Amy Wileman, former Children and Families Pastor at St Mark’s Battersea Rise in London, shares how a fun airline-themed series helped the children in their church get to know their mission partners during the pandemic.
Engaging all ages
In March 2021, St Mark’s Battersea Rise in London hosted a series of lively, short, 30 minute service for families with young children full of songs with actions, skits and interactive prayers. Each family sat in their ‘bubble’ on a picnic blanket and received a brown bag with crayons, colouring and whatever was needed for the service.
These services were very popular with our young families and so that May we launched a series on our mission partners and the work they are doing in their respective countries.
We named the series ‘St Mark’s BattersAir’ as we were about to embark on an adventure around the world. To set the scene, we had someone dress up as the pilot and the rest of the team as air stewards. We entered the church from the back pushing a trolley and handing out the little brown bags just as real air stewards would, while a pre-recorded ‘safety’ video announced our entrance. We included music, images and a quiz from the chosen country each week so as to imagine we were actually there.
The aim of the series was to introduce our children to the work missionaries do around the world but also to explain that we can all be missionaries in our own country and hometowns. We wanted the children to walk away with the knowledge that a missionary is a person who travels around the world, telling people about God. And that quite often, a missionary stays in one place and makes that country home, but other missionaries spend time in different countries around the world.
The countries we ‘visited’ over the series were South Africa, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya and Nepal. We also spent some time talking about how difficult it can be talking to people about Jesus in London, yet it is what God has asked us to do.
Due to the pandemic, we’ve all become quite comfortable with Zoom and this really helped us interview our mission partners around the world.
We asked them the following questions:
• Where do you live?
• Why do you live there?
• What do you do in the community?
• How do you know St Mark’s?
• Do you have a favourite story from living in the country?
• Do you have a favourite Bible character?
When many people hear the word ‘missionary’, they immediately think of adventure – travelling to faraway places, fighting deadly diseases and animals and teaching unreached tribes about Jesus, but not so many missionaries live like this today.
Through the interviews we heard stories of what mission is like today and got ideas on how we can reach out to people in our city. Most of the children had no idea that we have mission partners in different countries and this series gave us the opportunities to tell them about the way in which we support them as a church by praying for them and giving them money so that they can continue the work they are doing with the people of those countries.
The response to St Mark’s Battersair was encouraging. The children surprised us with their questions and comments about how people around the world live. Each week we would link the content to Matthew 28:19; ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations And surely I am with you always’ to drive home the point that we are all called to step out and tell others about Jesus, no matter how young or old we are. Doing whatever God asks you to do is an exciting adventure. What could be more exciting than telling people who have never heard about Jesus that God loves them too?
Former Children and Families Pastor
St Mark’s Battersea Rise