The Growing Good Toolkit helps churches reflect on five characteristics that are shared by churches that are growing new connections and making a difference: presence, perseverance, hospitality, adaptability, and participation. Lauren Simpson is training for ordination and a staff member at Trinity Church, Nottingham shares her experience of the difference that being present for others can make to them and us.
After months of praying, planning, and training we were finally ready to open the doors to our church’s new coffee and chat afternoon. The volunteers and I gathered to pray, equally excited and scared about who we were going to meet and what God was going to do. We opened the doors, waited for two hours, and nobody came. Not a single person. “That’s okay,” I told myself, “Next week someone will probably come!” A week later we gathered again, prayed and opened the doors. No-one came. But we persevered, and after a few weeks one person came in. The next week two. Then three. A year later, we have between 80 and 90 people walking through the doors each week for a warm space to sit and chat, eat hot food, and play a very competitive game of Scrabble.
What have I learned since we first opened those doors? I have learned the power of presence. In a time when businesses are closing and charities are losing funding, we are able to be present with people when no-one else can. I have learned to be present with people as they navigate the highs and lows of life. I have learned to put aside my to-do list and talk to someone over a cup of tea I have learned to be present with God as He shows his love in simple and unremarkable ways.
When everything else is changing, we as the church are able to be a constant presence in the community. We don’t require anything in return because we know the One who calls us His. We know the constant presence of God, and have the privilege to be present with others. How can you make space to be present with people in your community as God is present with you?
Get your free Growing Good Toolkit: growing-good.org.uk/KeepTheFaith