16 September 2014
Summer success in Sidcup for HOPE14
Churches in Sidcup have had a successful summer of outreach through their summer festival Lark in the Park in conjunction with HOPE14.
The initiative began just over 18 years ago when New Generation Church in Sidcup put up a gazebo in the local park. "We had three days of mission," says the church's leader Paul Weston, "however, the local community was not especially interested and we realised we were simply replicating what went on in the church on Sunday. It was kind of irrelevant. Some local mums suggested we run a kids' club in the park which we did and that started an explosion of what became Lark in the Park."
The festival consists of activities across the park for every age group, from pre-school children to senior citizens. "It's not just for two weeks," adds Paul. "Events are ongoing throughout the year. People are hearing about Jesus and are being encouraged to become part of what we're doing here."
Around 2,000 people attended the festival every day. In addition to the various activities, the sick were prayed for and people took away the Active Service Gospel of John, produced in commemoration of the start of World War 1.
HOPE14 encourages churches to reach out to their communities throughout the year. This year, they tied in the biblical theme of greater love and laying down our lives for others with the sacrifices made in World War 1, as the world commemorated the start of the war one hundred years ago.
"The HOPE14 initiative and greater love theme just plugged in with what we were doing. It was a great mechanism to get other churches involved," said Paul. "We've been using the John's gospels and have actually run out We've given out about a thousand so far and are hoping for more. It's been great for the church to see the theme of greater love and laying down our lives come alive in local mission."
Roy Crowne director of HOPE14 says: "All summer churches have been making links with people in their communities. We've been thrilled by the number of summer festivals and fun days churches have run. The Sidcup festival is an amazing model. Every day through the festival, people who don't go to church have had the opportunity to meet a follower of Jesus and to find out more about the difference Jesus makes.
"Now's the time to invite the people we've met to Harvest suppers –and it's time to plan Silent Night Carols events. Join with us as we pray that thousands of people will become Jesus' followers in the next four months."