Loving Our City
As my family and I dove into the ROCKHARBOR community five years ago, we were struck by a risky dependence on God. It was electrifying to rally around “giving ourselves away” and the wave of missional service as thousands stepped into the first “Go” campaign. The weekend we cancelled services for Serve Day was a time I’ll never forget; my kids actually washed windows in a trailer park!
Although our outreach efforts of late have not been quite as high-profile as things like The GO Campaign, our posture as a church has not changed. We are still a faith community marked by gutsy dependence, risky generosity, and radical service. One of the ways our church has continued to press into this posture is by creating the new volunteer position of “City Pastor”.
What is a City Pastor, you ask? It’s a journey in process, but the main idea behind it is to seek out, create, and participate in mission endeavors within the city, and to invite our church community into the action.
The big question City Pastors are asking is; if ROCKHARBOR were to end today – if we were to close our doors and shut down, would the cities of Costa Mesa, Laguna Hills, Fullerton, or Huntington Beach miss us? Sure, a couple thousand church goers might be disappointed, but would the city miss us? Would the public schools miss us? Would our civic leaders, immigrant families, homeless population, at-risk teens, or neighborhood children really miss us? This is a haunting question, and one we continue to wrestle with…
There are a few other local churches that have aslo felt a similar call. And we began talks about what it would look like to be involved more in our cities. Two weeks after I officially started as Costa Mesa City Pastor we were called into action.
As many of you know, a Costa Mesa city worker committed suicide after learning he was going to be one of hundreds to be laid off. We responded with a network of churches for crisis care, a city-wide prayer gathering encircling City Hall, and a memorial service followed by a hospitality area for prayer, refreshments, and a listening ear…all on city grounds. Something started that day, and the ripples of it are still being felt at the civic level in many ways as the relationships built continue to grow.
A month later, another tragedy struck; a student at Costa Mesa High took his own life. He was a well-liked sophomore on the volleyball team. As the school community reeled in shock, we had another invitation to respond with many pastors on site for prayer and counseling, and I was able to sit down for an hour with his team as a mentor, chaplain, and friend – quite a change from when, just a few weeks ago, I was told no pastors would ever be allowed on campus.
In the midst of pain and brokenness, God is moving in this city.
As a church, we now have invitations from this school and several others, the city council, and MIKA Community Development to invest in relationships like never before. Beyond a summer service project or a single mission trip, this is our chance to begin making a sustainable, deep, long-term impact in Costa Mesa. There is a dynamic balance in giving and receiving, of caring and being held, of comfort and risk, and I believe God is calling us once again toward a season of daring adventure.
If you live in Costa Mesa, we invite you to love our city with reaching arms, quickened feet, and open hearts. Let’s love the people around us in such a way that God’s grace is compelling and the Gospel is heard loud and clear. As Jesus followers, this is what we do.
reblogged from http://www.rockharbor.org/2011/05/city-pastor/