This is an article of mine that featured in The Times this week. (Baptist Times.)
I CONFIDENTLY reassured my St St team Colin and Alice, from Newbury Baptist Church, that my mad idea of setting up four doors on the streets of Peterborough city centre to paint on was going to work – and what’s more, that people would simply come along and take part. Yet, I didn’t quite expect quite so many people to join us on an October Sunday morning. Over a few hours, more than 90 people stopped by and painted heart shapes on the four doors.
The explanation of this unusual work of art read: Once upon a time there was a man who said: ‘Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.’
As people painted they wanted to know who the man was who said this and what the painting was all about. We spoke about Jesus standing at the door of their hearts.
For some people they just needed to know that God was with them. Alice prayed with a troubled family who were concerned for their nephew who had just been born prematurely. They had used the painting as a kind of prayer and had beautifully painted a heart that read, ‘Good luck Zeke.’
Clinton, the church and community worker for Hinckley Baptist Church, also joined me in this unusual street project. He reflected upon his experience and wrote, ‘We had such a good time hanging out and seeing many people who were hurt and lonely hear the gospel for maybe the first time.’
Good news was simply shared. On offer were copies of booklets called Why Jesus? Some people observed all the hubbub of the painting and then simply took a booklet away with them.
This non-confrontational way of evangelism seemed to work. It allowed people the choice to take information or not, to engage with the theme or simply walk on by, to ask about why we were doing it, or to quietly write a prayer or message in a heart shape.
People seemed to appreciate the peaceful space and time to paint. For many this would have been the first time they had heard about the good news of Jesus and God’s love for them.
Please join me to be ‘saints on the streets’ and bring this great news to those who have yet to hear it. I challenge you to set aside two or three Sundays a year in your church diary to meet people out and about in your community!
What will you do? Let me know what St St projects you are doing and add your stories to my blog at: http://duffett. wordpress.com z The Revd Chris Duffett is an evangelist and vice-president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain