What if churches spent one Sunday a month or term ‘out.’ What if the majority of people who don’t attend a church service would encounter church in pubs, cafes, parks or the streets. What if morning services were used to engage with people and love people who wouldn’t consider going to Church? I have a hunch that more and more people would have an opportunity to encounter Jesus and hear, perhaps for the first time, the good news about him.
Sunday out started with a V.I.P only red carpet. We then had a listening sofa, then did music on the streets, lots of giveaways and painting too. For around 48 Sunday mornings over the past 5 years we have met thousands of people and shared good news in different ways.
Each month we use very simple ways to meet people and gently share something of the Christian faith with people who have yet to hear or understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
I am greatly encouraged that more and more churches are engaging creatively with their communities and taking the efforts and expense of gathering as church to be ‘church in action’ in public. Here is an example of an annual Sunday Out that churches in Huntingdon do. an annual beach party!
Here are some of our favourite things that we have done once a month on the streets of Peterborough and some other towns and cities too:
Saints on the street
I wrote this poem while sitting in a busy Asda supermarket café on a Sunday morning back in 2010. It’s when the idea for Sunday Out came to me!
Sunday morning and two brothers struggle to keep up with their dad,
They trot behind their marching hero, who is in urgent pace,
Quickly up the aisle closer towards the beeping, busy check outs.
A harsh word and now the young legs canter close behind,
Despite their daddy being weighed down, burdened by two over large crates of caustic beer.
His t-shirt declares ‘also available in sober.’
It feels like these aisles are a million miles away from the ones lined with hard wooden pews or padded chairs, of kids songs and Jonah and the whale.
Sunday morning and multitudes scurry, locked out of the Sabbath celebrations.
They are barred through their lack of know-how, know-what and when, hangover-yawns or too busy, or can’t be bothered or, or, or,
Irrelevancy cloaks the stone cold spacious sanctuaries,
Of course they are welcome but the invitation goes un-said and any welcome is hidden away, quiet and only hushed to those who already are in.
Sunday morning, people, people everywhere but not a quenching drink of the Spirit in sight.
Sunday Sabbath day, shopping day, busy day, kids driving me up the wall day, chasm from 10.30 family service day.
Yet, how will the sacred scarred healing hands reach out to those who are bereft of Messiah comfort unless Saints meet,
Face to face with the public, in public in the parks, shops or street?