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Theological Thursdays: Ideas for the Common Good

This week is my first ever “guest post” at Theological Thursdays.  As mentioned in the comments last week, I am happy to share this space with other leaders of local faith groups.

Today’s poster is a new addition to Buffalo.  Jeremy Hazelton is the Lead & Teaching Pastor for Village Church, a new
community of Faith in the Elmwood Village. Village Church will begin hosting weekly worship gatherings this fall.  They are online at www.villagechurchbflo.com.  Look here for a profile when the church “launches” this fall.

From Jeremy:

“And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile.

Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

As the pastor of a new church I get asked all sorts of questions, from all sorts of people, but the main theme that runs under all of those questions is about expectations. What do I expect the new church will accomplish? What type of people do I expect to attract to our church? How do I expect the neighborhood to react to a new church?

Expectations… and predictions of expectations.

I understand the questions, and have done my best to answer them, yet I think the heart of the matter is this: I would like to leave the world a little better than I found it.

One of the core values that we employ at Village Church challenges our members to seek the “peace and prosperity” of the community in which they live and work. In many circumstances the church is seen as separate from the community in which it is placed, sort of a destination. My understanding of the church is very different, it is not separate from the community but within it. More specifically, the people of the church live in and work in the community and are inextricably a part of it. The church is bigger than buildings, and denominations, and worship services. The church is even bigger than one local congregation, the bible makes it clear that there is one church. (this is fodder for another post)

If the people of the church are members of the community, then logic dictates that when the community prospers, so does the church. This is the principle of the reference above (Jeremiah 29:7). From a faith perspective Christians should work for the benefit of the city in which they live, for the common good. It is a Christian value to have good schools, and clean streets, and social services, and artistic expression, and community gatherings, and thriving local business, and anything else that benefits the city.

It is always tricky when faith based organizations partner with community based organizations, but it doesn’t have to be. Look for opportunity to see overlap in mission. The mission of the Christian, and the mission of those working for the common good of the city. Let’s expect great things for the city, and perhaps working together we can realize a dream where we leave this place a little better than we found it.

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