Blessed are the Tea Makers

It all began with the school run. Having dropped my eldest son off at school, the short journey to work would take me past the grounds of another local school. Day after day, I observed weary parents waiting dejectedly on the asphalt as they were battered by the elements. Each time I passed, I was amazed that no one was really talking to one another. That didn’t seem quite right to me.

Over time, I to brew an idea; if anything could bring these parents together, it’s the good old British cuppa. I arranged a meeting with the Headteacher and shared my observations and idea – a team of volunteers from the church and community working with a key worker to give out hot drinks on the playground before or after school, Pop Up Cuppa was born.

The vision for Pop Up Cuppa has always been about relationships – facilitating relationships within the community, building relationships between the church and community and developing great relationships between the schools and the church.

With the simplicity and the efficacy of the initiative, we were armed with little more than a couple of flasks of hot water, a bumper pack of teabags and packets of biscuits, this small team of volunteers are being used powerfully by God to transform their community, simply by engaging and putting relationships first.

I recall one of the parents who have begun to engage with other church activities and gain the confidence to take on leadership roles. The story of one parent who, through the relationship that began over a cuppa, has felt empowered to return to education.

The team began with one local primary school, once a month. 18 months on, we now pop up in three schools once every three weeks or so. The schools have been enthusiastic about the impact of Pop Up Cuppa, with one noting how there has been no fighting between parents on the playground since the project began; fighting among parents had previously been a particular challenge to the school. Another of the schools have even approached us for the church’s help with pastoral support for some of the parents and pupils.

Building Community
Blessed are the Tea Makers

Inarguably, Pop Up Cuppa is having a hugely positive impact on the community and it strikes me that it is a hugely replicable project; We would love to see parishes across Church of England Birmingham pulling out their urns for the sake of the gospel.

If you are interested in having a go in your parish here are a few tips:

  • Always have a key worker from the school with you. It is a joint project and this helps foster buy-in from the school. Make this part of your initial arrangement with the school.
  • Recruit volunteers who are great conversationalists. Remember this is primarily about relationships. It is essential to have team members who won’t shy away from a good chat with parents and pupils (although, being able to make a cracking cuppa helps too).
  • Seek engagement from the wider community. In which ways can people and business locally support the project. We never has to pay for the drinks or biscuits, these are funded by a local funeral directors, whose manager has caught the vision.
  • Be ready for people to engage with other church activities. Don’t sit back and wait for hundreds of families to flood into your Sunday morning service; this is unlikely to be the next logical step for those showing a deeper interest in involvement. What will you be inviting people to next?
  • Get your hands on a gazebo if you can – it will really help when the weather is less desirable. Failing that look for somewhere with a bit of shelter.

Andi Thomas is a pioneer minister at St Andrew’s Church in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham. To find out more click here.

 

Working Class Culture and Ministry Resources

Are you looking for resources for and insights into estate ministry? Joe Hasler is a parish priest with  25 years’ of experience of living and working on estates. He has also worked for 17 years as a community development worker.

Some of his work can be downloaded from the list below:

1. Mind Body Estates Booklet

This is Joe’s research into the rich patterns of working class life and culture.

6 A-Community-of-Brokenness

This is a testimony of how working class leaders raised themselves up on an estate in Bristol.

8. Estate-Based-Learning-for-Ministry

This is Joe’s research into how working class leaders have been raised up and formed on estates.

7. Trusting-Indigenous-Ministry

Joe’s thoughts on the need for the wider churches to trust that God is at work in the wisdom of working class leaders.

If you would like to read more about Joe’s thoughts please visit

….Welcome

 

Parish Priest
Joe Hasler an estate church priest

Missional Youth Church Network

 

Mission Youth Church Network has a  vision is to establish at least 30 Missional Youth Churches (MYC) over the next five years. This will enable 11-18 year olds to build a community and discover faith in Jesus Christ. Local schools and colleges, churches and community projects will work together in partnership to do church with this generation. Youth leaders and volunteers will become part of a wider learning network accessing training, encouragement and support for one another as they build for the future.

Missional Youth Church Network
Missional Youth Church Network

Click on the link below to download the latest newsletter.

MYCN Newsletter Autumn_Winter 2019 Final

If you would like to find out more about Missional Youth Church Network please visit https://www.archbishopofyorkyouthtrust.co.uk/mycn

Urban Life Cultivating Mission

Urban Life is a Christian organisation that has developed learning programmes to help groups reflect more deeply on their mission. The programmes are designed for people who work in urban areas and on the estates.

Groups meet to learn and reflect theologically on their practice and the encounters they have had. A Masters Degree programme is also available.

Urban Life
Urban Life

Urban life currently have spaces available on Experiments in Mission in the East Midlands with a taster session on the 13th February 2020 and a full start in March. Please click here for more details.