One thing we’ve recognized as a church is that as God calls us to serve our community and city, we don’t have to do it alone. There are often friends and allies in our community that have already been doing much of the work that we ourselves are trying to begin!
Party In The Park is one such event. It first started out as a church-sponsored event for the entire community that had mixed results. Last year, after forming a relationship with Steps To Success, we restarted PITP as a “back-to-school” celebration for kids grades 4-8 who live in Brookline Housing. It is the beginning of what we desire to see in our community… to show love and generosity that Christ Himself has shown with us.
More than that, we recognize too that wealth and possessions are often what creates divisions in our culture! To hold lightly to stuff... and instead to use stuff to bring forth relationship….this is the way of the gospel.
In Mark 10:17-27, A rich young ruler asks Jesus how he can find true life. Jesus, in his love for the man, asks him to give away his possessions. Why? Because if this life is but a spec and your heart and love for God and others is the most important thing to concern yourself with, possessions often just get in the way.
If we are just a group of religious folk who are generally trying to be nicer and attend Sunday worship gatherings and participate in smaller group meetings, the world can find that elsewhere. However, if what Christ has done for us begins to break down the demographic barriers of our society, then we will begin to see the Kingdom of God move forth, and see people turn to Christ! City On A Hill will begin to reflect the glory of God in a new way as the face and posture of our church changes.
Party In The Park is part of a much larger vision: to see our neighborhood blessed, yes, but also to become a church that the world cannot make sense of. Our society makes subtle divisions and shows favoritism based on education level, class, race, political beliefs, hobbies, and other such preferences. We are a church growing in diversity in many of these dimensions, yes, but we recognize that we have a disproportionate amount of those who are wealthy and educated, even when compared to the population of Brookline! This is a blessing in one way, but we are also missing out on all of the blind spots that this brings to our church.
We are doing this event as a part of recognizing that if the message of the gospel is for all people, then we must begin to welcome and reach out to those who are not here in our midst. We must press out, forging relationships that could not be formed except by the grace and power of God alone, so that the world would know we are His by the way we love. My prayer is that we would begin to plead with the Lord, and be willing to do what it takes to know and live out His love, even if it means selling everything to follow Him.
Let me challenge you to be enthusiastically involved with your Community Groups as a part of Party In The Park, and to continually ask God how He can use you in our efforts to be a community that reflects His glory!