When we moved to the North Coast of Northern Ireland and planted the Causeway Coast Vineyard Church back in May 1999, we had no idea what it would look like. The only thing we knew for certain was we wanted to reach those who had slipped through the "church net"; those who thought Jesus and religion were two sides of the same coin and had no idea that relationship with Him was even a possibility.
Over these last 15 years, our church has become a community of outrageous generosity and expansive hope. But, as with anything, we are entrusted either to build from the beginning or steer in a new direction, after some time, which can only come with intentional direction. And as my husband wisely says, "Every vision brings collision," even when that vision is wide enough for the whole city to find its home.
When we turn ourselves outward on purpose, it means we have to let go of some really wonderful aspects of "church as we've known it"—the "insider language," the comfort of "everyone knowing everyone." But what we get in return is something spectacular. We get in on the Great Commission, and all of a sudden we find out what we were made for—not only as individuals but also as a community of faith.
If it doesn't lead us to lost people, and lost people to Jesus, we don't do it. After that, the model doesn't matter. The ideas we have, the models we choose only serve to help get the church "out there," and allow those outside the church "in."
When it comes to reaching the lost, we don't do evangelism. We serve our city. We show up relentlessly, week after week, to pray for the sick in our town out there on the streets.
We serve schools—not with our agenda, but in every way we can to help them provide a better education for all our children. We work with government agencies. We provide housing for those who've lost everything in the economic crisis. We show the love of Jesus in every corner, every sphere of influence, every level of society, every day. And we have done this for years.
Over those years (slowly at first, but gradually more and more), people have started to come to faith. They've been watching. They trust our voice. One by one ... they are starting to give their "yes" to Jesus too.
As I write, there's been something of an even greater shift. Since February 2014, almost 2,000 people have decided they want to live for Jesus as well (some in our church gatherings, but about 70 percent out on the streets)—and all that in a town of only 60,000. God is at work in the world. And we get to be a part of the great story He is writing over our communities and cities when we simply show up and determine that "out there" is where we are going to stay.
Best-known for penning the worship song "Hungry," Kathryn Scott is a worship leader and senior pastor at Causeway Coast Vineyard Church in Northern Ireland. Her brand-new EP, Sing on the Battlefield, is now available on iTunes. For more info, visit kathrynscott.org.
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