For many of the approximately 100 community people who come in for fellowship and friendship – and a three course meal each Thursday evening, this is their ‘church’. Revive church plant (Melbourne, Australia) has a praise and commitment time each Saturday evening, a bunch of small groups and mid-week church, prayer fellowship every Monday evening, and has just started a school for young people who ‘have been asked to leave all other schools’! ‘These people are our friends,’ I regularly hear volunteers at the Café and Revive say. ‘These are the people that Jesus would be spending time with!’
Revive church started as the vision of young adults, many of whom had disconnected from church but wanted to grow spiritually. Through their Bible reading, prayer and reflection, as well as inviting their unchurched friends to worship services – they were increasingly impressed that Jesus wanted them to relate to the hungry and needy. (Matt 25) There was a growing conviction that the gospel must be real – and make a difference in people’s lives, addressing the injustices of society. Having attended an inspirational conference – and after making up some chicken sandwiches, some headed out late one Saturday night to ‘feed the homeless’! Most they approached on the streets were not homeless – and even feared they were about to be assaulted! Then a social worker from the community spoke in their worship service about feeding the broken and addicted. A number went from that worship time to help him at the Dining Room – a community meal for homeless and addicted people, each Tuesday evening.
They now see that this was an important step – connecting with what is already happening in the community, learning from those already serving. ‘We learnt how the community related, what was needed, and we could see something that was working,’ says planter Julie Judd. ‘Out of our involvement in the Dinning Room we identified a need for families with children.’ That is where the idea of Vive Café started. Teams of volunteers have trained in relating to people in poverty and with addictions, and in food handling laws and ‘safe places’ for the vulnerable. Shopping centers, local newspaper offices and commercial restaurants have provided funding and meals – and also widened the team of volunteers from the community.
It is not a soup kitchen – but a meal for fellowship in the community. This is the only church (gathering) that these people know of! In the midst of the noise – chatter, music, kids running and playing, volunteers serving, clothes and food being distributed – there is ‘Peace’!