Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again dwell in Jerusalem and sit out in the streets, every man with his staff in his hand for very [advanced] age.
This week I attended the best thing I have been to in ages. It is called The Cinnamon Network. It's funny that I went the same week I am preaching on the rich young ruler and so giving stuff away is front and centre for me.
My prayer for this post is things will happen because of it and you might do something or start something or impact a life because of it. I pray one of the projects you come across through reading this post you might actually start yourself or indeed you might initiate a project of your own that will one day end up on the Cinnamon website. I truly hope so.
The Cinnamon Network was founded by Matt Bird who really really loves Jesus and seems to be a simply splendid fellow. He told the story of the 'kairos moment' he had a few years ago when he realised he had read so many books and listened to so many talks and been to so many conferences that he felt spiritually like he does on Christmas day at 3pm. Absolutely stuffed. It was time to get active and start actually doing some of the stuff he'd spent years writing in a sermon notebook.
As we start though, permit me to recommend a couple of books if you still need convincing that the church should be loving the communities they are part of and ministering to the poor.
1. Loving mercy
2. Generous Justice
These two books told me that a church without a commitment to mercy ministry is not the church Jesus longs for. Second thing that struck me. There were very few from my tribe (Charismatic Anglican Evangelical) at this gathering. In fact, there were v few from the C of E. It was mainly Baptists, Pentecostals, Free Church and a smattering of congregationalists.
Here are some stats for you (shared by Matt at the end of our day that I scribbled down):
- 20K offenders leave prison every year with only £42 in their pockets. Half will reoffend in two years
- 5m elderly say the TV is their primary companion
- 1/2m people spent Christmas alone
- 400k kids are excluded from school per year
- 9k kids are waiting for a foster home or to be adopted
- Birmingham council (UK's largest) over the next 3 years have a shortfall in funding of £625m. Merton (among the smallest) has a shortfall of £40m.
The questions Matt posed to those assembled was this:
Shouldn't the church be doing something about this stuff?
He went on to show us a number of what he called 'franchise' local church initiatives impacting their communities that you can run off the shelf in your church if the same need exists in your community. You could do worse than go down the list of all 31 (as I intend to over the next few weeks) and if one resonates with you and a few others and a need you see in your community then go to your pastor/ Vicar and explore if it might be right to start it. Then see what happens.
These are a few:
I love this one called 'Lunch'. So simple. So easy to do. So loving. Meeting obvious need.
I love 'Mega fitness'
Currently the best known of these is - 'Food bank'
Next time I attend on 27th November I hope to see a few of you there. Also a few in our church are going to go to this day on furniture recycling (they don't know it yet) because they have been trying to get this up and running for ages for a charity we are involved with.
It's simply the best and most inspiring day I've had in ages so why not skip one of the teaching days on 1 and 2 Timothy or Healing Conferences (both of which I'm fans of) your booked in for and get yourself to this.