Don’t worry there isn’t a crisis and I don’t need to drown any sorrows.
Most Friday mornings I lead a team of chaplains in one of the most amazing Spoonies you could ever come across. The Drapers in Peterborough is one of the busiest of all the 936 Wetherspoon’s in the UK and often features in their ‘most real ale pints sold’ top 10 pubs.
We have had a very friendly warm welcome from the managers who recently gave us permission to make some beer mats. The only condition was that they needed lots. So we made 5000!
The beer mats help in a number of ways for us to connect with the people in the pub. While they are used alongside the usual ones, every Friday I go round the tables and put them out chatting with people about the ‘table talk game’ we play or to ask people if there is anything we can pray for them. The first way I have noticed the beer mats helping us in the chaplaincy is that they serve as a great conversation starter. People are encouraged to write up their requests and stick them on the community board or to hand them to us. Last week we received 4 prayer requests and quite a number of positive comments about the beer mats and what we were doing.
The second way it helps is simply by raising our profile amongst those who we are seeking to help. It gives a sense of the chaplaincy being something thought through and of value. I’ve just hung out with a fairly large group of people talking about ‘what a good idea the beer mat thing is!’ It’s worth noting in this blog that my small team and I have met most Friday mornings for the past 2 years to serve and love those around us in the pub. We haven’t just tipped up asking if we could make beer mats, rather we have sought to be present and serve those around us, giving a safe place for people to talk and find help as well as ask questions about the Christian faith.
The third way the beer mats help is in letting others know about table talk. Admittedly we haven’t had scores of people join us, but we have had two or three people come along and find out more about us and us about them… It also provides a clear ‘reason’ for being there. In 2016 we shall be offering 2 more days of training for chaplaincy in your local Wetherspoon’s. Please message me if you are interested in joining us!