Find part one here
A brief guide to some basic mission and evangelism events in Cumbria that worked, and what easy steps we’d need to take to adapt/replicate them in our own church.
- “Desert Island Discs”, Thursday evening, social club. A free but bookable event (for planning purposes) starting with a pie and pea supper, then Bishop Paul was interviewed on a stage for around 45 minutes, followed by me. We each gave an account of how we came to faith, and used the opportunity to share how faith has shaped our lives through the good times and bad, illustrated by the songs we chose which were played throughout. The event was relaxed, informal, and ran very smoothly.
Requirements and Considerations: an appropriate location (the social club venue was ideally set up for this, and is based within the community the church wanted to reach), a decent sound system, and food (pies and peas were served out of thermal containers and polystyrene plates and cutlery were provided). It also required a competent interviewer who had done their homework so knew which questions to ask to get the most out of the interviews. This worked very well. Do you have a social club/pub in your parish used to hosting bands/entertainments that is therefore already perfectly set up for this kind of event? You can contact the Mission and Ministry Support Team for support with guest speakers.
- “A Slice of Hope: Anxiety and Depression Stories of Hope” Friday evening, church hall. Revd Ian Somasundram and I were interviewed about our experiences of mental ill health and how faith had helped us. Whilst the subject matter was very heavy and emotional, the evening felt relaxed. I think it was helpful for people to see the local church engaging with this topic, which affects so many. The evangelistic element, whilst explicit, felt appropriately gentle as the evening was about two people’s personal stories and their faith. A Q&A at the end provided the opportunity for people to engage further, which many did. At least two non-Christians came back to other events that weekend after this evening, and one has since asked how she can take a next step on her journey of faith. I believe God often works at the edges of our comfort zones and in our brokenness, so being open about mental ill-health seems like a positive way of opening people up to the Holy Spirit.
Requirements and Considerations: An appropriate venue, provision of refreshments, decent mics and speakers, an interviewer/leader who is familiar with the topic, and the guest speakers themselves. A break in the middle provided a good chance to talk one-to-one with folk, eat cake and drink tea. If none of the speakers are trained counsellors/therapists, make that very clear at the beginning. Other topics to consider: bereavement, dementia, childlessness, and veterans in the community with PTSD. Again, you can contact the Mission and Ministry Support Team for support with guest speakers for this topic.
- “The Tractor Shed Brewery Trip”, Friday evening. Tickets cost £5 which included a pie, a quiz (which was very well run, and key to the success of the night), a short talk from Bishop Paul and Revd Libby, and an optional tour of the brewery. This event surprised locals who didn’t imagine “the church” would do something like hold a quiz in a brewery. It was a helpful example of the church being in the community, challenging perceptions of it being stuffy and out of touch.
Requirements and Considerations: It used an existing link with the brewery owners. Someone experienced devised and ran the quiz and a simple meal was provided. What links does your church already have with venues in the community? What about an introduction to wine tasting or whiskey tasting?
- “Funtatics- Family Fun Mornings”, Saturday morning, all three churches. Big, busy and very well attended events lasting up to 3 hours, which felt like a fusion of Messy Church, a spring fair and an all-age worship service. Each squeezed bouncy castles into their churches or halls and held craft events, “bowling in the aisles”, table tennis, American pool, Zumba, and more. Aimed at building relationships with young families, each church also included a short worship service with action songs and a talk by the visiting team members. One church was delighted to see so many children and parents from their associated tots group attending this service (as they are not church-goers).
Requirements and Considerations: People-power to run a full morning of activities. Each church made best use of what God provided in their location in terms of people, equipment, resources, experience etc. Refreshments (juice, cakes, hot dogs, tea and coffee) were provided. All aspects were deliberately and clearly aimed at welcoming and accommodating young families. They were noisy, fun-filled and made full use of available space.
- “Book Binding” Saturday afternoon, church hall. A 3 hour practical craft session led by keen crafter Revd Fergus (home team clergy). Church members were told they could come to this event only if they brought someone along, which they did. This reinforced the message that the purpose of this whole mission weekend wasn’t to entertain and sustain the existing congregations (though mission certainly has very positive effects on the whole church), but to reach out to the community. Bishop Paul did a short talk on the origins of the first printed Bibles, but this was not in essence a very evangelistic event. It was more about first steps and relationship building.
Requirements and Considerations: Someone to teach the skill, craft supplies, a suitable venue, a guest speaker, refreshments. What craft skills exist in your congregation? Painting, flower arranging, pottery, sketching, stained glass making, decoupage. Be sure to provide materials and the opportunity for people to finish a piece to take home.
- “Stadium Kick Around” Saturday afternoon. Due to weather conditions this was poorly attended. The plan was to build on relationships with local young people and friends of church members, and at half time Revd Ian was going to do a short talk on faith and sport.
Requirements and Considerations: Sports venue/ park/ field, sports equipment (ball, goal posts), someone to do a talk. Could be a badminton tournament, touch rugby, a bike ride, a hike etc.
- “Women’s Pamper Evening” Saturday evening, Methodist church hall. A night of conversation, food and relaxation. Tables were laden with sandwiches and cakes, and there was the opportunity to have a foot massage or hand treatment. Halfway through the evening Revd Libby gave a very powerful testimony of her personal experience of healing and God’s grace. Many women brought their non-Christian friends, and again, people were pleasantly surprised at the church doing something different like a pamper evening.
Requirements and Considerations: Provision of refreshments, volunteers experienced in beauty therapy and their equipment, someone to do a talk, and an appropriately relaxing and warm venue. The café-style arrangement of tables worked well. Booking ahead meant the home team could provide enough food. For a bank of inspirational Christian speakers who are women check out Project 3.28
- “Sports Quiz” Saturday Evening, Hensingham Rugby League Club. A very well organised quiz supplied by “Christians in Sport” with sandwiches provided by Morrison’s, and a short talk by the visiting mission team. Though not a very well attended event, it was appreciated by those who went, with a couple of non-church attenders going along.
Requirements and Considerations: The Christians in Sport quiz they used was very good but for it to work best they felt it needed someone who is knowledgeable on sport to run it. The visiting mission team wondered if sports quizzes work best when major sports events are happening such as the Olympics/ World Cup/ Commonwealth Games.