ADVERTISING
 
Monday, August 19   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Helen Franklin
 

150 years of Beach Missions

Out in the open, a beach mission is like a church without walls. Those who are unsure can sit at a distance, listening and looking. There is something too about the anonymity of being away on holiday that makes people more willing to try new things.

FEATURES 09 OCTOBER 2018 20:00 h GMT+1
Photo: United Beach Missions

God is love. This short sentence is a great truth of the Bible: a simple and easily understood message. In 1868, it was these three words, written in the sand by a young man on holiday in Llandudno that led to the remarkable work that has spread across the world to so many places where there is sand and sea: the beach mission.



When Josiah Spiers, a Victorian clerk from London, ‘ran to a nearby shop to buy pegs and string’ with which he marked out the text for the children on the beach to fill with shells, stones and seaweed, he was simply creating a way to tell them about the love of God shown in Jesus. He would never have imagined that 150 years later Christians would still be doing the same – though often with far more equipment than a handful of pegs and a ball of string!



Once the text was finished the children asked for a story, so Spiers told them one, and then another and another. He did the same for the next three days, and when the town crier announced that a service would be held on the beach on Sunday afternoon, three to four hundred children and adults came to listen to Spiers.



 



Children’s Special Service Mission



Spiers and his friend T. B. Bishop had already been running special services for children in Islington, London, and his actions on Llandudno beach arose from his increasing awareness of the response that a child could make if the truths of the gospel were presented in the right way. This new work on the beaches quickly became a hallmark of the Children’s Special Service Mission (CSSM), now known as Scripture Union.



A year later, thanks to a legacy, Spiers resigned from his paid role and instead worked for the CSSM as an evangelist. He led services on the beach at Margate, Brighton and in Llandudno again that year, and by the mid-1880s there were seaside missions in around fifty resorts.



 



Beach missions



Fast forward 150 years, and now beach missions are being run around Britain and the world by Scripture Union as well as by United Beach Missions, local churches and other Christian groups. Though the methodology has changed, the message remains the same, and the need for children to hear these truths is even greater than in Victorian days. Research suggests that around 95% of children are not in church, so going to ‘where children are, but the gospel isn’t’, as Scripture Union puts it, means that the beach mission still has an important role to play in our modern day society.



 



A church without walls



Out in the open, a beach mission is like a church without walls. Those who are unsure can sit at a distance, listening and looking but not actively involved. In time they may be drawn in by what’s happening, yet still have freedom to walk away easily if they feel less sure. It can be like a tasting menu in a restaurant, giving a family chance to see what they think – though children often leap in enthusiastically without waiting to see if their parents are as eager! There is something too about the anonymity of being away on holiday, where nobody knows what you normally believe, and of being more relaxed, with fewer calls on time, that softens people’s attitudes and makes them more willing to try new things.



Welcoming people, using everyday language to explain the good news of Jesus and the Bible, fun and laughter, play and friendship, are the ‘pegs and string’ of today’s beach missions, as teams do all they can to tell and to show that God is love just as Josiah Spiers did 150 years ago.



Helen Franklin is a development worker for Scripture Union Cymru.



This article first appeared in the Evangelical Magazine published by the Evangelical Movement of Wales and is used with permission.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - 150 years of Beach Missions
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process

The Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance offers a Christian perspective on the crisis: “We can’t reduce people to just a number that needs to be controlled”.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference

Evangelical leaders from across Europe meet in Wisla (Poland) to network for mission in a range of fields. The vision is to renew the biblical church and evangelise Europe.

 
‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’ ‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’

Photos of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance’s annual gathering “Idea 2019”, in Murcia. Politicians and church leaders discussed about the role of minorities in society.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one' Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one'

Christians from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and North America, from different ethnic backgronds, came together to pray for unity as the body of Christ.

 
How have global missions changed over the last century? How have global missions changed over the last century?

The centre of gravity of Christianity has shifted from Europe to Africa, says Nana Yaw Offei Awuku, Director of the Lausanne Younger Leaders Generation initiative.

 
Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister

Representatives of the National Day of Prayer, the Evangelical Alliance and CARE express the need for churches to pray for the new leadership of a country divided by Brexit and other issues.

 
Practical ways to direct our hearts toward spiritual growth Practical ways to direct our hearts toward spiritual growth

“It is not our initiative, it is not working for ourselves, it is gazing to Jesus and responding to Him. It is the language of inclining the heart that we see in Psalms”, said  Peter Mead, Director of Cor Deo.

 
Evangelical students from around the world gather in South Africa Evangelical students from around the world gather in South Africa

A short video summary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) World Assembly, July 3-10.

 
GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration” GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration”

850 from 108 countries met for the Global Workplace Forum, June 25-29. The gathering was organised by the Lausanne Movement. “Every workplace is a place of ministry”.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.