SHARING THE GOSPEL ON THE VAUXHALL GARDENS ESTATE WITH INTEGRITY DEPENDS ON THE CHURCH BEING OPEN TO SHARE THEIR LIVES WITH THEIR NEIGHBOURS
At a Pizza and Questions event at Hope Church in Vauxhall Gardens one man turned to LCM Missionary Shane Goodyear saying, ‘I admire all you guys’. It’s not usual for men on the estate to openly express admiration so Shane enquired further and learned that he had observed that people at the church had happy marriages. From his perspective, their healthy relationships were something to be desired. The comment may have come as a surprise, but it has its foundations in a carefully thought through approach to sharing the gospel in Vauxhall.
RELATIONSHIPS OF INTEGRITY
When Shane moved onto the estate with his family two years earlier, he began meeting men in the local pub to talk about life and faith and football. ‘Going to the pub to meet men on the estate has been critical,’ he says. It’s taken relationships to a different level. It’s a breeding ground for gospel conversations. In a familiar setting with a pint in hand, men are able to to talk more easily and openly, says Shane. ‘They open up to us with their secrets, what’s really going on in their lives, in their homes. And I let them into my life too.’
Shane calls it building relationships of integrity. ‘Relationships of integrity are fundamentally about trust,’ he says. As missionaries we are accepted by people from the community here, but we are also distinct.
We are meeting in their comfort zone and on their terms, says Shane. So they shape the conversation and the balance of power tilts towards them. That acceptance gives Shane the permission to speak to them of the gospel in a way that they will accept. Shane recently challenged one man quite forcefully to come to Hope Church. He accepted that coming from me because I’ve known him for a long time through the pub and football.
The comment about healthy marriages in the church gave a natural gospel focus to their conversations. Shane was able to talk about such things as forgiveness and grace, that his marriage with Jasmine is centred on the gospel, which gives them a firm foundation to work through issues.