"If we want to develop meaningful connection with people we must be willing to go where they are. This is something deeper than the practicality of good marketing. While in our building during our programs we have authority and power to set the terms of engagement- in other words, the ‘rules’. It would not be honest to pretend otherwise. Whether we acknowledge it or not we have power in that situation and that power shapes our relationship with the people who come. It is vital that we are willing to reciprocate- to make regular contact with our street community on their ‘turf’ or home, in the places where they have the power, authority and credibility. We become the ‘guests’ in their care and acknowledge their elevated status in that context. Like the Jesus we seek to follow, we must be willing to recognize that whatever power we have been given is not ours to cling to. We must seek to find ways to give that power away."
"One way we seek to consciously practice this is to make regular time to be on the street, in the neighbourhood, connecting with our friends and deepening our relationships with them."
The above is from the folks at Parkdale Neighborhood Church in Toronto's west end. The needs of the neighbourhood were daunting; increasing poverty, substance abuse, crime, the proximity of the then “Queen Street Mental Health Centre” (now CAMH) and issues related to mental health, political abandonment and social neglect, the waves of refugees and immigrants who either felt trapped or viewed the neighbourhood as a temporary stop before moving on to a better community. It's easy in a neighborhood like this to assume a role of " power "...we have all the answers, come to us and let us " fix" Put to move into the neighborhood and through anything that looks like power away, to be willing to listen, to learn...to become a neighbor in the context of the neighborhood...is humbly profound. It's in this profound mysterious sacrifice where life is found...we really discover the abundant life Jesus spoke, and lived out.You can't learn this in a forty-five minute sermon...it is found by following Jesus into these broken spaces that are all around us. Every week, every Sunday with CARTS...and through out the week when I bump into our neighbors in the inner city I'm reminded of this wisdom.
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