There are not many things that would get young people up out of bed early on a Saturday morning and gather together in Coventry (I mean the getting up early bit - Coventry is a lovely place).
Yet the draw of Chris Duffett and his Big Hearted tour seemed to do the trick. 'It was great to see such a diverse group of young people involved in mission together,' commented Gale Richards, Project Development Worker and Regional Tutor.
HEBA (Heart of England Baptist Association) in partnership with YFC (Youth for Christ) and Saltmine, had organised an event for young people called 'LovCov' (Love Coventry) billed as a day for 'inspiration, training, encouragement and practice of mission'. It certainly was.
Chris began the day with the question, 'Are you Big Hearted enough to tell people what you've got?'. His message was that if this Jesus thing was so important to us, we'd make every effort to communicate it so that people get what we've got.
We'd also believe that it was possible for them to get it and that in order to do this we needed to be filled with the Spirit's power. Chris told us amazing stories of how when he met with people, they encountered just that little bit more of the Kingdom as he reached out with the love of God. God is powerfully at work when His people step up and step out.
Workshops around Street Theatre, Creative Mission, Rap, Village games and Social Action prepared teams not only for the afternoon activities, but also to take these ideas back to their churches.
What was clear is that there are so many different possibilities and strategies to get out there and meet with the communities around us, to cater for all sorts of giftings and ability, that there is no excuse not to!
Practice of Mission
The afternoon took us in different directions into Coventry to test out what had been imparted. The main purpose was just to connect with people to show them and tell them about God's love for them.
The Creative Mission group, under Chris's direction, took blackboards out with the name of Jesus written on the top, asking young people to write their names under it.
We wanted to engage people in conversation about it, understanding that there is no other name higher than Jesus and telling people why. We also walked the streets giving free food away, just loving people, engaging with them in conversation and inviting them back to a youth event later that evening.
What I found especially inspiring, was the way Chris was so coach-like, standing on the side-line, encouraging us, motivating us, telling us how great we were doing. It meant a great deal as we stepped out of our comfort zones and went for it.
The evening event went well, with young people being able to take part in an open mic session, listen to a band, experience more creative presentations from Chris, relax in a reflective space or just run around in the YFC Nomad football cage.
Although we didn't have loads of young people coming along to the evening event, so many of us were encouraged that some of those that we had conversations with in the day came along. They had a good time and felt comfortable enough to share their 'stuff' with us.
Adrian Argile regional minister of HEBA, who played a key role in making this event happen, commented - '#LovCov was a fantastic example of partnership - HEBA, Chris Duffett, YFC and Saltmine - in encouraging, training and practice of mission.
'It was a hugely creative day that enabled young people to be geared up for sharing faith today.'
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matthew 9: 35-38
Jason Borlase is the Youth Pastor at Hereford Baptist Church