By Emily Smith

I was recently in a conversation about the importance of encouragement and building resilience when starting a new community or outreach in church. Leeds Sanctuary is still a young project in Leeds City Centre, and this conversation really got me thinking about the different ways we as a team respond to trying new things and reviewing things we’ve done.

Many of us take comfort in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 1 verse 6, “… the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Interestingly, The Passion Translation uses the phrase “… continue the process of maturing you…” – a translation which, as a perfectionist living in the knowledge that I will never be perfect, I personally prefer! “The process of maturing” feels familiar to me, and perhaps to you too, and I wonder if it would help us to view our expression of Church through this lens.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “mature” as “to become more developed mentally and emotionally and behave in a responsible way.” The fair and reasonable expectation of maturing is that things will change, mistakes will be made, and lessons will be learnt. We will have to let go of some of our expectations, and some of the things we love, in order to move forward; behaving responsibly to steward our resources and communities well.

Many people see mistakes and letting-go as failure, but I would like to suggest that we could reframe that as maturity, and often, obedience. We have been chosen by a gracious God, and we have the power to “stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around us, … [being] inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how [we] think…” (Romans 12:2 TPT). If we can recognise that we’re always maturing, as individuals and the church, we can have the courage of a child in a kind, loving, and gracious family to try, learn, make mistakes and grow.

As for our Team, we support each other in the same ways we aim to support our communities; with an emphasis on wellbeing and flourishing, and with kindness that creates a sanctuary space in which to keep trying and further grow, learn, and flourish, so that we may keep working to build God’s Kingdom. Take at look at some of our resources, event, and communities on our website.

Emily Smith

Leeds Sanctuary