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Being a Street Pastor

Zoey, from Stoke St Michael's Church in Coventry, writes about being a Coventry Street Pastor.

Two years ago, our house group from Stoke St Michael’s had a discussion about feeling we need to do more outside our church. We were put in touch with the Street Pastors and one of us joined straight away but two of us were a bit more nervous about being in the city centre at night. The plan was to see how our friend got on and maybe join with the next intake. Sure enough over the next few months we were inevitably drawn to it and even managed to involve another person also, which made four of us from St Michael’s. Another 18 months on and one person has moved to another parish but still patrols with us, another has joined and we also have a Prayer Pastor too. 

Our ages range from 18 to over 75. We are asked to commit to one night a month and one evening training session a week for 10 weeks. 

At least once a month on a Friday or Saturday night between the hours of 10pm to 3am we join with people from other churches to go into the city centre and mingle with the people enjoying the night time economy. We’re not there to preach but to “Listen, Care and Help”, in whatever shape or form that may take. 

I would like to talk about what a typical night consists of but each night is so different. Sometimes people have been enjoying themselves too much and we help them to a taxi or wait with them until a friend arrives. We offer people water and lolly pops. I know all too well how lovely it is to take uncomfortable shoes off at the end of a night so if we spot someone in bare feet, we offer flip flops to protect their feet from the cold or injury. Although we have a general walking route to follow, we do feel generally guided by God to where we’re needed. We’ve been able to give first aid while awaiting an ambulance or just watch a situation where someone may look vulnerable. We have stopped suicides and arranged shelter for the homeless. Sometimes one of the group might be in a conversation and the others will stand back and offer silent prayers. We also pick up any bottles or glass we come across to avoid it being broken or becoming a potential weapon and there is often an unspoken challenge between us to see who can find the most! 

Our prayer pastors support us through the night, usually from their home by phone. If we feel extra prayer is needed or we’re called away, we’ll send a message to them and they will pray for the situation too. 

We are never without God’s protection. Street Pastors have a great opportunity to make God visible on our streets and engage with the community in a way that feels safe and opens our hearts to serve all people with the compassion bestowed upon us.

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