By Amy Galliford
On an average Saturday, a workshop in Sydney’s west is full of dust, woodchips and an assortment of four-letter words that the average Christian might not typically associate with ministry. As Bruce Pederson sees it, this is exactly the kind of place where Jesus walks.
Known as Telopea Shed, this workshop brings believers together with those who are searching over the most practical of activities – woodwork. People from the local area, often from rough backgrounds and with complicated histories, come in to work on projects and connect with others. What they find is a community rich in sincerity and laughter, willing to welcome them just as they are.
Bruce is a key leader of the program. He says that despite the often hard exterior of the members, “it’s easy to see their soft hearts.”
The program is animated by a passionate belief among leaders like Bruce that the Kingdom of God comes in many different shapes – and not always the shape of our church buildings. By establishing a ministry that serves the community outside the church walls, they are able to reach out to those on the margins who may not otherwise feel at home among Christians.
“Church communities often really avoid taboo … the Shed is a very different world,” Bruce says. “These people are here to really talk about stuff.”
While a flourishing church community is a worthy goal, the leaders of Telopea Shed strongly emphasise engaging with the ‘real world’, which resists all the conventions and expectations we tend to place around ministry. Faith in this context expresses itself through open-hearted, authentic connection with people who are often suspicious of Christians and the God they follow. Bruce states it simply:
Telopea Shed is one of the programs run through Hope Connect, the community services ministry of Telopea Church. Having recently received a grant from churches of Christ, they have been able to employ a coordinator to run the Shed on Wednesdays and expand the ministry to Saturdays. This will enable the ongoing development of relationships with the men and women who regularly attend.
Through this ministry, outworked on the benches of a shed workshop, people are discovering that Christians are real, and better yet, so is the One they follow – the carpenter from Nazareth. Deep and fruitful connections are being formed between believers and people who may feel and seem far from the church but are undeniably close to the Kingdom.
Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE