The first Challenger Community Outreach Bus is on the road, so to speak. It was transported up to the Isle of Lewis last week, arriving there on Good Friday!
The purpose of the Community Outreach Buses differs from that of the other Challengers, in that they are not used for Religious & Moral Education classes in schools, nor for running kids’ clubs and youth missions. Rather, the Community Outreach Buses are designed to operate within specific neighbourhoods on a regular basis, building up relationships with people in that local community, providing a hub where local people can come to talk, or get support if needed. It can work like a mobile ‘drop in’ facility.
These buses can also be located in town centres late at night where young people congregate, especially at weekends. This is another method whereby the Church can “go into all the world and preach the Gospel”, rather than waiting for the world to knock on its front door.
The potential for such tools has been seen by churches in the Western Isles, but also by the local police who can see the benefits of the bus visiting certain housing estates in Stornoway, for example.
The second Community Outreach Bus is due to go live in and around Perth next month. The layout of these vehicles is deliberately relaxed and informal, allowing people to come in to an inviting and friendly atmosphere for chat and a coffee. Downstairs is open plan with bench seating, so small groups can come on board and have discussions with team members. The Gospel is illustrated in simple graphic form, which can help stimulate conversation.
Upstairs has a coffee lounge, and a presentation area with a computer and flat screen TV, allowing for viewing of DVDs with a Christian message. As well as trusting that the Lord will use these vehicles as effective evangelistic tools, it is hoped that they can act as a catalyst to get various churches within a town to work together for the sake of the Gospel, building unity in the body of Christ.
It is Pastor Merv’s desire to see a whole fleet of Community Outreach Buses operating all over Scotland, to the glory of God.