This week, we spoke to Mike, our Street Pastors Coordinator in Chester:
Hi Mike! Tell us a bit about yourself:
Hello! I was born in Stockton-on-Tees, in the North East of England and went to the local grammar school there. While I was there, I met a Christian teacher, who was instrumental in me coming to faith. I have spent most of my working life in the chemical industry, working for ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries – I have an honours degree in chemistry) in a variety of senior commercial roles (sales, marketing, raw materials purchasing).
How did you first get involved with Chester Street Pastors?
I got involved with Street Pastors simply because a fellow Street Pastor asked me one Sunday morning, as she was serving coffee, why I wasn’t a Street Pastor. I said “it wasn’t for me”, but as I walked away with the coffee in hand, this “little voice” said “you need to check it out”. I went out as an observer with no intention of taking it any further and here we are, 10 years on, having become a Street Pastor, then a team leader and then the coordinator. Clearly, it was definitely “not for me”!!!
What is your role in Chester Street Pastors? What does it involve?
Apart from going out on patrol, as any other volunteer does, I am also the Chester Street Pastors Coordinator. The Coordinator is paid by the organisation. I am self-employed and contracted to work 2 days a week. The Coordinator is really the first point of contact for volunteer Street Pastors, the Street Pastors Management Team, the national Street Pastors organisation (Ascension Trust), outside agencies (both statutory and non-statutory) that we work with and the general public. It involves representing Chester Street Pastors to a wide variety of organisations (police, council, licensed trade, churches and faith groups to mention a few!). It also involves giving lots of talks about the work we do.
What is your favourite part about being a Street Pastors coordinator?
The Coordinator’s is role is very varied (no two days are the same!) and involves meeting lots of (occasionally new) interesting people. Many of the skills developed during my secular career, coupled with my experience in church leadership, help me in the course of my work as Coordinator. It is also good to be able to bring ‘Kingdom Principles’ to the forefront when dealing with secular organisations.
What would you say that Chester Street Pastor’s biggest need/challenge at the moment is?
In terms of needs, I would say that ongoing funding and volunteer recruitment remain high on the list. In terms of challenges, I would say that we need to see a greater expectation of seeing something more than ‘just doing good works’. Clearly, we are called, in Jesus’ sermon on the mount, to be ‘salt and light’ and to ‘let our light shine before the people, so they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven’ but I think we need to get beyond just the good works and actually see something more of God breaking out on the streets. I’m not sure what this looks like but when Peter and John went to the Temple they passed a lame man they had probably seen many times before (and with Jesus) but, on that occasion, they said (paraphrase) ‘money we don’t have but we have something far better, rise up and walk’. We don’t carry money when we go out on Street Pastor patrols, but we do carry the Holy Spirit. Somehow, and in someway, we need to get to the point of being able to say the same kind of thing.
What you would say to someone considering getting involved in Street Pastors?
We are called to ‘go’ and make disciples not just sit and wait for then to come to church (and I am in no way knocking the Christian church!) but I think the church (individual Christians) need a spell out on the streets, at night, to see life as it is lived by many people. Before I became a Street Pastor I had no idea about Chester’s night-time economy and what it entailed. I only saw the day-time city, which is very different. Street Pastors is a way of taking the church to the people, out on the streets, and being His presence in places that the church doesn’t really get too. I think, like me, once you’ve been out an seen the work that we do, you’ll see the benefit of becoming a Street Pastor. Get in touch and we can arrange for you to come out as an observer to see what it’s really like!
Thanks Mike, is there anything else you would like to tell us about?
The only other thing I would say is that, whilst I totally accept that personal transformation can only come about by the power of the Holy Spirit, a city/community transformation can come about by all ‘people of goodwill’ working collaboratively together. There are lots of ‘people of goodwill’ in Chester, both of different faiths and no-faith, who are seeking to make Chester a better place to live, to work and to visit. Street Pastors are part of that ‘goodwill’ and city/community transformation mix and contribute to the church making a significant impact on the culture of the city where God has placed us ….. but I still feel there is something more for us to experience!
If you would like to know more, or are interested in volunteering with or donating to the work of Chester Street Pastors, you can contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org