I Can And I Will
Today (Friday 18th October) is a bit of a sad day in that we are closing the doors of Refresh Café – at least for a while. Refresh first started back in 2008 and over the years we have had many wonderful people serving the people of Crown Wood, first based out of the Primary School and then the Community Centre.
We have had wonderful times and really tough times, as we have laughed, cried, prayed, celebrated, mourned and served God together, forming lasting friendships with each other and with many of the people who have passed through our doors, seeking coffee and comfort of one kind or another.
I’ve worked on the staff team at EBC since 2010, including a stint as manager of Refresh, and I must be honest in saying that easily the most demanding season I’ve had (so far!) was around some of the challenges we had at Refresh a few years ago. I’m conscious that some of us who have served there over the years have “skin in the game”, so to speak, and it hurts to see Refresh close.
The café has been a very big part of our outreach as a church and from that perspective too, closing is difficult for us. We want to be a church that, like Jesus himself, goes out to people rather than sitting waiting for people to come to us. That’s one of the reasons we’ve tried so hard at Refresh for so long.
However, I think God is speaking to us in all of this. Without people to step forward with new leadership and new vision for Refresh, it will stay closed. My belief is that God is asking us, challenging us, daring us not to quit but to multiply our expressions of outreach. A strategic retreat from Refresh, perhaps, but one that allows us to advance in other directions.
As EBC’s leader, I want to set the challenge squarely in front of you – what will those advances look like? What can you do? What will you do?
It’s easy to have ideas – much harder to see them through into action. So my challenge is for all of us to think not in terms of “You could… you should…” but instead to think in terms of “I can…. I will….”
Years ago, we had an 18-month period in which our Storehouse ministry ceased. Today, it is bursting with activity! Who knows but the same thing might not happen with Refresh?
Please be open to fresh ideas, fresh vision from God about what you – yes, even you! – might do to reach out to people on their turf and their terms, so that friendships might form, invitations might be given and lives might be changed as people come to know God.
God can do anything. He can – and did – inspire me with a vision for a rebooted version of Storehouse, complete with a liveried van and the very words of scripture that he used to inspire the vision emblazoned on the side.
What might you do? What can you do? What will you do? Please be open to ideas – be open to God’s will, that he might use you to spread some love, some knowledge of Jesus, in our local community. If you want to talk ideas through, that’s great. Start with a friend or two, or maybe your Life Group. Or come and see me, Steph, Phil or any of the Leadership Team.
Also, pray about this. Please. I can – just, and with pain – stomach the idea of Refresh closing. But I can’t stomach the idea that we just sit back and wait for people instead of reaching out to them. We have said we want to be a church that reaches people and makes disciples. Let’s get to reaching, folks. To whom will you show love? Who might you target for helping, mentoring, inviting and discipling? How will you go about it? What help do you need?
There is a time to take a break, for sure – and I think that time for a break has come at Refresh. But let’s keep sending the prayers up and seeking God’s call, because sooner or later, God will ring the bell, break-time will be over and we’ll be reaching out to people in a multiplicity of ways and in a host of locations. Are you listening for the bell? What will your part be?
It’s easy to shout from the side-lines – much harder to perform on the pitch. So, in the words of the great Delia Smith, “Let’s be having you!”.
Never mind what you can’t do, or what you think others could or should do… no, no. Let’s be having you – let’s hear “I can and I will” as we all reach out, in ways and in places where we can make a difference to people’s lives and, perhaps, their eternity.
By the way, this isn’t going away. It’s too important. So I intend to keep encouraging you to take this seriously and find your role as you listen for God’s call. Oh, and if you’re wondering if I’m intending to lead by example and do so too…?
I can and I will.
See you on Sunday!