The good news message of Jesus is unchanging – and so too the popularity of a summer visit to the seaside. Through your support, we’ve helped churches across the north west to put these two elements together to create Beach Life, a brilliant pop-up mission initiative using beach activities to take the gospel to children and families.
The seagulls soared overhead, the sun shone, the briny air was fresh and families were heading to the beach for some summer fun. Along the Fylde coast, church volunteers were gathering, and Beach Life was about to start!
There were all sorts of activities on offer – sandcastle building, kite flying, crafts, beach games – and the most important of all, the gospel, shared in stories between other activities. Children were given goody bags with sweets, gospel tracts and invites to follow-up events at local churches. ‘How much is it to have face painting?’ asked a visiting parent.
"It’s our gift to the community, freely given in love."
‘It’s free,’ said Shirley, a local church worker. ‘We’ve been blessed by God. He gives us so much and we just want to share that with other people. It’s our gift to the community, freely given in love. Just like God’s gift of love to us in Jesus! What design would you like?’
Shirley recalls, ‘I loved the way people relaxed and enjoyed the many activities on offer. Parents were happy to let the children play while they chatted with Beach Life volunteers. One holidaymaker said, “I thought church was boring! If churches were more like this, I might go with the kids.” I was glad of the chance to talk about her church experiences and encourage her to try a local church that suits her.’
Helping volunteers share faith naturally
Beach Life came out of a conversation between newly appointed Blackpool minister Steve Haskett and SU’s Rob Steward. Steve wanted a mission concept aimed at children and families that was simple and fun, and would enable volunteers to share their faith easily and naturally. Beach Life ticked every box – and soon other churches were keen to get involved too. The first Beach Life in 2017 comprised three days of mission each in Blackpool, Fleetwood and Cleveleys, and last year’s reached over 700 children and families.
SU’s Sarah Davison recalls an encounter with a mum, not Christian, who was on holiday in Blackpool. ‘I’d just told the story of Jesus calming the storm, and she came over with her daughter. She said how apt the story was for them – they were having to return home early as a relative had just died unexpectedly. I shared how knowing God had been a great comfort when I lost someone I loved, and asked if I could pray for her. She agreed, and I asked for her to be able to know God’s peace and feel God was with them at that painful time. She was really grateful.’
Bringing people together
Rob says, ‘Beach Life has brought together churches of all denominations. They now organise most of Beach Life themselves – SU just helps with planning. It’s helped them make contact with many non-Christian families and the opportunity to build relationships with them.
‘This year, Beach Life will be the biggest yet, stretching 150 miles from Colwyn Bay to Millom over four weeks. It’s funny how much the world has changed since Josiah Spiers first shared the gospel with children on a beach – and yet we’re discovering today how successful that can still be
"Beach Life has brought together churches of all denominations. They now organise most of Beach Life themselves – SU just helps with planning."
Bring Beach Life to your community!
Beach Life is now open to churches everywhere because our team has developed a Beach Life resource. Download it for free here.
Read more stories from Connecting You
This story features in the Summer 2019 edition of our supporter and prayer magazine, Connecting You. To read more stories online or to subscribe to the magazine, visit the Connecting You website.
- Connecting You