When the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative was birthed seven-plus years ago, it came into existence with a different set of questions. Against the backdrop of the church in decline and a multitude of church-growth strategies, those early members of the DWCC didn’t spend time asking about filling pews, church attendance, or about how to be relevant. Instead, at the heart of the Collaborative was a different question: what does it look like when God moves back into the neighbourhood?
A prophetic voice from over two-thousand years ago once wrote that when God moves back into the city, kids will play in the streets safely (a good place to grow up), and older folks will walk safely in the city (a good place to grow old). This is the ethos of the Collaborative, that we would be a renewing presence in the city such that it would be a good place to grow up and a good place to grow old.
The Jesus following faith community has always been at the centre of the Collaborative – right from its very origins. Now, I’m new to the Collaborative, but I’ve been watching it all unfold from afar for a few years now. One of the obstacles I’ve faced is how we define the DWCC.
Is it a church?
Is it a non-profit?
It is a neighbourhood renewal group?
Is it a bunch of friends earnestly seeking the welfare of the city of Windsor?
In some ways, the answer to all of these is yes.
If we are a church at our core, we are certainly not your run-of-the-mill church. If we are a church, we are an inside out church. We prefer to call ourselves a missionary community set on renewing the city through neighbourhood engagement.
In an ever-changing, post-Christendom, post-modern, and post-church society, the question we must ask ourselves over and over again comes straight out of Psalm 137: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” It’s set in an exile, where a people were conquered and carried off into a foreign land, where they were not the dominant culture, and where everything had changed for them.
The Canadian church context has changed; the landscape has morphed before our eyes. And we must ask how we will engage our world and our city with good news, when we are no longer at the centre, when we are no longer in places or privilege or power.
Our answer? By being faithfully present. By planting gardens for the community. By moving in and loving on people. By being good neighbours. By faithful presence we mean the act of moving into the downtown core with a commitment to having a hopeful imagination for the city, engaging at a local level in neighbourhood renewal, and by partnering with others who have the same passion and dream for the city.
One of our values is simplicity. We don’t need to overcomplicate what it means to be faithfully present. It really is about being a life-giving presence on your street, in your block, and in your neighbourhood. It’s about shifting from the backyard to the front porch, about being friendly and hospitable, and about supporting local downtown businesses.
When enough of us are faithfully present, this city will be a good place to grow up and a good place to grow old.
Thanks for reading.