Different Community, Different Challenges
Elevate is up to five barbecues in four cities: Flint, Pontiac, Detroit and Mount Clemens.
One of the things that I get to do for Elevate is travel around and visit all the different barbecues, meet the different leaders, and get to see the different things that groups are doing that are working in their contexts.
This weekend I went to visit the Flint location which meets at Riverside Park, next to UM-Flint on the last Saturday of every month. Flint has a very good network of shelters and warming stations in place right in the downtown area, four within walking distance of our park. Most of their shelters are for men, and there are others services in place for women and children in town. This being the case, transient populations are pretty low. Usually the homeless people are regulars at the shelters, and they all know each other pretty well.
Contrast this with Mount Clemens. There, the summer months see a higher poor or homeless population because it isn’t so hard to stay outside. But once winter comes, most of those people are moving toward Detroit which has a greater number of shelters. Therefore, depending on the time of year, the numbers at the Mount Clemens barbecue may ebb and flow.
Just as with anywhere, different trends like these influence how to build community. Thus, what happens over time, is that each barbecue takes on an identity and look of its own as it changes to best impact its community because what works in Flint might not work in Pontiac or Mount Clemens. Or, one Detroit barbecue might not even look the same as the other Detroit barbecue. Real work in different communities can’t be cookie cutter.
The beauty of the Church (and barbecues) is that it can change depending on its context, and as long as you are faithful to proclaiming the message of Jesus, the method by which you do that is flexible.
Pray that our leaders take risks and try new methods to better serve the communities they are building up.