Marianne Brown and Megan Te Tai
One of the marks of an outward-focused church is that they serve the community in which they are based. Community outreach programmes, while varied, are a standard way for church groups to provide assistance to the people who need it.
Megan Te Tai and Marianne Brown are the ministry leaders of the Lighthouse Playgroup and Mainly Music programmes at Westgate Baptist Church in West Auckland. They are also good friends and share a vision to reach the women in their community through friendship and relationship-building.
Both Megan and Marianne have a belief in friendship evangelism and are passionate about building relationships with young mums “who have no idea how much their life is going to change,” says Megan.
The church's Mainly Music ministry was already reaching out to mums of young children, but Marianne decided to align it more closely to what the playgroup ministry was doing; making connections rather than just running a programme.
After attending a 'pamper evening' at a family camp, Marianne and Megan saw how they could use this to serve the women in their community. “We loved the experience ourselves, and thought 'what woman wouldn't like to be pampered a bit?'” recalls Megan. They decided to combine their efforts and put on a Pamper Night for the ladies they serve through their respective programmes.
“In the past, there has been resistance to anything that may be identified as something that the church might be putting on, so we really had to break down those barriers and this was the easiest way we could think of how to do it,” says Marianne.
“The event was easy to arrange,” said Megan. While nearly 30 women from the church came out to help run the evening, Megan and Marianne found that the decision-making was more efficient by limiting the numbers on the organising team.
They asked the women of Westgate Baptist church to support the event by donating pamper items such as foot spas, nail polish, hand cream, hand towels, etc. They also needed volunteers to serve their guests at the various pamper stations.
Local businesses, including several pharmacies were approached and generously donated products used as give-aways. A masseuse friend of Megan's gave up her time to provide 10-minute back massages and ladies from Westgate Baptist volunteered to provide the hand and feet massages.
On the day, the girls and their team transformed the space from church hall to elegant and beautiful beauty salon by draping chiffon over the walls and using soft lighting (including fairy lights). Fresh flowers and candles were placed on the tables in the break-out areas where the women could enjoy delicious food and a chat over coffee.
Around 35 women from the community attended the event, plus an almost equal number from the church who were there to serve. This made the evening very intimate, says Marianne, something they were striving for. “They couldn't believe the transformation of the place from the venue they regularly visit once a week!” laughs Megan.
The wins from the evening are deeper and strengthened relationships between those that came and a first step towards seeing the church as not only a venue for a community programme, but as a place that also cares about the mothers that come.
So what's next? Megan and Marianne are planning a Fish 'n Chip Nite where the Dads can come along too and see what their little ones do every week. Hopefully another story to follow!