IDEAS

CHURCH CAFE

"It is exactly 12 months since we opened our doors, launching our "Good News Cafe". We pinched the name (actually we asked their permission!) from Exeter Ecclesia who have been successfully running a cafe for a few years now.

The vision is simply to be a vibrant, active presence in our local community, (our"glowing" if you like- this idea was discussed at the Big Conversation), building relationships both with our local community and also with each other within our church by doing something together as a team. This may enable us to talk about who and what we are having grown a relationship with whoever happens to come through our doors (the"sowing"). It was always very clear from the start that our prime focus is meeting people's needs not preaching. Our actions are our preaching by simply showing love to others. All refreshments (all home made cakes and filtered coffee and tea) are free of charge, there are little money boxes on the tables with our 4 nominated charities(2 Christadelphian, 1 national charity and one local charity)listed on the side if people wish to contribute. We change these 4 charities annually. Last year we raised about £200 which we divvied up in equal amounts.

Initially it took a lot of planning and organisation. I realised that the commitment of regular helpers is a big ask (it needs at least 4 with set up and clear up)and it was important to be quite detailed about how it was going to run in order to get people on-board- this had to be balanced with us all "owning" the project enabling others to suggest ideas and changes as we went along. 

We piloted 6 sessions over 3 months and this has evolved into regular bi-monthly cafes on the first and third Tuesday each month from 10.30-12.00. Because we were already building some relationships with one or two visitors, there was no question but to carry on.We launch advertised through local billing (thank Jack for the design...), our website (which is undergoing redesign with Jack's input) Face Book (search for "Good news cafe") and word of mouth. There is a regular team of helpers ( all retired except me!) some of whom have been rather on the fringes so it has been great to see them getting involved. It couldn't continue to run without their commitment. We also have some great cake makers who all willingly provide on a rota basis for each cafe. 
It is quite an effort to set up each time as we have to use the main hall, happily folk seem to slip into their preferred roles be it chair moving, fixing the external banners, getting the coffee machines on or doing the little flower vases for the tables...

We  have had regular visitors since the start, both young (with children and babies) and not so young. The nursery nurses across the road regularly bring a contingent of pre-schoolers who are happy to sit and colour and chat. There is music playing in the background and also we are just trying to fix up the CALS short soundless videos now we have wi-fi, a jigsaw on the go, some knitters and toys out for any tiddlies. We have a few regular grown up visitors, one of whom has attended some of our Sunday services and midweek bible class. Over all I would estimate that we have met at least 25-30 local folk through the door which is 100% more than we did before the cafe was set up! "

HOT MEALS

"Guildford is not unlike many of our churches who have a membership distributed over a wide area and mainly comprising of 70+ year old members. However what has happened over the last couple of years is fantastic. In helping the homeless it has brought our meeting together with a real purpose it has also involved the willing help of partners and children who are not Christadelphian and has also raised our profile in the community. Our oldest helper who is our chief 'washer up ' is 90 years old. What it has meant is that people who thought they couldn't be involved in project like this have found ways of helping."

GARDENING & CHARITY WORK

"I'm so pleased that you are doing this work. As a community we have been too inward-looking for too long. In December 2015 Kendal was devastated by Storm Desmond and many 100s of homes were flooded, including the poorest area of the town. The local churches went into action and provided a response which was impressive, and a great witness to our faith. Sandylands Methodist Church was flooded, but rented a Portakabin and set up an emergency and 'encouragement' centre; St George's Church organised hot meals two days a week and the Catholic Church did the same on the other two days; the Salvation Army helped with the cooking, as did a parishioner who owns a local hotel; the United Reform Church opened its doors to rough sleepers as the local hostel had been flooded. King's Church graciously allowed me to work for them, even though they knew I was a Christadelphian heretic! I helped to operate the Flood Relief Centre, which provided a food bank, bedding, clothing, towels, toys (it was Christmas), cleaning materials and help with claiming for the various grants. I also spent a lot of time listening and sometimes praying with people at the end of their endurance. In the following summer a group of South Lakes Christadelphians spent a day gardening, distributing 'Pots of Joy' - spring bulbs and pansies and painting the outside of a house on Sandylands. As an ecclesia, we haven't been involved in a 'corporate' way with projects but individuals are working for MIND, The Alzheimer's Society, RVS, SightSavers, and Space2Create: an art project for people with mental health problems. My wife Sue helps with the dementia group, 'Singing for the Brain'. It seems to me that this would be an ideal project for an ecclesia." 


28 OUTREACH IDEAS
Here is a small sample of what you can do. We shall be adding to this and welcome your ideas too.

  1. Rent your hall to the community 
  2. Church café- serve cake 
  3. Community choir
  4. Homeless charity work
  5. Sponsor a local care home
  6. Mums and tots
  7. Coffee mornings
  8. Foodbank donation
  9. Helping hands- local practical help
  10. After school and breakfast clubs
  11. Allow locals to use your car park during the week
  12. Christmas Day meal
  13. Student vouchers
  14. Homeless coffee voucher
  15. Community lunches or Saturday breakfasts
  16. English speaking classes
  17. Knit & Natter group
  18. Sales for charity
  19. Soup kitchen
  20. Packing shopping in local supermarket
  21. Holiday club
  22. Free car washing
  23. Timebank
  24. Foodbank
  25. Prayer sessions- invite locals in to be prayed for.
  26. Car boot sales
  27. Summer street party
  28. Christmas meal
Skills outreach- what skills are in your ecclesia and how can you share them?
Gardeners? Gardening groups
Musicians? Choral group
Chefs? Cookery classes
Teachers? Extra  tuition
Crafters? Craft group
Fitness? Aerobics class
Support workers? Classes on grief, addictions, mental health

IT? Computer training days