Richmond is a pretty great place to live. On the surface it seems like it is the place to be; a rolling river, bike trails, great music scene, amazing art museum (and art scene), and don’t EVEN get me started on the food here—incredible (and fried). However, under the surface of all the reasons to adore this city lays a hidden painful side.
We have an unspoken injustice that creeps under the belly of this beautiful city. We have lots of poverty.
The church and leaders can no longer stand idly by as our brothers and sisters in poverty wonder how they’re going to keep the lights on for another day, provide yet another meal for their family, or how they’re going to afford school supplies for their children to have a better life.
Can you imagine a world where the church is so influential, and so active in under-resourced neighborhoods that there is no need for government social programs? I imagine a Richmond where neighborhoods can be revitalized without the damaging effects of gentrification. Where our RPS schools are a model of how education in an urban context does not have to suffer but instead can flourish with the help of churches.
My prayer is that Center Church can be a place of hope for our city, that we take seriously our value of being “a church every day of the week instead of just one day.” We want our doors to be open for people to experience transformation. We don’t just want to transform hearts, we want to transform families, we want to transform neighborhoods, we want to transform our city. We recognize that God has given us gifts so that we can gift others. God has called us to be IN RICHMOND, FOR RICHMOND. We are ALL IN for Richmond, and we want people to partner with us.
Here are three (of many) ways we want to start.
- School Supplies
Center Church has an audacious vision to provide every student in need with a backpack and school supplies in Richmond Public Schools. We want to facilitate good learning experiences in Richmond and make sure that every student starts on a level playing field. Our hope is that it is one less thing families have to worry about during the crazy Holiday season–which seems to start in September now.
We want to provide classes for people that attend our church and people in the neighborhood about healthy financial management. There are some pretty basic principals that can be used to get people out of debt and out of financial systems of oppression. Our hope is that we can make entire neighborhoods transform with classes that will educate people on what to do with their income.
We also want to provide ways for people to get healthy. This includes emotional health, spiritual health, and physical health. We are going to provide small groups and classes that will help lead people and neighborhoods to betterment.
- Leadership Development
One of our values is leadership development. The only way we’re going to have a profound influence on our city is if we empower people to be culture changers. It is going to take more people than a group of pastors or a church to bring about change in the city. We want Center Church to be known for leadership development.
For too long the church has expected people to come to them, it’s time that we take the church to people. Sunday will only be one portion of what we do as a church; in fact, my prayer is that it’s the smallest part of our expression of Church. We want to be all in for Richmond, not expect Richmond be all into us. If you want to be a part of this movement—email me, instant message me, Facebook me, call me, text me, send a messenger pigeon. We want you to be a part of what God is doing.