Real Love: Where is it? This was our theme for Creek Road’s 'Community Connect' week, held in the June-July school holidays. Community Connect is our annual opportunity for the whole church at Creek Road to help the community connect with Jesus. It started on Monday 2nd July & climaxed in our 10:30am church service on Sunday 8th July.
Creek Road had a rich heritage of connecting with our community each winter holidays, but Community Connect 2012 was our first major opportunity to explore the full potential of integrating all the ministries of what we call our ‘Vertical & Horizontal Pathways’: Kids, Youth, Young Adults (Vertical Pathway) & Connect, Grow, Serve (Horizontal Pathway). But we also added that critical component—everyone in the church!
Early in the year we’d asked everyone to clear their calendar, pray for the people they’d invite, and talk to their Growth Group or Ministry Team Leader about how they can serve our community by connecting them to God through Jesus.
We’re shameless about the purpose of Community Connect: to get outsiders to take their first step through our doors during the week - so they might step through our doors on Sunday. Everything we do during the week points to church on Sunday. Everyone who comes in during the week is invited to church on Sunday. It’s all about getting people in the doors on Sunday – so they can discover REAL love.
Our world says a lot about love. Our neighbours know a lot about love. People in our community have all sorts of ideas about love. But what is love? REAL love? And where can real love really be found? At Community Connect we were showing people the real love seen in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13.
To do this, we ran a series of events and programs catering to real needs in our community. This year we asked all Growth Groups & all Ministry Teams to serve in Community Connect by praying, leading, cleaning, catering, serving coffee, setting up & taking down the auditorium, helping with seminars, childminding for parents, greeting, singing, playing music, ushering, chatting with outsiders & especially in inviting people from our community to Community Connect.
There are 3 main parts to Community Connect: ‘Adults Connect’ through our on-site seminars; ‘Kids and Youth Connect’ through our holiday programs; and ‘Coffee Connect’, held under our front portico, which provided a public place for everyone to connect over good coffee, good books and live music.
Adults Connect seminars included: Peter and Kylie Evans on Building Healthy Marriages, Dr Patricia Weerakoon on Making Love, Peter Janetzki on Raising Girls, Chris Pine on Parenting the Digital Generation, Glenn Hohnberg on Leadership that makes a Difference, Carolyn Russell on Loneliness and Relationships and Joe Wee on the question of Speed Dating as a shortcut to true love – these are just a sample of what was on offer.
Kids and Youth Connect included a daily program for primary age kids, called ‘The Quest for the Mighty Night’ and a Youth MegaSportz Day on the Saturday. Each day the kids learnt part of the Bible passage, so by Sunday morning everyone involved could recite 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
All three parts to Community Connect were pathways into church on Sunday. And at church, we were asking where this REAL love could be found. We could see a great description of real love in 1 Corinthians 13.... but who’d seen such love in a real person? The answer given at church was, of course, Jesus:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16a)
Everyone who came heard about God’s great love for us in Jesus, who died for our sin and rose again to give us new life. We invited everyone to keep coming to church to hear more about this Jesus.
Here are some more pictures from the week...