Sunday, December 30, 2007

planting community contact

So I am walking home last week. It’s about 6:30 pm, a clear, pleasant summer evening. I see a woman struggling to offload an item from a trailer. Offering a hand, we carry the item into her garage.

Her: Thankyou so much for your help.

Me: No worries. We moved house last week ourselves, so I know what’s its like moving stuff.

Her: Did you move somewhere close?

Me: Across the river. About 10 minutes walk. (She’s looking confused as to why I am walking this way if I live 10 minutes walk away so I explain). I’m the pastor of Opawa Baptist, so I this is my first go at walking home from work to my new house.

Her: Opawa Baptist. Are you the church that gave out plants recently.

Me: Yes. [Context for blog readers. When I arrived at Opawa 4 years ago, I suggested an annual Spring Clean as a way of our church community engaging with our local community. One day when we as a church offer a variety of ways to serve – around our church buildings, clearing rubbish from our streets, cleaning up local homes. Over 4 years the idea has morphed and grown, including gaining local government funding to offer a community barbeque lunch, and this year, seedling vegetable plants given out to homes in the community].

Her: That was so kind. I gave mine to a friend who was just moving into a new house. It was so appreciated.

I wander off, sort of gob smacked, pondering the fact that the church I pastor is now known in the neighbourhood as the “church that gives out vegetable plants.” What sort of God are we portraying? What are we needing to learn as seek to partner this God at work in our community?

Posted by steve at 08:51 PM


  1. Just for clarification, was your reaction, “Wow, isn’t it great that we’re known as the church that gives out vegetable plants” or was it “Hmm, is anyone else here concerned that our neighbors know us as the church that hands out vegetable plants?”

    Comment by J. Michael Matkin — December 30, 2007 @ 11:29 pm

  2. I dunno, kind and generous seems like a good place to start — better than the stereotypical harsh and judgmental.

    Comment by Maria — December 31, 2007 @ 2:59 am

  3. Michael,

    i was simply trying to process a gift: here was I, as pastor, given an insight into how one person in our community views our church. to me, both of your alternatives, presume some sort of pre-judgement about what is church and what is mission. am I right?


    Comment by steve — December 31, 2007 @ 9:01 am

  4. Steve, I think it is a great gesture (giving away plants etc). Your church has some great ways of blessing your community. I thin re. God its says that there is a God who cares about you and creation – enjoy them both!!!

    Comment by mark — December 31, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

  5. There is a reason for everything under the sun. The “nay sayers”— for those that can’t see the beauty in a flower miss the beauty in a tear, a rain drop a blooming flower as well. I always hope they will see.

    Keep up the good work for one never knows who’s heart is touched even in a simple act as giving a flower. I find it beautiful and inspiring.


    Comment by Kim — January 1, 2008 @ 10:23 am

  6. Hi Steve,

    I wasn’t trying to assign a meaning to your experience, only trying to explore how you were hearing it. Did it create joy or anxiety, both, neither? I wasn’t sure from your description of your feelings just how you were taking it, which is why I was asking you to unpack your reaction a bit more.

    As far as the alternatives being a prejudgment about the nature and mission of the church, I’m not really sure what to say. I did have some thoughts of my own as I reflected on your experience, but those I started to work up in a post for my own blog. Here, all I was trying to do was to ask you, against the backdrop of your own prejudgments about the church and its mission, was this an encounter that brought you encouragement or pause (or both, or neither, or something completely different)?

    Comment by J. Michael Matkin — January 2, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

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