I heard someone speaking recently of how their church was full of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It reminded me of a book written by a friend of mine - Ordinary Mum, Extraordinary Mission. I really get the phrase, and what it’s supposed to evoke - but I found myself mulling it over.
It occurred to me, that I usually think of it the other way round here at St John’s.
I think we’re a church doing ordinary stuff, but full of extraordinary people.
There’s very little that’s innovative about what we do here - we believe that at the heart of our mission is the simple fourfold call to Worship God | Make Disciples | Share Jesus | Transform Hoxton.
How this plays out in practise is simple: Sunday services, Connect Groups, Youth Groups, Children’s Ministry, compassionate ministries such as Hackney Foodbank, Hackney Winter Night Shelter. We have a group of people who pray regularly, we have a little pastoral care team who go visiting, we have people who collect frail and elderly members and get them safely to church. And probably a load of other stuff that I can’t think of right now.
We are a bog-standard comprehensive parish church!
But the thing that gets me excited is the extraordinary people who do all this stuff!!
I wish I could communicate something of who they all are, and some of their stories - but I couldn’t possibly do it justice, and I don’t have the time.
But take my word for it, we have some of the most generous, compassionate, kindest, most loving and fun people I’ve ever had the privilege to count as my friends here at the church.
One small example: we wanted to run a parenting course to support couples and single parents in raising their children. But we know how difficult it is for parents to get out in the evening - especially single mums and families on low income - paying babysitters just wasn’t an option. But one of our Connect Groups decided they’d like to offer free babysitting to anyone who wanted to come!! So last night, we had 7 guests gather at the vicarage for the parenting course, while 4 volunteers went out to babysit - what an extraordinary way to bless parents!
I’ve thought for a long time that a key to fruitful mission and ministry was to do less, and do it better - or simply, to do an old thing well… (Have you ever noticed that speaker biogs at Christian conferences always obsess about what ‘innovative’, ‘experimental’, ‘groundbreaking’ or ‘new’ things the speaker is doing?? I’ve always thought I’d like it said of me that I did an old thing well!)
Anyway, I’ve come to realise that it’s not so much what you do - but who is doing it!
We’re part of an ordinary mission here in Hoxton - but we have the most extraordinary people doing it!