Theology of Place: Love our City

Lately, with the guidance of David Collins, we’ve been encouraged to participate in our neighbourhood and invest in those around us.

But what does that look like in our everyday lives? Oftentimes we’re told to engage more. We’re told to love our neighbours. We often hear sermons and lectures that give a strong case for why we need to spend time participating in the lives of those around us. We read about methods of engagement in books and articles. These are all great things and set up a great theological background for why we, as Christians, are called to serve and love those around us who aren’t in our immediate Christian circles. They also set strong foundations for our approach to community. One example is how we as a church navigate areas of dysfunction by inviting Jesus into those areas, work towards healthy relationships together, and how we celebrate the areas where we function well.

But how exactly do we step out of our own Christian circles into our local neighbourhood?

Why is this important? What are practical steps we can take to start this journey? Or for those who have been living outwardly for years, how can we equip those of us who are in different stages of this journey?

We wanted to start a blog series to tackle some of these questions and which better way to do it than to hear through the stories from the people in our own Redemption community? 

This blog series will introduce you to people in Redemption who will share their experiences living in Vancouver, and how they approach living outwardly in their community. We want to explore many of the different ways we serve the city, in each of our lives in our calling in our own capacities. 

These are your everyday people who attend Redemption Church. You’ll get to know them through this blog, and because they attend Redemption, you’ll have an opportunity to approach them, talk to them, and ask more questions if something about their story stands out to you. Hopefully, this will lead to more conversation and influence others within our own church to live outwardly towards our neighbours. 

What we are going to be doing these upcoming weeks is a series of blog posts and interviews on how different people around our church live out their faith and engage in their neighbourhoods. This means families, singles, young people, older people, students, people here for a long time, people here temporarily, and everything in-between. 

This is important because we wanted to engage you in this conversation.

We want you to see real living examples of living out our faith among the city. We want to help you get to know each other better. We want to give you ideas and create openings to talk to each other about this. We want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and meet your neighbours. The people sharing these stories will share practical and applicable steps in doing so. And when someone we know has taken that first step, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

For me, the first step was a change in perspective and a lot of God’s miraculous planning and grace. I grew up moving around as a child. I was also very shy, so each move sent me crawling deeper into my shell. I started developing this pessimistic mentality where I would put less effort into making friends because I figured I would move again before developing any meaningful friendships. By my last school transfer and final high school before I graduated, I had completely stopped trying and to no surprise the friends I made there didn’t last. When I got to UBC, my perspective shifted because I decided I would come to UBC, make lasting friendships, and then stay in Vancouver forever once I graduated and be done moving for the rest of my life. I became open to making friends, and by God’s grace, I made great friends and found a great community at UBC. Of course, my time at UBC ended, and I found out that staying in one place doesn’t mean the people do (most of my friends have since left Vancouver). The thing is, once I’ve became open to making friends, it became a lot easier for me to make new friends and meet new people. I’ve also since realized that it’s possible to make meaningful friendships in a limited time if you invest in them (thanks to the internet, you can also keep in touch!). All it took was the initial step in making the deliberate decision to be open to others.

If you’ve got a story to share, we’d love to hear it.

It doesn’t need to be a grand story. Even engaging with one person can make the difference in them and you. Everyone engages in their community differently, no matter how large or small. Even small things like saying ‘thank you’ to your bus driver can make a difference in their day. Don’t have much time? We can do an interview. Don’t think you have the writing skills? It’s your chance to take a stab at writing something! Talk to me! (Sarah). We’d love to hear your stories. 

Sarah Chen

Sarah is the person that lives in the Redemption office (just kidding!). Her office door is closed most of the time but it's only to trap all the heat inside. Actually she'd really love to meet all of you at Redemption, so please do come in and say 'hi!' Things she loves doing are reading books, cafe-hopping, and eating asian food. You are more than welcome to join her on any of these escapades. She also has an irrational love for cats, so if you have a cat, please contact her asap.