For most of us, it scares us half to death to think of getting personal and honest about faith with the people we’re closest to. If we’re honest though, it’s not just the people we’re closest to. When we’re really willing to take a hard look at all the relationships we have in our lives, it quickly becomes clear where and with whom we are less vocal about faith. It typically comes down to people that you see on a rotating basis. If you know you have to maintain a positive interaction with someone on a semi-frequent basis, you’ll more often than not choose to avoid topics that have a high likelihood of straining the comfort in that relationship. With a stranger, you don’t have much to risk. That’s why if you’ve ever been on a cross-cultural outreach trip outside of your hometown, it’s likely you’ve been open about Jesus and faith in a way that you’ve probably seldom been in your hometown.
It’s easy to justify waiting to bring Jesus and faith into the picture. Truth be told, most justifications are actually really good reasons: “We’re still building a friendship,” “I’m praying for God to show me the right timing,” “I want them to know I don’t view them as a project to fix,” “God’s love is more clearly communicated through my actions versus my words in this instance.” Most often these are great reasons to use as a lens for evaluating how and when we talk about faith. But the danger here is that too often we stay in this evaluation mode. We keep justifying reasons to not be up front about faith. Often, friendships or acquaintances last a whole cycle and come to a close without that person ever even knowing that you follow Jesus. In an attempt to be relatable, we’ve become inauthentic. How can we change this? How can we pursue Jesus in a public way that is attractive to others without compromising the authenticity of our faith? If you’re not sure about this whole Jesus thing or you don’t follow Jesus, how can you also take a step toward wrestling through faith and life purpose questions with those you love and trust? How can we all begin to see the church engage our hometowns with real purpose and meaning?
Change always starts with a step. The hardest place to take that step is most often your hometown. If you’re already volunteering with a nonprofit or faith based cause that’s helping you to authentically share the hope of Jesus to others, keep at it! If you’re already leaning into a difficult ongoing conversation with someone you love, keep it up! Wherever you find yourself, we’ve got a next step for you. Jesus calls us to seek the peace and prosperity of our hometowns. This means leaning into broken systems, getting your hands dirty, sacrificing time, and engaging people you don’t typically want to engage.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” -Jeremiah 29:11
Every Spring we link arms with other churches in our area to love our city by volunteering with various projects that better our school systems, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods. It’s a way for us to communicate that churches are for our hometowns. We’re for our neighbors. We’re not for them simply so we can share about Jesus and then leave. We want to be known for authentically seeking total transformation and restoration of all people and of our hometowns. We’ve named this initiative RestoreHB. We love to volunteer with other churches to make this impact because it’s a unifying effort to communicate God’s love for all people in our city. Check out RestoreHB’s impact and consider joining us for a volunteer project this year.
Ask God to show you how you can use your time, resources, and abilities to bring total transformation and restoration to your hometown. Hopefully, someone will ask you why you’re spending time and energy just to pick up trash or help paint a schoolyard. Maybe, someone you love and care about will ask you why you’re spending so much time volunteering in the city of Huntington Beach.