So today consisted of me sitting in the upper-hall at church for 8 hours! As I’m sure you can sympathise the thought of getting up and being out of the house by 8.45 on my day off was by no means attractive!
However, having made a commitment to serve alongside Stockton town pastors (read more about them here) it was necessary for me to receive the training in order to be more informed of my role and to have a better grasp of how practically this is worked out.
While initially not being all that excited at the prospect of being stuck in a room for pretty much the whole day, I’ve come away with a completely different view of what town pastors are involved in and have been blessed through spending time with a whole variety of people who want to show the compassion of Christ out in their communities.
Here are three observations i made of the day.
1. One of the first things that struck me today was the diverse group of people who God has drawn into this particular ministry. Considering that the hours of a street pastor range between 10pm until 3am it was a shock to learn that the eldest member of the team has just turned 80! Yet what a heart this lovely lady has for going out and loving her community where it is needed. The added beauty of this great bunch was the range of denominations represented and the heart they each shared for showing the gospel in action. It was a real reminder to me that despite our differences we all have the same head of the church, Jesus. Sat at the back of the room i couldn’t help but smile, as looking at this group was just a little glimpse of the great multitude that will be worshiping God in heaven.
2. I was challenged by the reality and responsibility of street pastoring. By nature I’m probably more of a “doer” and like to practically help people as much as possible. Sometimes this leaves me rather frustrated as being human there isn’t often a lot i can do! Listening in to those who gave testimony of street pastoring and the vulnerable people they have met it dawned on me how possibly street pastoring could be more frustrating and trying than I’d expected. While not wanting by any means to tarnish everyone with the same brush, it is likely that some of the people we meet are out on the town as a way to “escape” as it were from their realities. From hearing stories from current town pastors it seems that on occasion they find themselves being the ones who these people choose to disclose things to or share their worries with. The frustration for me then will occur when actually there is not much i can do to practically help them. My immediate reaction is to want to “fix people” and solve all their problems. Ultimately i know that only Jesus can really heal and fix the real hurts of these people’s lives and as such this puts us in a great position. Whilst initially we can offer assistance and signpost these people to some great organisations who are specialised we can also lift them up to our heavenly father, whether this be on request from an individual or in the quiet of our hearts, who cares so much more for these people.
3. There was lots of yummy food and plenty of tea breaks! (Always a win!)
Overall: Challenged and excited to get out on the streets along with my fellow pastors and see Him move.