Small Town Jesus in the Big City

Kloof St

I’m about to move my office out of a suburb of Cape Town into the city centre. It’s an exciting time. We’re launching a congregation of Jubilee Community Church in the heart of Cape Town and we’re ready to go!

There has been, in recent years, a much-needed focus on cities. Christians have been moving steadily away from the city centres and into the suburbs, often leaving the city without a strong witness.

Yet, we’re told, that the creative culture-making heartbeat (the heart that sends its influence to the rest of our culture) is right back in the place the believers left. If we reach the cities (so the argument goes) there will be a ‘trickle down’ effect that will effect the rest of society.

Donnie Griggs, Lead Pastor at One Harbor Church, Morehead City, NC
Donnie Griggs, Lead Pastor at One Harbor Church, Morehead City, NC

Small Town Jesus by Donnie Griggs is a robust response. Griggs, who pastors a large church in Morehead City, North Carolina (a town of about nine thousand) raises a banner for the myriad of small towns that may, therefore, seem less significant.

While not denying the importance of cities, he makes a plea for the importance of mission to smaller towns. He speaks from his own experience of being known and getting to know the folk in Morehead, while seeking to build a church that cares for its community and is engaged in a wider mission.

Now, why would I spend time reading a book devoted to mission in small towns when I am about to relocate my work space into the heart of the world’s most beautiful city (I could easily support that assertion with sources, but it’s just a fact).

And – I’ll go further – why am I recommending this book to you, whatever size town you’re in, but especially if you live in a city?

Cape Town City Hall
Cape Town City Hall

Being a Good Local
Simply for this reason: that I have realised, both as I’ve been traveling into the city regularly over the last year, and as I’ve read Donnie’s book, that, in my section of the city centre, I need to become a local.

That’s not something we tend to think of in our cities. We have the dubious luxury of being anonymous much of the time. We expect speed. We expect quality. If something’s not good we complain. And we complain properly. We’ll put a bad review online. We’re helping raise standards by complaining. Griggs has a technical term for this that’s worth remembering. It is called ‘being a jerk’. Hmm. Maybe it’s time to change.

Here are a few pointers Griggs gives for being a good local in a small town. I want to encourage you to take these on board in your locality especially if you’re in the city centre. And feel free to add your own thoughts and comments below. Let’s learn from each other.

Your reputation matters in a small town
Things are really close in a village or town. Yet, in the city, you can also develop a different kind of reputation by deliberately seeking to serve those around your work space. Be different from those who rush by. Do good in the city. Be honest. Build a good reputation by being consistently compassionate.

Learn to Enjoy Small Talk
In the city, people are often in a rush. But people are also incredibly lonely. Slow down and look around. You’ll see lots of people who are alone and who would benefit from your friendship. Cape Town is not a European city. It is an African city with a lot of Europe in it. People are very open to making connections. There’s a warmth that you sometimes don’t feel in a European city. Griggs writes, that ‘always acting like you have somewhere better to be will eventually lead to unnecessarily offending’ people. That’s good for your city too, even if the rush is tolerated.

Shop Local as much as possible
He writes, ‘I would encourage you to see shopping local as an opportunity to become a good local.’ Whether it’s caterers, lunchtime appointments in the city, printing, or just where you regularly purchase coffee or church refreshments, I want the businesses in my section of Cape Town to know we’re part of the neighbourhood. We’re buying local and eating local because we are local. Griggs talks a lot about loving local food and then there’s a whole section about soft-shell crabs. Normally you’d expect an editor’s intervention but these guys in Morehead City love their soft-shell crabs.

Donnie Griggs out on the boat
Donnie Griggs out on the boat

Don’t be a Jerk
(It’s worth mentioning again) He prefaces this section helpfully by noting, ‘I’m not saying that everyone who lives in a big city is a jerk.’ Followed by the word, ‘But…’ and then so helpfully corrects how, even we as Christians, can act in an unnecessarily discourteous way when dealing with folks in a city.

But, ‘in a small town, you should take every opportunity to be kind and courteous.’

There’s a danger in city life because we probably won’t see a person again, and can therefore treat them with less respect than they deserve, especially if they’re serving us poorly. In a small town our bad responses will get known very quickly. But that behaviour is no less acceptable in the city. And will also be known. You reap what you sow. As in the town and suburb, so in the city, a Christian’s rudeness can have a deadening effect on mission.

Be a Blessing
I am taking this on board for our city site: ‘When considering how you can engage the culture of your small town with the gospel, please don’t just settle for contextualized church programs and church facilities. Love where you live and serve where you live. Let everyone know that you really care about them, whether they come to your church or not.’

Donnie has written a highly readable book with a great and simple message: be a blessing to your town. Be deliberate and consistent.

I want to add that, if you’re in the city, see your section of the city, whether you work there each day, or whether you live there, as your own locality, your own small town within the city, and act accordingly.

Small Town Jesus is available on Amazon here

Jubilee Community Church’s City Congregation will begin meeting on Sundays from 25th September, 10.30am, 33 Kloof Street, Cape Town

For a 30-Day Prayer Guide to pray for the launch of the site click here

©2016 Lex Loizides / Church History Review

 

Professor John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town!

John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
Good News for Cape Town!
It is with great joy that we were able to host the visit to Cape Town of Professor John Lennox and Michael Ramsden.
Professor Lennox is a highly respected academic from Oxford University who has debated Richard Dawkins on three occasions and who regularly receives invitations to speak on matters of faith at leading academic institutions. Michael Ramsden is the European Director of RZIM and a much sought after speaker to business leaders as well as on university campuses.
Lex Loizides
(On behalf of Jubilee and RZIM)
To hear John on Jo’burg’s Talk Radio click here. This is a brilliant example of how to answer questions intelligently, in a confident and winsome manner.
Prof John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town
Prof John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town
Prof Lennox and Michael Ramsden fielded tough questions at Jubilee in Cape Town.

Tuesday 12th 

University of Cape Town Vice Chancellor’s Open Lecture
Professor John Lennox
‘A Matter of Gravity – God, the Universe and Stephen Hawking’
This event was oversubscribed.
See the VIDEO here which includes VC Max Price’s excellent introduction.
Prof John Lennox delivers the Vice Chancellor's Open Lecture at The University of Cape Town
Prof John Lennox delivers the Vice Chancellor’s Open Lecture at The University of Cape Town

Wednesday 13th

1.00pm – 1.45pm
Lunchtime: UCT Mission with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Has science buried God?’
John Lennox speaks in Observatory, Cape Town
John Lennox speaks in Observatory, Cape Town
7:30pm 
Engaging Hearts and Minds 1 – John Lennox
Followed by Q&A
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Thursday 14th 

1.00pm – 1.45pm
Lunchtime: UCT Mission with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Christianity and the tooth fairy!’
Prof John Lennox also spoke at one of South Africa's top high schools
Prof John Lennox also spoke at one of South Africa’s top high schools
7:30pm 
Engaging Hearts and Minds 2 – John Lennox
Followed by Q&A
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Friday 15th

Prof John Lennox speaks to students at the University of Stellenbosch
Prof John Lennox speaks to students at the University of Stellenbosch
John Lennox speaking at Stellenbosch University
1.00pm – 1.45pm
UCT Mission: Michael Ramsden
Michael Ramsden addresses students at the University of Cape Town
Michael Ramsden addresses students at the University of Cape Town
‘Michael in the Lions Den’ – Q&A
 For more info: Open Secret
Michael Ramsden speaks to students after his lecture at UCT
Michael Ramsden speaks to students after his lecture at UCT
Michael also spoke brilliantly at a business leader’s dinner in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town.
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden will address business leaders in Cape Town
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden will address business leaders in Cape Town
7.30pm
Business Leader’s Dinner with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Truth and Trust in Life and Leadership’
Moyo Restaurant, Kirstenbosch Gardens
Professor John Lennox will be speaking at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa
Professor John Lennox will be speaking at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa, Sun March 17, 2013

Recordings of John Lennox speaking in Cape Town

John Lennox speaking in Cape Town
John Lennox speaking in Cape Town
9.30am
Jubilee Community Church
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town
8.00am & 10.00am 
114 3rd Avenue, Kenilworth
7.00pm
City Wide Celebration  – John Lennox
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town
John Lennox at the Houses of Parliament, London
John Lennox at the Houses of Parliament, London (Photo: Bible Society/Clare Kendall)
You can also listen to John Lennox addressing a Prayer Breakfast at the UK Houses of Parliament here
John Lennox
John Lennox

Prof. John Lennox

John Lennox is a highly respected Oxford University Professor with formidable academic credentials. He is Professor of Mathematics, Oxford University, Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford.
Along with a razor sharp wit, John has a sincere care for those who are genuinely troubled with questions or objections concerning the truthfulness of the Christian Faith.
He has successfully debated Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (both high profile atheists), and has spoken to large audiences at Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities. This is his first visit to Cape Town.
John will be delivering the highly acclaimed Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture at UCT for the first time this year as well as several non-academic talks which will be inspiring, and challenging.
Our non church-going friends will be intrigued to listen to, and ask questions of, one of the finest intellectual minds in the church today. All the meetings will be relevant to those who are not convinced of the truth of Christianity.
Apologist and Evangelist Michael Ramsden
Apologist and Evangelist Michael Ramsden

Michael Ramsden

Michael has been European Director of RZIM Zacharias Trust since its foundation in 1997. He is also Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and Lecturer in Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
While at Sheffield University doing research in Law and Economics, Michael taught Moral Philosophy and lectured for the International Seminar on Jurisprudence and Human Rights in Strasbourg.
He has been invited to lecture to a variety of groups including the White House staff in Washington, D.C., leaders at NATO HQ in Brussels and Members of the European Parliament.