A group of Christians in Hampshire who've taken over the local tourist information office say it's become a valuable way of engaging people with faith.
They stepped in and took the centre over from the Council in Gosport near Portsmouth to prevent it from closing.
Mike Critchley who is a former chair of Churches Together in Gosport has been speaking to Premier about this new way of doing mission :
“I used to be the chairman of Churches Together in Gosport until last year. But during that time the the tourist information centres around the country really have been closing because everything is online. But people from an older generation actually want to go to a tourist information centre and pick up a leaflet etc. So we took the centre over from the council and they were delighted.
“We as volunteers and one paid staff member, open the centre on reduced hours. In theory, we give out leaflets for tourists and we have piles of books to sell, which in theory, pay the bills. But actually, it's developed into quite a ministry. People walk through the door with every question from where are the toilets, when does the number nine bus go, then start coming up with all sorts of issues that as Christians we feel qualified to signpost them in the right direction.
“It’s an amazing ministry that's developed out of a Tourist Information Centre. So as they close throughout the country, I'm trying to encourage other people in other places to think about providing information in their towns. In church life it seems essential that everybody should open a coffee shop. I'm just trying to say, well, there are other ways to meet people and we seem to be given a great opportunity here.
“I'm a keen Christian, the manager here is a very keen Christian from Family Church. Our volunteers come from a wide range of churches and we also have some volunteers who are not church people - yet.”