In my many trips to visit churches abroad, including those in South Africa, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and even Cairo recently, one thing that has always caught my attention is the presence of a café and bookshops in these churches. During weekdays, the church is brimming with life as visitors, strangers and members mingle in community. Occasionally I even see their pastors having meals there and members saying hello and introducing their friends.
I am always impressed at the effort, care and professionalism reflected in their public facilities. The cafés are done up beautifully. The food is good and prices are reasonable. There are clear signs to toilets and good facilities for the handicapped and elderly. These churches with people-centred facilities communicate that people are important. I naturally felt attracted to these churches. The church can be an exciting place for people to come or be invited to.
Ministry is about people connections and friendships. Anything in church that encourages that is a very good thing. It provides avenues for evangelism, counseling, discipleship and community interaction. These interactions often spawn many new initiatives, large and small.
Can SAC be such a church? If we put our heart into it and give room for the many dreams and gifts in the community to blossom, it can be amazing what SAC can be. The Cathedral Café is just a start. We can dream of a well-resourced book corner or little shop. What about more cool garden spaces akin to the koi pond area, but with more shade? We have many historical spots on our grounds. More information and their historical significance can be featured. Our tours can step up to new levels of professionalism. Our Cathedral history and story is worthy of that.
Regularly, there are lunchtime talks and lectures. SAC can be an intellectual centre in the heart of the city. We believe that God and His Word is at the centre of truth and knowledge. We run solid courses on Scripture and public square issues. Occasionally, we stage concerts, reminding ourselves that some of the best music had come from the Church. We invite foreign workers for free meals on our grounds. We will even hold shows for them, done in their language and culture.
I am sure many of you can imagine a wide variety of areas which we can grow into. The little things count. In our desire to change the world, it is faithfulness to the small things that sets us on the right direction. If we care for our witness in the local, we then have a basis to care for the global. In fact, good and long-lasting missions work is about the local church overflowing.
May the Cathedral continue to reflect the potential of our community and the richness of our Gospel message. Meanwhile, do enjoy and take full advantage of the refurbished Welcome Centre.