Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quenching a Thirst

Last sunny Friday in Cambridge my sabbatical German friend Marlene and I headed off for St Philip's Anglican school to attend Thirst Cafe Church.  On arrival in the school lounge we found lots of mums, toddlers and babies drinking coffee and chatting.  Leaders Sue, Rachel and Ruth greeted us with warmth and offered us refreshments.  Sue explained that they were meant to be showing Rob Bell's Rhythm DVD but they couldn't find the TV so there may be a change of plan. She didn't seem the least bit fazed much to Marlene's surprise who told me later: "in Germany if this happened, it would be a catastrophe!" 

Thirst - doors
After about 20 minutes of chatting, drinking and eating, the TV appeared and we all settled down to hear Rob Bell.  I love Nooma as I always seem to hear something fresh no matter how many times I've viewed them.  Sue says they often repeat them because the (mostly) mums like and respond to them.  " I didn't want to get people to come to do things they didn't want to do or feel comfortable with and felt that a Nooma DVD was something that people could relate to. They did not have to make any kind of outward or verbal response to it if they did not want to. I was also determined that I wasn't going to start a discussion around the DVD subject. God surprised us again because we showed the DVD, and afterwards somebody visiting asked questions and began a discussion centred around faith. The conversation started and has been going ever since! We very, rarely direct these conversations. They just happen naturally and we discuss all manner of spiritual issues which often carry on long after Thirst is over and have helped to develop and nurture people in the faith."

And that's exactly what happened.  Rob Bell reminded us that we all play in the orchestra of life, it's just that sometimes we are out of tune.  People offered their views, some introducing their comments with "even though I'm not a Christian.....".

After this Sue asked who would like prayer and then prayed for people and annointed one of the participants with oil in preparation for an operation this week.  It all flowed beautifully.  Children pottered around, chatting, playing, eating while "church" happened.  No one tried to keep children quiet or still and no child caused any disruption.  Sue announced that there would be three baptisms next Sunday and invited all to bring a plate and join the celebration also taking place at the school. She reminded participants that they were invited to Alpha on Tuesday and Eucharist at Thirst Cafe Church next Friday.

And then the kettle was back on for another cuppa!

Sue explained to me that small groups have emerged out of Thirst.  There is also intentional pastoral care as leaders and participants find ways to support those in need.  One New Zealander loves to cook so teaches other mums how to cook healthy meals and snacks for their kids.   Another mum feels she can't contribute financially but loves to garden for others.  And prayer is always on offer!

"The Christians amongst us at Thirst became known as people who would pray for people if they wanted it. We would often pray with parents in the playground, many of whom had no idea what they were asking for. We would find that people would simply stand where they were, bow their head and expect us to pray on the spot. When I look back on that period now, I suppose it was a case of God gathering people because they began to get healed, come to faith, and wanted to know more about Christ and how he could transform lives. It was about discipling them through relationship because many of them did not have any links with traditional church at all and some had never entered the doors of a church. They then began to attend Thirst and are an integral part of us now."

Sue and her friends started Thirst Cafe Church "officially" in 2007 but says that it grew out of 11 years of relationships and prayer that all started with mums chatting outside the classroom while waiting for their children to come out.

"I went through a phase of being concerned about the views that some people inside the traditional church have of people outside of the church family. The question was asked of us, 'Why don't some of these (unchurched) people come to church?' My response was to wonder why on earth they would! The church is an alien environment for many nowadays. We ask, even expect people to come and sit on a pew and sing songs, followed by a talk or lecture (as they view it). Both of these activities are unusual for many who have never been to church before. I wonder, what on earth possesses us in church to think that others outside of the church might want to do that? It is the Church that is alien in our culture, we are the unusual one, the minority."

"I was talking to God about it and told him, 'It's no wonder people don't go to church.' I 'heard' the question, 'What would they come to then?' I thought of what we did as friends together: breakfast, drink coffee, pray together, laugh together, have relationship and support each other. I said to my friends, 'Let's keep on drinking coffee but, if it's going to be church, it has to have more to it than a coffee morning. It's about transforming the community that we live in through our relationships, and in the power of the Holy Spirit."

Thirst - DVD

"We don't know how Thirst will develop; we don't know what's around the corner. We are wondering about our next step but we know that we need to be obedient to God and follow his leading."
Thirst - food

1 comment:

  1. Ray Banのキャラバンブームは、20世紀の70年代に始まったそうだ。1973年、女性のファッションには、「毎日レイバン サングラスを着用してください」と主張したらしい。レイバン wayfarerが毎日でもかけたいあたしにとっては、むしろ理想な時代と呼びたい。