Inhabiting the Public Square (with Robin Vincent and Thom Lynch)

Robin Vincent and Thom Lynch are part of the Hill Church in Swansea and have pioneered the Matthew's House project engaging with the need in the town. In this Broadcast, they tell the story of the phenomenal success of this project and help us think through how our church plants can serve the poor.


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The Church is a Force for Good and Prayer for the City

  • In Galatians 2:10 the early church is described as having a heart for the poor. 
  • Hospitality runs through the bible and gospels.
  • Abraham was given a promise by God that he would be a nation that is blessed but also will be a blessing.
  • Titus 2 tells us to be zealous for good works, the church must have a motivation to be a force for good and the gospel.
  • We need to be a people who listen to the voice of God. When you get that nudge from God you should be willing to go with the call of God even if you don't have it all mapped out.
  • We should have our oil lamps topped up. We need to have our resources ready, and be an excellent steward of our resources. 
  • The church needs to identify the need of the city, and open things up for the city to get involved with too.

The Context for Matthew's House

  • In Matthew 9:9-13  Matthew talks about his own testimony. When Matthew follows Jesus he brings Him to his house, where a lot of different kinds of people are attracted to as well. When the Pharisees question Jesus for who He is with, He tells them that He desires mercy not sacrifice.
  • Jesus was willing to be around people in a compassionate way but was never willing to compromise.
  • Jesus brought hope and hospitality to the rejected.
  • Matthew's House is in Swansea that is a home for anyone in any kind of situation. 
  • Two projects have come out of this: Matt's Cafe and Homeless Period project.
  • Matthew's House is now like a platform for people to get involved in giving donations and volunteering.
  • Matthew's House decided to never hide the Christian faith that was behind its work. 

Q&A

1. How did you get Matthew's House?

  • Matthew's House appears in BBC One's Britain's Secret Charity Cheats, where the story of the former occupier of the Matthew's House building is explained.
  • God completely provided the building which had already been renovated, whereas another building which was a possibility would have needed millions spent in order to renovate it. 

2. How long did it take you to get the building, have the idea for Matthew's House and open your doors?

  • It took around a year to get the building. Then hours of work was put into the workings out of what the building could specifically be for. Robin was challenged over the importance of the name of the building and that is when God spoke to him about the Matthew story.
  • In March 2017 it then took 9-12 months to sort the building out. The Sunday church services during this time consisted of helping get the building in working order. Loads of the church community were very excited for the project.
  • Matt's Cafe was based on and helped by the Real Junk Food Project.

3. When you started the cafe, did you realise how well it would take off?

  • No, when Matt's Cafe started the building was still being renovated in parts by different people because no one knew how successful the cafe would be. 
  • By the second week it was clear that a project manager was needed.
  • The success wasn't thought about as much as the need.

4. How did you engage the city in the project?

  • One way to engage the city is by being a family, and opening your arms to people and bringing them into the projects that you're doing. 
  • A lot of churches don't realise how good they are at planning and organising.
  • There is power in the message of doing things for other people, the city is drawn into that.

5. Was everyone on board with the project?

  • You have to make allowances that when the destination of the bus changes, some might want to get off. 
  • You're always discipling people, some people got the project straight away and some took a while to get it. 
  • You can be part of The Hill Church and not take part in Matthew's Project.

6. How overtly are you evangelising people in the project?

  • Hospitality is right at the heart of the Christian message. 
  • The project realises that humans are made in the image of God and therefore wants to build relationships with the community, and inevitably people want to know what gives you peace and what your drive is. 
  • By knowing Jesus Christ, we will be a community that stands out. 
  • Being an ambassador for Christ is an evangelistic move.

7. It was mentioned that we need our lamp topped up, how do we do that?

  • This was mentioned in the context of resources. It is always good to keep an eye on the finances but with a heart of grace. 
  • We have to be stewards of what we've been given.
  • We have to be willing to listen to the voice of Jesus. It is better to be an obedient fool than a disobedient wise person. 

8. Where can we find the BBC episode?

  • If you go onto BBC iPlayer, on BBC One search 'Britain's Secret Charity Cheats'. Matthew's House is featured on the 9:15 programme from Tuesday 5th June.
  • It is good to watch the whole thing but Matthew's House appears from minute 30 for around 12 minutes.

9. What are you hoping Matthew's House will become in the next 5 years?

  • Sustainable with a good reputation. 
  • A Kingdom project, not simply about The Hill Church.
  • Something the city is proud and pleased for. 
  • Doing Matthew's House well.