Posted on June 1 2017
God of All Things
I think it’s rather a human trait to want to organise things into nice neat compartments. We often put our life into little boxes: home life, work life, church life. More broadly, we as Christians love to consider the sacred and the secular – but I’m reminded that our God is a God of ‘all things’ not ‘some things’.
This year, I’m delighted to be co-hosting the Movement Day 'Social Transformation' track. Through the track, I’ll be facilitating discussion on how to instigate partnership working to bring positive change to our villages, towns and cities.
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:20
God created all things, he sustains all things and he reconciles all things. There is no sacred and secular divide. In fact, the only thing that is secular, or without God, is sin! Furnished with this understanding, I believe we as Christians have a greater freedom and opportunity to see God work in different levels of society.
It’s such a cliché to say that we achieve more when we all work together, but it’s just so true! Cinnamon Network, the charity I run, is focused on helping churches to transform their communities by reaching out and building relationships with those who are most in need. One great example is City Angels
It’s 9pm on a Saturday night and a small team leave Revelation Church in Chichester armed with first-aid kits, flip flops and bottles of water. They might not look like the ultimate crime-fighters, but City Angels, a Cinnamon Recognised Project, has been working in partnership with Sussex Police and Chichester Business Against Crime Partnership since 2012 to make the city a safer place.
According to Sussex Police crime data, on a Saturday night when the Angels are on patrol, anti-social behaviour is reduced by 79%, violent crime by 50% and violent crime leading to injury by 82%. The results really do speak for themselves. ?
City Angels bring together trained volunteers from churches across the city and work closely with the police and local businesses. It is just one of many Cinnamon Recognised Projects operating across the country that enable local authorities and churches to work together to find creative and effective solutions to tackle some of our communities’ most pressing issues.
Speaking the Same Language
City Angels demonstrates partnership in action, but relationships can be hard to start – especially when it feels like you don’t actually speak the same language. Christians are great at telling stories, sharing anecdotes and the odd ‘in-house’ joke – but in the business world, leaders are talking facts, figures and evidence-based research.
Through the Social Transformation track, I want to explore ways to help the Church start conversations with businesses and civic authorities. One tool we have developed is the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit. I recently spoke at the launch of the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit Cambridge where results showed that faith–based organisations in the city ran 527 projects, created 4,762 volunteer roles and supported 89,658 community beneficiaries. The value of the time given to the community was worth £8.4million a year.
The civic leaders present were overwhelmed by the scale and reach of the work. In response to hearing the numbers, Gillian Beasley, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire County Council, said, “Churches are closer to communities than statutory agencies can ever be”. As a result of that audit, Cinnamon has entered into a partnership with both the council and the police in Cambridge to support more churches as they engage effectively with their communities.
Making it easy
Of course actually putting our faith into action is tough. It takes time to gain support within a church, let alone from the wider community. Through the Social Transformation track I want to explore ways to make it as easy as possible for churches to build transforming relationships that make a long-term difference.
At Cinnamon, we’ve seen the importance of not only providing great Cinnamon Recognised Projects, but of providing great tailored support. Our Cinnamon Advisors are on hand to pull up a chair and work alongside church leaders. Advisors help churches to get to grips with the need in their area, select the right Cinnamon Recognised Project, build capacity within the church and build strong, effective relationships with local authorities, businesses and wider networks.
I believe that when we change our perspective and see our God as a God of ‘all things’ then we broaden our view of what He can do and how He can work through us in new and wonderful ways. I’m excited to hear fresh ideas, experiences and opinions at Movement Day 2017.
Why not join the conversation and add your comments below.