Back in December, we set up a stall as part of the Shirley Market. “We were well out of our comfort zone” was the general consensus!
Whilst hundreds came to our church services at Christmas, thousands didn’t. This was church inside out – giving people an opportunity to encounter the Christmas hope. The stall offered a ‘question of the week’ to help prompt conversations: what is your favourite Christmas carol? What does Christmas mean to you? What do you really want for Christmas?
A smaller feature was the ‘Say one for me’ postbox: shoppers were invited to write a prayer request, which we then included in our Sunday services.
As with any market stall, many people just walked by, but some appreciated the opportunity to chat. “I had two conversations with people who just seemed to need to tell someone that they were having a rubbish time of it,” said Cherida. Michael added, “I was encouraged to have a couple of longer conversations with people who were interested to talk about faith” (which was quite comical to watch as he was wearing reindeer antlers at the time!).
Heather was able to chat to a lady with Alzheimers, valuing her as a special person, whilst another team member chatted with her rather exasperated husband. Dan was able to chat with an ex-convict who’d grown up in church, and reassure him that ex-cons are very welcome still.
Would we do it again? Possibly - we’d make some changes and maybe link more obviously to some of our mission focus areas. Sue commented, “it was worth it for the few heartfelt conversations and for time with people from church.”
“I felt God put the right words in my heart and mouth to use. I felt passionately that God wanted us to be there,” said Jayne.
“I felt passionately that God wanted us to be there.”