Inverness Street Pastors; an update April 2009
by Mark Hadfield
Mark at the launch of Street Pastors
Inverness Street Pastors recently celebrated our first anniversary. We launched in January 2008 in the city centre covering every Friday night plus one Saturday night per month with 22 volunteers from 10 local churches.
One year on, we're now covering every Saturday night as well, with a total of 30 volunteers from 14 local churches, aided with funding from the Highland Council Common Good Fund. We've also helped at local music festivals at Rockness and Belladrum, and with Blue Light Discos run by the city centre community to provide a safe environment for youngsters from all around the city. Additionally, we're now being asked by the police, local councillors, and community interest groups in some local housing estates to extend our service into those communities.
Positive reports and changed opinions
We regularly receive positive reports from people in all walks of life concerning Street Pastors, including stories from church folk that their friends are willing to give church a try again simply because they've seen what we do and that has raised new questions for them concerning what Christianity is really all about. It's very humbling to discover that people have been watching our work and in many cases are changing their opinions about the relevance of Christianity and Church. We feel very humbled that God is using us in this way.
So what do we do? As the name implies, Street Pastors is a caring, pastoral ministry for the benefit of the broader community. We are not overtly evangelistic. We do not preach, for example. We offer practical hope. We believe that God is interested in every area of our lives, loves every human being equally, and is calling to every one of us. We just get on with loving people in practical ways.
We listen to people and where we are welcomed we offer practical advice and help. This might be as simple as helping someone get home safely at the end of the night (or challenging their choices that got them in the mess in the first place, so that they might avoid repeating the mistake); or as deep as discussing addictions and behavioural problems, offering to help people connect with professional help, and offering to pray for them to be set free; or pretty much anything you can imagine within that spectrum.
But we are also constantly amazed at how many people want to discuss God with us, or want to ask for prayer - right there and then on the street. We find that most people are genuinely hungry to know about God and to find out how to connect with Him. We never initiate those conversations. We just respond to the questions that people put to us.
Every night. And the great thing about talking on the streets is that the conversation is always open: people are free to pursue it or to walk away. In an environment like that, many people come back to us regularly with new questions and we give them the dignity and space to process every encounter in their own time.
Like to become involved?
You can help Inverness Street Pastors by praying. We have a prayer list that you can join.
You can also help financially if you feel that God may be leading you to do that. We need to develop a sustainable income stream to support the work into the future.
Or perhaps you're interested in training with us this year and joining one of our street teams? We could certainly use your help to respond to the overwhelming requests that we're getting from communities within Inverness to work in their area. And we know that you'd have an amazing and fulfilling time, receive some absolutely first-class training, and make some amazing friends, both within the teams and within the broader community.
Further details and pictures can be obtained by clicking on the 'Tags' link at the foot of this document; and on the 'Related Articles' links in the left margin of this page.
Christians Together recorded an interview with Stef Robertson (formerly Barn church and member of Street Pastors, but now in Aberdeen). Click here to listen
And Christians Together spoke with Mark when the project was first beginning; and you can also pick up a brief video outline by Street Pastors' founder Les Isaacs on this link.
Further information about Street Pastors:
Mark Hadfield, Project Co-ordinator
Tel. 07761 293.108 or