Found myself in what is now a strange environment on Friday night - I was playing a set of songs live on a stage. Ok there were only about 45-50 there and were quite a friendly bunch, but it felt weird. St Paul's, Leamington Spa runs a event every two months called Café Create, which is a place anyone with any creative arts stuff can share it. They have had bands, poetry, an art exhibition, comedy and more. Mainly church-connected people present, but a very accessible event for someone who isn't involved. Explicitly Christian content is not the order of the day - it's about giving people a forum for sharing their talents in this area. (I think the term 'pre-evangelism' is required for those who need reassuring that it's not a distraction from proclaiming the gospel.)
Atmosphere was great - café style tables and lighting, ambient music DJ'd very ably by DJ 'jamin, and a small stage. Add to that a free Fair Trade bar (option to donate towards expenses available) and what more could you want? Audience age range from 18-60. Mainly younger end, but not exclusively, and was a good night out.
I said yes to playing a few songs, as I was visiting anyway, as I used to do that sort of thing quite a bit at one time. What threw me a bit was how nervous I ended up feeling beforehand. Anyway, all seemed to go OK, and I was on first, which spared me a long nervous wait. Great fun. After me came comedy, a poem written in situ by Steve, heard about Caroline's (one of the comperes) next move, and more music from Jonathan and Ross, ending with an awesome rendition of American Pie (all the verses)
What I am starting to wonder is how we could do something like this in Lancaster, with a church/churches on board and also draw in students as audience and participants. The ethos would not be to have tracts and earnest conversations, but just a good place to be, to meet up, to talk and to take part. After all, if people get to know the church community through a common experience, they might actually trust us enough to listen to what we stand for...