ISBN 9 781 786 224828
How do we reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ? That is a question that has occupied the minds of Christians for two millennia. This is a particularly challenging task as we move toward the quarter century mark of the 21st Century. The contemporary world is changing rapidly in the way it thinks, feels and communicates; blink and half a generation of fresh trends have passed us by.
Martin Poole suggests that the church ought to regain a sense of urgency concerning reaching others with its life-transforming message. The author advocates an approach that does not only depend on inviting others to enter our spaces but one that is willing to step into their spaces to reach those who do not darken a church doorway.
In this readable book the author offers some suggestions of how to use public spaces to meaningfully engage others with the good news. One of the best known of these approaches is the Beach Hut Advent Calendar, which over a 11-year period used 24 beach huts on Hove seafront in East Sussex to tell the story of Advent and Christmas.
Perhaps one of the most interesting points about this and the other forms of outreach showcased in this book is the willingness to listen to people and attempts to involve people in the process; not all the beach hut owners were card carrying Christians. This meaningful contact with the local community is a valuable way of building relationships while pointing people to the living God, who might be at work among them in ways that we and they are unaware of.
This book is worth reading as a pump primer for stimulating creative thinking about how to communicate the Christian message to those, who might not otherwise be interested.
Readers might not live in a place like Brighton and Hove that is so open to innovation (but also not always friendly to the Christian message), nor will many readers have the background and contacts of the author, who before he became a vicar worked as a TV producer.
Nonetheless, this is a book packed with ideas on how any church can think creatively about their local situation, and find cracks in public spaces where the light can shine through.
John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is Director of Training at the School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia.