Inspired by a year working with Metro Ministries in New York, Barry and Camilla Johnston are connecting with non-churched children and youth in their area by going to where they are.
Every Saturday for eight months of the year (spring/summer/autumn), they take their yellow Sidewalk van to the same local park where local children gather to play. The team run an hour of activities that include songs, games, a memory verse, a drama based on a Bible story, three object lessons and a life lesson (cartoon story tying it all together). Though aimed at the children, parents and older siblings tend to watch from the back. Some are increasingly helping in minor roles and making suggestions of what would make it better.
For all the children they befriend, appropriate longer-term discipleship of those who want to know more about the Christian faith is one that the Sidewalk community takes responsibility for. They make regular visits to the families of the children that come and are starting to look to establishing a community house as a base for some who are involved.
The Sidewalk community who facilitate this ministry meet weekly for food and fun. They meet in the park to continue to build relationships with families there and then gather in a team member's home. In terms of the fresh expressions journey, they are now preparing for the stage of what kind of worship will sustain them. What kind of deeper spiritual disciplines or input is appropriate for the community that is made up of seasoned Christians, new Christians and not yet Christians that all play a part in making Sidewalk happen?
Being a multi-cultural area, they have found many of the kids coming to Sidewalk are from Muslim families. As cross-cultural mission engagement with Muslim children and their families is not common, there are limited resources available for this kind of ministry. Therefore, they are pioneering something very precious and learning as they go.