September 2018

Summer in Scarborough

Travelling from Sheffield to Scarborough on a dull & slightly rainy Sunday at the end of August to spend the week in the town centre trying to speak to people about Jesus, you couldn’t help but wonder what you’d let yourself in for… what would the week ahead hold? Would the people of Scarborough actually want to stop and talk? Would we have the courage to share the gospel with them if they did? Well, it turns out that, by the grace of God, both of those things did happen in even more significant ways than we could have hoped or imagined at the start of the week.

As we (Chris Houghton and Andy & Judith Stovell from Christ Church Central, Sheffield) joined a young and growing Trinity Church Scarborough as they set aside a week for evangelism in their town centre we discovered the great joy of partnering with another church family in mission. Though the whole team started out with a sense of anxiety and apprehension, particularly the several members of the team who had never done street evangelism before, the Lord grew us in faith, gave us the courage we needed and brought us the great joy of having many opportunities to speak to people about our mighty Saviour.

What did we do?
We met as a team each morning for some bible encouragement, prayer and evangelism training. We thought about the kinds of questions people ask and how to answer in ways that appropriately and respectfully bring it back to main thing: Christ crucified for sinners. Then headed out into the main precinct and a local market hall for two 2 hour sessions of contacting.

We had a literature/resources table and a banner asking “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?” We encouraged people to put their question on a post-it note on a board and then sought to graciously explore their questions and objections.

Of course many passed by and didn’t engage, but some did. We were surprised at how many did! And although lots of people didn’t stop to talk, many gladly took flyers (inviting them to engage with the basics of the Christian faith through the Essentials video) and a free copy of the Essentials book.

As Trinity Church Scarborough’s assistant minister, Rob Tearle, who coordinated the week, rightly reflected at the end of the week:

“The number of meaningful conversations was more than I can remember in a single week on any mission I have done before and we pray that many people will come a step closer to entrusting their lives to our King and Saviour Jesus,”

Please do join us in praying for the many locals & holiday makers who we connected with during the week. Do be praying that by the sovereign mercy of God, the conversations that were had and the resources we gave out wouldn’t be forgotten but engaged with, and be bringing new life to those who are currently dead in sin.

What did we learn?
The genius of such weeks is that there is nothing particularly clever about it! People are hurting and burdened by sin and its consequences and are looking for answers. A warm and sensitive approach while offering attractive literature can be the beginning of their journey to Christ.

If you remain passionately committed to evangelism, so will the people you serve and if you lead in evangelism by being out there, people will follow. One of the notable aspects of the week was Trinity Church’s ministers Lee McMunn and Rob Tearle didn’t just mobilise their congregation to do the work of evangelism, they led by daily example and were out there in the precinct, booklets in hand, engaging in gospel conversations.

So, we have returned to Sheffield eager to establish regular street evangelism in our city. It’s catching! We have also returned excited about the partnership we have in the gospel, expressed practically through churches enjoying the mutual benefit of being involved in mission with one another. What about other churches running a similar week and inviting others to join them? Maybe this will set you thinking, ‘why would we not do this too?’ It’s not difficult to run. But it does demand courage. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is eager to supply that in great measure.

Andy Stovell (Outreach Worker, Christ Church Central Sheffield) &
Chris Houghton (Associate Minister, Christ Church Central Sheffield)