Bringing Church to the Community
Send Evangelical Church is in a semi-rural village near Guildford in Surrey. What does evangelism look like in a large village setting like this?
We have always welcomed people into services and activities at Send Evangelical Church. In recent years though, I have been excited about some special events which have focused on bringing the church into the community.
The activities have really helped us to engage with the people of Send, and we hope to build on these opportunities so that people will come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Let me tell you about some of these events – maybe they will inspire you and your church with some ideas!
Using Public Events
Remember the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016? Well we celebrated with a lovely cream tea on the recreation ground, with a live band, free food and the Mayor of Guildford came and joined us for the occasion.
We handed out the booklet, The Servant Queen, and the King She Serves, and invited everyone to church the next day. We had a service thanking God for the Queen and for all who serve in the community, with a gospel message about Jesus who came not to be served but to serve – many non-churched people came along.
Halloween provided a great opportunity with a ‘Light Event’ – there were three ‘beacons’ in Send. We put up gazebos and lights, served hot dogs and hot chocolate and gave out tracts and glow sticks to the children. Balloons with ‘Jesus is the light of the World’ went into many homes that night.
For the World Cup we hired the village hall, had a free barbecue and invited the residents of Send to watch England play Panama on the big screen. Many people came and what a match it was as England scored six times! Someone thanked the church on behalf of the community for organising this event. As a result of the contacts made we had some good conversations and at least one couple came along to our Christmas carol service where they heard the gospel.
Last year the country was commemorating the end of the First World War. A project started in Send to knit poppies to make a display for the commemoration. Little did we know it would become a fantastic community project, bringing many together, young and old and especially lonely people who enjoyed taking part.
Six thousand poppies were knitted or made from felt. The church hall was used for assembling the displays and church members helped put them up around Send and provided refreshments for the events. Many came and participated.
I have been excited by all these events and seeing God working in them and also how it has helped our church members to get to know each other and work together as a team to run the events.
We have a monthly door to door work which allows us to follow up on our events with conversations on the doors.
Christmas is the ideal time to build on these relationships. On ‘Stir up Saturday’ we invited people to make Christmas puddings, providing all the recipe ingredients and methods. A short video was shown explaining the gospel. It was lovely to see everyone taking part.
The most exciting event was the ‘Christmas Carol Singalong’ at the Village Hall which was packed. We had the school choir singing, the local amateur dramatics doing a Christmas sketch and the barbershop group singing carols in four-part harmony. Someone even had the idea of a real-life Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. There was also a donkey! We had a great gospel message which was heard by many residents from across the village.
I have lived in Send for most of my sixty years and have had the privilege of working for 11 years for Send Parish Council (local government – not the church!). My office is at the Village Hall in the centre of the community. When you grow up in a village you really get to know and care about everyone (family, friends and colleagues) and I have been grateful to God for guiding me over the years and giving me the contacts and opportunities to help bring the church into the community.
So, if you’re in a large village community like Send, why not think about taking church to the people? Pray that God will inspire and guide you with ideas and opportunities for His glory.