Churches working together provide a glimmer of hope
Bishop Mike Royal, Co Chief Executive of Cinnamon Network UK and part of CTE's Charismatic and Pentecostal Leaders Forum, shares our Reflection of the Month for March 2020...
A recent newspaper article in The Guardian, under the heading ‘Life Expectancy’, highlighted the fact that over the last decade austerity has caused life expectancy to stall in the UK for the first time in a century. During the same period, a third of children were living in poverty for three years running. The socio-economic picture painted here is depressing, and it’s difficult to find any glimmer of hope in what has transpired over the last decade.
But there is a glimmer of hope in the current malaise. Up and down the country, local churches who are rooted in local community have being coordinating a response to people in their communities who are falling through the cracks. The last decade has seen an unprecedented response from churches of different persuasions. Liberal churches, High orthodox churches; conservative evangelical churches and charismatic Pentecostal churches have all adopted best practice projects run by organisations specifically collaborating with local churches to make a difference. At Cinnamon Network UK we seek to encourage everyday local congregations to adopt these best practice projects.
Across the UK, Street Pastors teams have worked with local church networks to be a visible presence on the streets at night. Listening, helping and caring for the community. The great thing about the way they work is that they will only work in an area where churches are willing to work together. I had the privilege of leading the Birmingham Street Pastors team for five years. It was great to see how people from a variety of different backgrounds came together to patrol streets in the North Birmingham area.
In Shropshire, Telford Christians Together, a local Churches Together initiative, recently completed a Cinnamon Faith Action Audit in their community. The Faith Action Audit measured the activity churches and other faith organisations were undertaking in the town. A survey was undertaken and a report written which now forms the basis of conversations with statutory agencies as to what faith organisations are doing and what else they might do in that community.
These opportunities to collaborate not only break down barriers between local churches, but they also show the world that we are one church.
In John 17:20-23 Jesus prayed “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message… that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me so they may be brought to complete unity”.
When different churches work together in the community, our unity is a witness to people; not only that the church is a loving community, but that God loves the community. Jesus goes on to say that “then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them”!
There are so many issues where churches have different theological views. It’s great when we can journey together ecumenically, putting those issues aside to reach out to the last, the least and the lost. When we do that, we bring credibility to the message of the gospel.
Our words are demonstrated by action, and our actions are an opportunity to speak words of life. So let’s get out of our silos and extend an arm of friendship to other churches in our villages, towns and cities, as we commit to work together. Not just once a year during the Week of Christian Unity, but 24/7, 366 days of the year 2020, and beyond!
Bishop Mike Royal is the Co Chief Executive of Cinnamon Network UK, a charity supporting churches with their community engagement. He is also the former National Director & pioneer of Transforming Lives for Good (TLG), who work with children and young people at risk of exclusion from school. Mike is a Pentecostal Bishop based in Birmingham, and represents his denomination the Apostolic Pastoral Congress on CTE’s Charismatic and Pentecostal Leaders Forum.
Funding and support available for church-based homelessness and housing projects
Do you know of a church-based social action project…
doing work to prevent homelessness and support those with housing challenges, or
looking to provide affordable or supported accommodation for local people?
Then find out more about the Project Labs from Cinnamon Network and the Church of England, which is open for applications until 20th April at 5pm.
Together they’re seeking to help build the capacity of churches to support local people with housing needs and build community, including the provision of £30,000 development grants for the two competition winners.