Our Christian Faith
Why we do what we do at Signposts
A theological reflection
Signposts is governed and managed by Christians. As Christians we hold the bible in high regard as the inspired word of God. We recognise that within and through its various forms of literary style and genre anyone can discern the voice and message of a loving creator God. It tells of how as humankind we broke away from a harmonious and loving relationship with our creator and that when this happened God had to implement his rescue plan to bring us back into a right relationship with himself. His plan involved working with a group of people throughout human history and then demonstrated his love even more fully by sending his son, Jesus, into the world as a baby. This son grew up, became a Jewish Rabbi, taught from the Jewish scriptures and attracted a large following. He performed many miracles and became a threat to the existing religious leaders of the time. These leaders manipulated the Roman occupational forces to have Jesus crucified and laid in a sealed and guarded tomb.
Amazingly after three days he rose from the dead, got out of the tomb and appeared to many hundreds of eye witnesses some of whose accounts we can read in the second part of the Bible. Jesus taught us that anyone who puts their faith and trust in him as Lord and Saviour will become a positively changed person, and more able to create wholesome relationships, extend forgiveness to those who have hurt them, and have greater passion and energy to reach out and extend that love to others. Many millions across the world, over the years since, have taken that step and had that experience and those Christians who work at Signposts will be happy to tell you their story of faith if you ask them.
The bible is full of encouragement to befriend and work with the poorer people in our society and Jesus himself taught us to do the same. In fact God seems to have a particular interest in bringing life and hope to those who are in need, sick, disadvantaged, trampled, upon, abused, confused, sad and suicidal. That is the passion that compels the Christians who work in the Signposts organisation and extends out to the many volunteers and clients with whom we work on a daily basis.
A large part of what Jesus went about doing, whilst here on the earth, was to show compassion and mercy to those who were poor (Matthew 19 v 21) who were sick or lame, (Matthew 4 v 23), who were abused (John 8 v 4 -11) and who had made poor or forced choices in life (John 4). He even welcomed and hung around with people who were despised by the society of the time such as prostitutes and those who were in league with the Roman oppressors. (Luke 19 v 1-10). He trained his disciples to do the same and as this new movement grew and grew his followers increased in numbers and formed into groups of believers which we now know as churches, still carrying out this work of caring for the poor and oppressed, persecuted and stigmatised.
Throughout church history the church has been at the forefront of social welfare and social reform. One of its earliest expressions was in monasteries, where monks used to take care of the sick and dying, to provide work for the poor and accommodation for the homeless. The monks studied medicine and made and kept medicines which were used in their infirmaries.
For many centuries, the task of caring for the poor was left to the Church. Each parish was given an Overseer of the Poor to help with this cause in 1572 to treat those who were old, poor, weak and sick. In many parts of the world today the church is the only source of care for the poor and sick. Even today, in one of the world’s richest countries, it is the churches who are leading the way in providing food for the poor through food-banks like the one we run at Signposts.
Signposts was founded in 2006/7 when a couple of Rising Brook Baptist Church Christians, attending a Borough Council Health Inequalities conference in 2005, went to the then Director of Public Health an offered to run a community café in the old rent building that had just been offered to the Primary Care Trust.
What prompted them to go forward was a desire in their hearts to do more to help the people of nearby Highfields, a desire which had been built up over a number of years of church attendance, prayerful thought and involvement in church membership and leadership. The needs of the Highfields estate had for a long time been on the hearts of both church leaders and some members of the congregation who had been praying for the estate and considering how best to meet the many needs brought about by poverty, family breakdown, unemployment, health inequalities and poor education.
With much support from the Councils, the Primary Care Trust and the Police the building was refurbished and re-designed for community use. A company limited by guarantee was established on 1st June 2006 and on 18th July 2007 the Centre opened to the public.
So Signposts is a both an expression of part of what the Christian church has stood for since it started and is also a local expression of that ministry of Jesus that modern day Christians in Stafford are still passionate about.
Below are some of the bible passages that both teach and inspire us to do the work we do.
From the first part of the Bible before Jesus came:
Leviticus 19:18 The Message
Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people.
Love your neighbour as yourself. I am God.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 The Message
7-9 When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don’t count the cost. Don’t listen to that selfish voice saying, “It’s almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled,” and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He’ll call God’s attention to you and your blatant sin.
10-11 Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.
Proverbs 14:21 The Message
It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need,
but compassion for the poor—what a blessing!
From the second part of the Bible which tells us how Jesus came, what he did and the effect on the people who chose to follow him.
Matthew 5 New Living Translation (NLT)
The Sermon on the Mount
5 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Matthew 25 NLT
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Romans 12 NLT
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Luke 16:13 ESV
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Luke 12:33 ESV
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Acts 2:42-46 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
Acts 20:35 ESV
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Romans 12:17-21 The Message
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
James 2:14-24 ESV
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. …
It is because we have been loved and helped and forgiven so much ourselves that find the strength within ourselves to love and help and forgive others. We ourselves know that we are not perfect people nor ever will be, God has not finished with us yet! We rely daily on God’s help to overcome our weaknesses and give us strength to deal with whatever comes our way. Because of this we are in no position to judge others and so a non-judgmental approach in our work is fundamental.
We don’t usually verbally share all this good news with our clients, unless they specifically ask us, because we want people to see that we are putting our faith into action and demonstrating practically that God’s Kingdom is active on the earth. Actions speak louder than words. However that doesn’t mean we don’t have good news to share – and lots of it! So if you are interested and want to know more then do ask and we will happily talk with you about our faith in Jesus and show you how your life can be transformed too. We can also invite you along to an Alpha course at a local church where you can ask all the questions you want about our faith or just listen to what a speaker has to say.
To know more about the Vision, Mission, and Values of Signposts click here.
Please note that whilst all the Directors and Executive Centre Manager are Christians we hold to an equal opportunities policy and have happily recruited workers and volunteers of other faiths or none to help us in our work if they share the same values and are happy to work alongside us.
We often say that we hold to a Christian ethos which we would sum up as follows:
Signposts Ethos Statement
The ethos of Signposts is our motivation for all our work – it is the reason why we do what we do. It is to work together to extend Jesus’ model of the Kingdom of God on earth by living out a lifestyle of love, truth, justice, mercy and forgiveness, according to his teaching. We are inspired by his message, life and example through which God’s unconditional love for all people is expressed.
While this ethos is given life through our relationships, our relationships – the way we work together and behave with one another – are a demonstration and authentication of our ethos. It is through these relationships, with each other and those whom we seek to serve, that we practise our ethos.
Our ethos or motivation, and therefore our relationships, are rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ and in his love, which compels us to serve others, putting their needs first. When we work together it is this faith which directs and influences both our internal relationships as well as our work with those whom Signposts is seeking to serve.
In this way Signposts operates on the understanding that our activities are simply an outworking of our faith; that our ‘doing’ derives directly from our ‘being’. There is an essential and indissoluble link between the inner and the outer, the private life and the public face of Signposts. The link between who we are and what we do cannot be broken.
KD 26/1/16; Revised 16/8/16.