Issue 5: Church Army
Getting stuck into the needs in your local area can be a key to changing the Church’s image, says a new campaign called Get OUT More
Trainee Church Army evangelist Lizzie Wallace led a holiday weekend with a difference in Sheffield last year – cleaning.
Lizzie took a team of Christian workers and around 40 local young people to help clean up their local community in Streetreach @ Wadsley 2005.
Joined by Peter and Jade Watson of The Wilson Carlile College of Evangelism, Lizzie took her own brand of faith power on to the streets of Sheffield. Each morning began with breakfast and prayer and morale was maintained through Bible study, hot chocolate and biscuits, and a fantastic pizza praise party to round off a tiring but very rewarding weekend.
By night, the team camped out on the floor of Wadsley Parish Church in sleeping bags, and by day they were to be found picking up rubbish, discarded needles, clearing alleys and helping in local residents’ gardens to bring a touch of practical Christian love and concern.
Hundreds of cakes were baked and personally delivered to local parishioners and given away to people in the local park. Toys were spring-cleaned for the local toddler group, and some people even made requests for prayer when they realised the team were Christians and not a crack council cleaning unit.
Lizzie comments: "We focused on demonstrating practical Christian love and concern for our area through action. We’ve had some very positive comments and have been delighted in the interest shown – people are really surprised that the Church cares enough to get its hands dirty. We are grateful to Onyx and Streetforce who provided us with specialist cleaning materials to ensure we carried out our task safely."
Local resident Mavis Booker (75) described herself as being ‘knocked out’ by the efforts put in by Lizzie and the team: "Lizzie is such an encouraging personality and has inspired the young people of the parish to make such a difference. We are still talking about how helpful they have been - it’s so good to have something positive to say about young people these days."
After three days of solid graft, mother of five Lizzie commented: "It's so encouraging to hear from people about just how much of a success Streetreach has been. Whoever would have thought that cleaning up streets and baking cakes could be such a blessing? It proved to be a real witness.”
Get OUT More ... Can you be a church without walls?
With statistics showing that two-thirds of the population believe the pub has more to offer the community than the church, and twice as many young people believing in horoscopes than the Bible, Church Army is encouraging the Church to Get OUT More.
Get OUT More is the theme for Church Army Sunday on 24 September 2006, as the mission agency aims to help churches develop an effective daily Christian presence in the pub, the cinema, lunch clubs and other community-focused activity. This new range of material developed by Andrew Wooding supplements action sheets produced by Activate covering pampering and chocolate parties and reading groups.
Using Acts 16:11-15 and a leap of imagination that involves your church building being struck by lightning, Peter Graystone’s new FREE guide for home groups explores how to be a mission-shaped people in a church without walls. There are also prayers and an outline sermon available to help explore the theme within a more traditional church service context.
Peter comments: “Jesus called us all to be His witnesses. But, for many of us, this isn’t easy – especially in the rapidly changing world in which we live. The materials we have produced are designed to help you walk alongside those that you meet in your daily life, and share something of your faith in a way that is relevant to your companions and not threatening to either of you.”
Philip Johanson, Church Army’s Chief Secretary adds: “We are always looking to find new ways for parishes to be ‘mission-shaped’, enabling them to have a sharper cutting edge in their mission activities. We believe that the materials we have produced provide congregations with some practical guidance.”
For more information on Get OUT More and to download FREE resources and register your support, check out www.churcharmy.org.uk/gom or call 020 8309 3519.
What others have had to say about Get OUT more:
"ChurchArmy is at the forefront of initiatives in evangelism which involvelocal churches engaging with their communities. I pray that this focusto Get OUT More will receive widespread support and encourage churchesin their own outreach."
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
"I'mthrilled to support Get OUT More … Encouraging Christians to enjoybuilding relationships and drawing closer to people, which willeventually bring opportunities to share appropriately about God's lovein a very natural way. I pray you will prove the reality of this as youlaunch out with new initiatives and ideas in September.”
Fiona Castle, Chairman of Activate
"We are well aware of how effective Church Army is in helping ourchurches build valuable bridges into the community ... let's thank Godfor Church Army and the theme of Get OUT More."
Rt Revd Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe
“Usethe day with an event to reach out and let people know that the Churchof God is alive and welcoming and has some good news to tell them. Andof course let us give when we can and pray for the continuing work ofChurch Army.”
Rt Revd Dr Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham
"GetOUT More is a real reminder to all parish churches of their need to beavailable to their local community, within their local community and aspart of their local community. The practical tips, fact sheets andstudy notes on the Church Army website will be helpful resources withinour diocese."
Rt Revd Martin Wharton, Bishop of Newcastle