While most of Britain huddled indoors during the severe weather of early winter, one brave group aims to get out on the streets. They are participants in 'Streetwise', a course which began this month and equips them in presenting the good news of Jesus.
Lectures, workshops, creative approaches and practical outreach will help individuals develop their potential. St John's Church in Stratford, which proved a strategic base for outreach during the Olympics and Paralympics, is the venue. In order to accommodate those with busy schedules, the course takes place one Saturday a month for six months.
Headed by the OAC Ministries (Open Air Campaigners) London team of evangelists, 'Streetwise' offers the opportunity to develop individual skills and work in teams.
'A professionally run, interesting, practical and really fun course,' commented one person who completed 'Streetwise' last year. Experienced evangelists offer their professional expertise in subjects ranging from theology to elements of evangelistic preaching. With creative means such as painting to illustrate messages, the course definitely proves interesting.
Also, practical experience is gained as participants work with local teams drawn from different churches. Those who take part develop their individual skills as well as experiencing the supportiveness of team work.
When asked to comment on the element of fun, OAC UK Director Peter Kennelly responded, "Laughter aids listening and helps learning. Used correctly, humour can ease tension and open up a person to interact with what we have to say.
"If our students on the course have fun whilst they are learning to do something that, let's be honest, is a really nerve-wracking thing like preach on the street then they will be all the better prepared for the task.
"If our hearers on the street experience us use humour correctly, it will relax them and encourage them to stay with us, listen to the proclamation of the gospel and speak with us afterwards."
An important aim of the course is that those with leadership potential can return to their local church with sufficient know-how and confidence to form a team. Then, they are enabled to lead it out into their local community using appropriate methods of evangelism. To this end, participating churches often send sponsored candidates to 'Streetwise'.