Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Thursday Lunchtime Forums> Ideas to reach the city

I just wrote a little about being a Sydney Cabbie and about ministering in the City of Sydney HERE. Which leads me to this:

We are growing our Lunchtime Forums, which I am excited about. Last Thursday, I lead a ten minute 'brainstorm' on how this little group (90 on our email list, 40 who regularly come, 30 each week) could create a space where Christ could be honoured and proclaimed, and the Kingdom grown. Here is the results of the brainstorm. Of course, it is a work in progress.

  • Have more options
  • Perhaps breakfast time meetings
  • Make the venue more obvious and visible
  • Make use of the church's noticeboard
  • Catered lunch
  • Breakfast
  • Create a setting in which attendees feel anonymous
  • Have more public forums and open discussions
  • Create a name for meetings that help attendees to know that meetings are for them
  • Hand out of invitations 30 minutes before meetings
  • Train for existing participants on how to connect with and invite others
TOPICS (Focus on issues that intended participants face):
  • How do in my demanding schedules as city workers fulfill my roles and obligations to my spouse and children?
  • How do I as a boss get the most and best out of my workers?
  • How do our wives/ partners have their expectations met?
  • The Credit Crunch
  • Coping in the present climate
This is just a start. I'm looking forward to more discussion.

Want to add to the discussion? Comment away.

Pic by Bill Ruhsam.


Anthony Douglas said...

Not that I like playing devil's advocate...

What about topics that aren't all I-work-in-the-city-and-worry-about-the-mortgage?

It might be that some are heartily sick of thinking about all that 'reality' and would rather leave it behind at lunchtime. They might be more interested in parenting, leisure, pop culture, or whatever. Were I a city-worker, I'd be interested in escaping my job for an hour...

Just a thought, anyway. And I'm glad to hear it's going so well already!

PS - v. interesting to see a desire for anonymity. I wonder if that's really true, or whether it results from a false premise that real relationships aren't possible in this context. Hmm.

Mandy said...

We're thinking about some similar things with CBS on Tuesday lunchtimes, so this is really helpful.

Can I ask, who are the lunchtime forums for? Are they like City Bible Forum and designed to be primarily evangelistic? Or is it teaching for Christian workers? Or is this a false dichotomy?

What level of 'buy-in' is there from the people who are currently coming along? Are they committed to the lunchtime ministry and seeing it grow? Are they going to be involved in following people up etc?

During mission week before Easter, we had many of the MTS students out on the square chatting to people and inviting them to come along between 12 and 1pm - numbers were up by about 20 for that week. The presence outside and personal invitations made a difference to total attendance.

At the moment, at least at the south end of the city, it feels like there are so many opportunities, but it is really hard to work out how to make the most of them, how to follow people up well and establish them in church somewhere.

Turns said...

I think you want to avoid making it into another CBF. Many of those points listed sound a lot like CBF.

I'm also not sure if anonymity is a good thing. I'm anonymous on the train in the morning, at the food court at lunch, for some when they go home at night. I think people like being noticed - it reminds them that they actually do exist.

Justin said...

Hey all, thanks for commenting.

Anthony -- good call. I think, though, that we are very good at that -- our meetings not being about 'reality' (where 'reality' is defined as work, mortgage, handling the boss etc)

Mandy -- I would say that the bulk of people are Christian -- although not all. But I want it not to be 'in house'. Or a club. You have good thoughts. And yes! There are too many opportunities in the city.

Turns -- thanks for commenting. Why not make it look like CBF? I think that CBF are doing a great job, and emulating them may be something good. I'm not planning on doing that, for the record. I haven't yet thought about how we would differentiate (if at all) from CBF. But there are so many opportunities and so many lost people that 50 more CBFs would be very helpful! And also, there are people who come to us because they can't get to CBF in time. York St is in a different part of the city.

Re Anonymity -- It think that the point is that someone could feel anon if they wanted to. Thats true at CBF, I would have thought.

Any more thoughts?

Anthony Douglas said...

Just pushing back a bit - I'd have expected that you were countercultural in what you do with the 'reality' topics - I guess the question is whether this is obvious to the outsider or not. If they come, they'd get what they need, but they might stay away because they anticipate falsely...

Clifford Swartz said...

I've found humour to be a key to invitations, and always include a little youtube video clip in the postscript section of any invitation that goes out by email: clean humour, under two minutes, the more obscure the better -- helps guys know that it will be fun, which they might need to be reassured if the text of the invitation (being clear about the purpose being to dig into God's Word) makes the outsider assume otherwise.