In June 2015, we assembled in Kings Park, Moulton along with more than 100 church leaders, council members and senior police officers to hear that each year people of faith in Northamptonshire contribute £15m worth of support to those most in need. Even for those of us who already knew of the important difference faith groups make, that sum was incredible. As a result, several local councils signed a ‘Faith Covenant’ – a commitment to work with churches and faiths groups to transform local communities. God really is very good.
Greater Lincoln Active Faith Network
By that time, I’d already been invited to become the East Midlands church advisor for Cinnamon Network. I was regularly travelling to towns and cities across the region to learn about the work of local churches. It was my job to listen and to see if I could help them on their journey to transform their local community. What a privilege!
One early Saturday morning, shortly following the results presentation of the Lincoln audit, 35 church leaders gathered together in a quiet church hall to discuss just how they might work together with the council. God was giving the church a seat at the king’s table. I’d been invited to come along and help advise. It was out of this meeting that plans were put in place for the creation of Greater Lincoln Active Faith Network.
Zoom forward to November 2017, I’m back in my car heading to Lincoln for a meeting to commission six subgroups of the Greater Lincoln Active Faith Network. These groups would be made up of people from local churches, each focusing on a separate area of need in the city.
I arrived to a packed church full of people. There was a real sense that this was a moment of significance. Churches were about to embark on a new journey together in unity, aligned in purpose, eagerly anticipating what God would do in their city.
Lincoln City Council presented their vision for the next few years. The people assembled, organised themselves into subgroups and began to map out what they knew was already going on with – Health & Wellbeing, Debt & Unemployment, Food Poverty, Social Isolation, Homelessness and Children & Young People. Wow! The talking was over and it was time for action!
As I sit here writing this, I’m so thankful for all that God has done. Churches are working with local police, the council, doctors, hospitals, prisons, social services and so many other organisations. The word is out, and so are His people. Out in world showing that there is a God who cares, who saves, who loves. And this is only the beginning. God has so much more in store yet.