A Saturday Book Table
Several members of the Cambridge Presbyterian Church have set up a book table in the city centre every Saturday morning with the aim of handing out leaflets and tracts, trying to engage people in conversation, encouraging people to consider Christ and the claims that he makes, and generally providing a point of contact for people who would otherwise have nothing to do with the church.
What’s a typical Saturday like?
10.00 A few people meet for breakfast at a Mill Road cafe.
11.00 Head for town in cars and on bicycles.
11.15 Two people set up the book table on the corner of the Market Square by the Guildhall. Everyone else goes to pray in Great St Mary’s Church.
11.30 – 1.30 Wait for people to show an interest/browse through the literature. Try to strike up conversations/invite people to ask questions and invite people to church. If it is cold or quiet, Sean ordinarily makes loud comments about passers-by and they sometimes stop. We also occasionally stand in the middle of the street passing out gospel tracts. If there are a lot of people helping out, a few of us might run some Saturday errands and swap back in. On a couple of occasions, Ian Hamilton and Sean Kinsella have done some street preaching with particular reference to current topical issues e.g. abortion. This is something we would like to do more often.
What literature do we have?
Bibles/New Testaments/Psalms in English, Turkish, French, German.
Small individual books of all 4 gospels in English.
Very short tracts with a variety of titles e.g. ‘Jason Robinson, on and off the pitch’, ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘How can I find peace?’
CDs with readings of John’s gospel and short explanations to go with them.
Longer booklets tackling specific topics, such as: evolution, suffering, the reliability of the Bible etc.
Booklets with testimonies of Muslims, Hindus, New-agers etc.
Copies of Ultimate Questions in many different languages.
We have a few things suitable for children, e.g. a silver coin with the 10 commandments embossed on it, and a tiny gold booklet with one Bible verse on each page.
We are always keen to hear of and look at anything that people think might be beneficial to have on the table.
A broad picture of the people that stop
A variety of nations are represented: Chinese, English, Poles, Ethiopian, Turkish. A variety of ages are represented: elderly people, just retired people, families, middle aged, young professionals, teenagers, children. A variety of backgrounds are represented: students, visiting scholars, alcoholics, au pairs, homeless people, charity workers, people with learning difficulties, tourists, English learners. People stop for a variety of reasons: they want to see what is free; they find religion intriguing; they want to know what a Presbyterian is; they are struggling Christians who want advice; they work nearby and are having a cigarette break; they have a Christian friend at work and have begun to question a few things; they have recently started reading the Bible/considering Christianity; they are very anti-Christianity and want to share their opinions; they want to know the way to the nearest McDonalds…
We find it tricky to read people and to know what the best words to say are. We are sinful and can easily get discouraged. We need prayer. The Lord promises to use our prayers to build his church and we long for more people to be found worshipping him.
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