From the Pen of Rev Steve

Recent copies of the minister's letters from Rev Steve. These are reproduced from the monthly Newsletter.

January 2024: Creative, holistic, loving evangelism

From the Pen of Rev. Steve
There is no article from, Rev Steve this month. However, the following article is from the connexional team in Sidmouth regarding participation in the Folk Festival later in 2024.
Lost in Wonder

Creating a moment of connection in the midst of a busy festival

What did we do in Edinburgh?

We wanted to offer creative, holistic, loving evangelism into the context of the Edinburgh during Festival season. Together with a team from both the city itself and around the Methodist Connexion, we dreamt up ‘Lost in Wonder’ and took it to Edinburgh in August 2023 as a registered Fringe show. It included:
  • A sofa that we took with us around the city, inviting passers-by to sit with us and share their story;
  • Posters around the city inviting people to pause for a moment of wonder and fliers, handed out by the team, inviting people to be pause for a moment of wonder in the midst of the busy city;
  • A daily ‘event’ in a park in Edinburgh, right outside the Methodist Church, where we offered various creative activities to facilitate a moment of connection, stillness and reflection.
An important principle of ‘Lost in Wonder’ is that we’re not prosthelytising, we talk about our faith authentically as part of the conversation, but ultimately we are creating a sacred (safe and brave) space on the sofa, where we are prepared to see Jesus in the person sitting next to us, and we pray they will see Jesus in us. It is like spiritual direction but with non-Christians. We are offering a service of Holy Listening.

Some people talked about difficult things, some wanted to talk about surface level things. We allowed them to guide the conversation and asked gentle questions. At the end of every conversation we gave the person a small painting with a Bible verse on that a creative member of the team had made while they were talking. This was an important part of the offering; often the person felt a connection with the painting. God at work!

We learned that… people are DESPERATE to share their story. When the sofa was ‘parked’ on the Royal Mile, we often had queues of people waiting to take their place and talk to us. During five days, we had meaningful conversations with over 200 people – some of whom came back for a second conversation, and many who took away our fliers with details of our website. About a third of them were dealing with complex issues in their lives such as grief, addiction, or family breakdown.

The week had a huge impact on the volunteer team itself. Jon, one of the team in Edinburgh, said it was “One of the most amazing experiences of my life.”

How might this work in Sidmouth during Folk Week?

What could be easier, than taking a sofa out on the streets? All you need is a fairly light and easy to move sofa, ideally with some wheels attached to it, and a team of people willing to talk and listen. The website, branded posters and fliers, and umbrellas that the Edinburgh team used would all be available to use in Sidmouth. It’s an excellent way of engaging passers-by in conversation, whether they are visitors or local people, and gently – if appropriate – we can connect people with churches locally to them. If we run Lost in Wonder in Sidmouth for repeating years, there’s a chance you’ll see familiar faces, if people are Folk Week regulars, returning year on year. For these folks, we can be a consistent presence – we can be their church, perhaps the only church they’ll engage in all year.

How can Sidmouth Christians get involved?

We need three kinds of volunteers. Firstly, a core team of people who are willing to get involved with the planning, turn up every day during Folk Week, and get Lost in Wonder off the ground in Sidmouth. Secondly, a team of Holy Listeners – skilled conversationalists who can take shifts during Folk Week on the sofa, or around the sofa – talking and listening with love and care to the people they meet. Thirdly, some volunteers who are willing to help with logistics – perhaps with particular gifts, such as moving the sofa, painting images to give away, taking photos, doing social media or writing blogs, handing out fliers, and bringing teas and coffees to the other volunteers! The volunteers in this last group might not want to speak to members of the public, and that’s fine – we don’t all have those gifts, but they might also find as the week progresses that they’d like to give it a go!

Further reading
The Lost in Wonder in Edinburgh website is here: Lost In Wonder:

From the Pen of Rev Steve
Creating a moment of connection