From its inception the Ren community has placed a high priority on serving people outside the walls of the church. We are intentional about not becoming cloistered and disconnected from society. We believe we are called to be "in the world and yet not of it". We are to bring the light of the Gospel to our city. We are driven by the basic belief that there are thousands of people in our city who are ready for God. We believe our job is to find them, introduce them to Christ and then help them grow.
In the early years we ran a small non-profit called West Side Arts that aimed to serve the artistic community in Providence. We had regular gallery and performance nights as a way to build relationship with people and share God's love. We have partnered with the RI Film Fest, Columbus Theatre, West Broadway Neighborhood Association, local businesses and other non-profits on the West Side to do a variety of community events. We place high value on partnering rather than always creating a Christian version of things already happening in the city.
When we moved to the Southside of Providence in 2009 our focus shifted to serve the richly diverse neighborhoods around the church. We formed partnerships with Elmwood Community Center, International Institute, Providence Rescue Mission, Rise, Family Services, Res Ave elementary school, Alvarez high school, Elisha Project and several churches. We have also created a wide variety of outreaches such as Dream Factory (for kids), community festivals, neighborhood clean up days and special concerts. Perhaps the most impactful efforts have been our Christmas and Easter "encounter" productions. We transform our entire space into an interactive experience utilizing music, art, technology and design that hundreds have been blessed by.
It should be mentioned also that we have a special heart for local churches and especially for helping new church plants. We host a weekly prayer meeting on Fridays for local pastors to be refreshed. We have played a large role in creating gatherings and festivals through the years that bring together a wide variety of local churches. We have a strong conviction that God's purposes will be best fulfilled as churches in the city become one in heart.
While we believe strongly in the importance of fusing together our best to build beautiful outreaches to serve church neighbors we also recognize that each person at Ren has their own mission field, in a sense, where they live and work. The pastors and leaders of Ren work hard to equip the church to share the Gospel and spread God's love in tangible ways in each person's sphere of influence. We don't advocate "preaching at people" or evangelizing in ways that are relationally deficient. We believe that Christ shared the Good News naturally and effectively everywhere He went and we are following His example.
In Summer of 2018 we launched our CityLove initiative, commissioning 8 fully funded full-time "urban missionaries" who are working together to serve the city in creative ways. Our prayer is that CityLove will bring God's love to as many people as possible. Learn more: CitylovePVD.org
Over the years at Ren we have invested in a wide variety of global missions. Even as a "baby church" we supported several missionaries and have always given significant support to fuel the great cause of Christ's mission on the earth. While our primary focus is the city of Providence we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to do our part in touching nations.
Perhaps the simplest way we have blessed the nations of the world is through the consistent support of trusted missionaries. We have come alongside men and women who are serving faithfully in places like Jordan, Amsterdam, Mozambique, Northern Africa and Thailand. We believe that the quality of missionaries we support matters. We know our missionaries personally and trust them deeply. Many of them are risking their very lives to do what they do. It is our desire to strengthen them financially but also cover them with earnest prayer and open our doors wide to them when they are in the states.
Ren Church has organized a handful of missions over the years including Haiti and Nicarauga. Several from the community each year venture out to the ends of the earth on various missions. Perhaps the most significant way that Ren has impacted global mission is by sending people out. God calls some of us to lay down roots in RI and serve here but others he has called to faraway places to bring the light of the Gospel. We believe that sending people out is a fulfillment of our purpose and we have seen many go and serve in places like Japan, Thailand, Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, Sri Lanka and regions of Africa.
As westerners we have become a bit spoiled with so many comforts and luxuries but we believe strongly that our lives are no longer our own. We are bound to the purposes of the One who purchased us by His own blood. And where He leads we will follow. This may mean living in the sweltering heat of the desert, facing the dangers of serving in high persecution regions or dwelling with the poorest of the poor. We believe that those who Christ died for matter and that it is our responsibility and high privilege to waste our lives in search for them until they are safe in His arms.