Our aim was to enable people from around Colchester to engage in a conversation about four key issues:
- Connecting the whole gospel with the whole school
- Connecting churches, young people and youth leaders
- Colchester – becoming a disciple making town
- Connecting people with the life and work of CYO
The main area of the church building we were using had been set up with small tables covered with paper, each surrounded by six chairs. As people arrived they were greeted and served tea / coffee and nice cakey things and encouraged to sit at a table. After a brief introduction and explanation of the evening from Amy and me, people went to whichever table corresponded to the issue they were interested in and started chatting. People were encouraged to write ideas or draw diagrams and sketches on the paper. After about ten minutes we did a short interview with someone who had been impacted by our work and then got people to move around and get into a second conversation.
After another interview and another round of conversations we gave everyone ten minutes to mill around and take in what had been discussed over another coffee before inviting people to feedback any key thoughts. Everyone was then encouraged to write a few summary ideas in response to four questions.
Between 70 and 80 people came and joined in and it was wonderful to experience the passion and enthusiasm of so many – the breadth and creativity of their contributions was inspiring. The evening was not intended to provide a list of the top three things CYO should be doing, but was about mission to young people being at the heart of the church in Colchester. All of the ideas, questions and suggestions will therefore be published and made available to the whole town.
The evening concluded with prayer for the young people and the schools of Colchester and with a time of worship, committing ourselves to God's plans for our town.
The evening exceeded our hopes for the level of engagement of the people who came and for the obvious committment to mission from such a wide representation of churches. This is the first time we've done the World Cafe thing, but I highly recommend it as a way of really involving supporters in the quetions that shape our ministries.