Posted by Joel Barber on 3 February 2017

In August 2016 I went with my family to visit a church in Redding, California called Bethel. We had heard a lot about it but had never been. The church was amazing and as a family we were seriously blessed! But for me, what stuck out the most was the impact that the church had on their town. On our first day we were in a shop and the shop assistant quickly noticed our strange English accents. He asked if we were visiting the town to see the church. It didn’t matter where we went: shops, restaurants, hiking up a mountain – people assumed we were in Redding to visit Bethel. What blew me away even more was how highly everyone spoke of them. The Church had really touched the town and everyone knew about it.

I came back to Leicester really challenged. If I asked someone in the street about my church, what would they say? Would they even know it existed? Having a busy Sunday morning is great, but are we actually affecting our city? What would happen if we believed that God was going to change our city?

Matthew 5:14-16 says, “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bring out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.” I’ve been to hundreds of conferences where we are told to go and change the world. How many people do you hear talking about changing the world? I always switch off at that point. I love the idea but it seems so unachievable. I’ve always watched those films, listened to those talks and songs and just seen changing the world as nothing but a romanticised idea. It’s all well and good saying it, but where do you even start? How do you actually change the world?

We want to see the world saved but it just seems like too big a task and we let our brains get in the way of our faith. I believe we need to start with what’s in front of us. For me personally, there are almost half a million people living in Leicester. What if my city was filled with the power of Jesus? What if people were being healed, marriages were restored, addictions broken, the dead raised to life? What if people were queueing to get into church and running for the good seats? What if people weren’t going to the stadium to watch the football but for church?

‘City On Fire’ is a declaration that God will change our city. It is us proclaiming as a church that we believe in Him and what He says – we truly believe that God can and will change our city!

- Joel Barber, worship pastor at Leicester City Vineyard UK.

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