Last Thursday Living Stones held one of its largest outreaches to the city thus far; though it’s not the kind of “outreach” one traditionally might expect a church to organize.  This time it wasn’t a coat drive or serving food to the homeless or a park clean up – though we’ve done each of these in the past and will continue to serve our city in this capacity in the future. This outreach focused on supporting MidTown businesses and local art, while making those two things accessible to the people of Reno and Sparks through the MidTown Art Walk.  There were over 30 merchants involved and over 30 artists of all mediums featured with 1200 people participating in the walk.

When it comes to the city, many people see it as the death of a ministry and often an unholy place to flee from to the safety of our Christian enclaves.  But is this how the Bible calls us to live and serve on His mission?

During Israel’s 70 years of exile in Babylon, the message of the prophet Jeremiah was not to isolate themselves from the people and culture of Babylon, but to,"seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. “ (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

Just as the people of Israel were in exile, Christians are referred to as sojourners and exiles (1 Peter 1:2-4) because our true citizenship as Christians is in heaven, not this world (Philippians 3:20).

So then what do we do with our “70” years of exile?

One camp’s knee-jerk reaction is to judge the world though it doesn’t understand God’s grace and retreat.  But Paul says that if this was the way we were intended to live our lives then it would be impossible -- for we’d have to go out of the world (1 Cor. 5).   Unfortunately, far too often though we see this being a prevalent example of the church today.

"Our example however is Jesus who left heaven, where no sin exists, took on flesh and entered into a world full of sin."

Our example however is Jesus who left heaven, where no sin exists, took on flesh and entered into a world full of sin.  As Christians we are called to be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14).  How effective is the use of a flashlight in the middle of a bright sunny day? Wouldn’t the person holding the flashlight be foolish and honestly look quite odd?  In the same way, as we’re called to be light, we are to shine in the darkness to the glory of the Father through our good works (Matt 5:16).  Why then do we not see it as foolish when Christians, who are the light of the world, hang out only in areas of “light” and we incorrectly ascribe it as holy?  As it is said, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

The Art Walk was specifically organized to bring to light the good things happening in the MidTown region just south of Living Stones and raise awareness of the local merchants most people don’t even know exist.   This region is often discounted or overlooked, not getting credit for the reasons why it is a treasure.  There is a deep culture of art that runs through the veins of the area, which is supported by the local merchants with their unique stores and restaurants that you would not be able to find anywhere else in town.

Hopefully because of the MidTown Art Walk, many people were able to see past the common perception of the area and were able to engage with the vibrant up-and-coming community that many may have discounted or overlooked in the past.East Inflatables

I echo the prayer of Jesus, that we, the Living Stones community would not be taken out of the world, but that we would be kept from the evil one (John 17:15), as we set down roots in this region, seeking the welfare and transformation of the city in a Gospel Centered way to the glory of the Father!

MissionCraig Parish