Ben Bohren is preaching very soon and when I read his sermon title “What Does Your Church Stand For?” my first thought was “With WHOM Does Your Church Stand?” FCC Pomona is more and more a place of relationality. Relationships with God, Christ and with people are primary. Issues come after people; people come first.
Our relationships with God, with Christ and people give rise to the concerns to which we give attention and energy. When the Core Team met last year and one of our group brought up how we are impacted by homelessness on the church campus, they began to discern a direction of ministry. It is because we practice the art of relationship building that we developed the capacity to take on this effort. One result has been meeting with current and former residents of Our House shelter, on our campus.
Our Core Team members are growing in understanding that these are some of the people with whom our church stands. It is gratifying, humbling and inspiring to hear the stories of people from their own lips and hearts. It is transforming us to listen deeply to their struggles and hopes. It is transforming for these guests of ours to have people listen deeply to their stories.
People with whom we are developing relationships through ICON (Inland Communities Organizing Network) share our concern and interest in eliminating homelessness. We are beginning to explore what the work is for us to do together as we move forward. It’s slow, patient work. Solving real life problems requires building power and building power requires developing relationships of trust and understanding. There is no quick fix, but if we have the patience and perseverance to stay with something, over time, there will be transformation.
We follow Jesus who stood with people when they were sick, sinful, scared, and sad. He stood with people who were perplexed and poor, agitated and angry, unclean and unkempt. Our church endeavors to stand with the people Jesus stood with. This is what informs our ministry and it all begins in relationship.