Britain’s ‘first soft play nightclub’!


Amusement 13 in Birmingham allows adults to leave the 9 to 5 gruel behind and take a nostalgia trip to their childhood while enjoying top tunes – proof if we ever needed it that the extended adolescence is still a real issue in the UK.

A soft play nightclub for adults has opened giving revellers the chance to enjoy top tunes and toys.

While the DJs pump out the latest house, garage and drum and bass tunes, people can be neck deep in a ball pit, staging a spacehopper race, enjoying a bouncy castle or jumping into photobooths with their props, all while enjoying a drink.

And it seems adults have never been so keen to escape the drudgery of 9 to 5 life – with the inaugural 10pm to 6am party at Birmingham’s Amusement 13 club completely selling out.  The night featured music in three rooms with giant games, a Lego lounge and face painting amongst the other activities, reports the Birmingham Mail.

Watch the advert the cinemas banned

Just Pray

The Church of England produced an advert promoting their new website, which seeks to create a digital place for prayer with advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The site also provides a ‘live prayer’ feed of prayers being prayed across the globe via Twitter, Instagram and Vine. The promotional 60-second advert features Christians from all walks of life praying one line of the Lord’s Prayer, and includes weight lifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support centre, school children, a mourner at a graveside, a festival goer and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was to have been shown in cinemas from 18th December as part of the ad reel before ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.

But despite receiving clearance from both the Cinema Advertising Authority and British Board of Film Classification (a ‘U’ certification, no less),  the country’s three largest cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue – who together control 80% of cinema screens around the country – have refused to show the advert because they believe it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”. Which is a bit odd, when you think how many films they screen which carry the same or greater risk.

The Church of England has said it is “bewildered” by this “plain silly” decision. The Rev’d Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Church of England, has issued a statement:

“The prospect of a multi-generational cultural event offered by the release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on 18th December – a week before Christmas Day – was too good an opportunity to miss and we are bewildered by the decision of the cinemas.

“The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by billions of people across the globe every day and in this country has been part of everyday life for centuries. Prayer permeates every aspect of our culture from pop songs and requiems to daily assemblies and national commemorations. For millions of people in the United Kingdom, prayer is a constant part of their lives whether as part thanksgiving and praise, or as a companion through their darkest hours.

“In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech. There is still time for the cinemas to change their mind and we would certainly welcome that.

“In the meantime people should visit the site, see the film themselves and make up their own minds as to whether they are upset or offended by it.”

The issue that seems confusing at the moment is the role played by the Digital Cinema Media (DCM), jointly owned by Odeon and Cineworld and which handles the majority of cinema advertising in the UK.  Initially they were very receptive to the Church of England advert, and even offered a 55 per cent discount for a slot in the ‘ad reel’ that is screened before the seventh Star Wars film when it opens on December 18.  Three months later, the agency told the Reverend Arun Arora, the Church’s director of communications, that Odeon, Cineworld and Vue had vetoed the film, saying they could not carry ads of a religious nature.

DCM have now stated that in their advertising policy document all religious advertising is prohibited:

Religious Advertising means… advertising which wholly or partly advertises any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief (including any absence of belief) or any part of any religion, faith or such equivalent systems of belief.

What is interesting is that it isn’t clear when this policy was created – was it before or after the Church of England first went to DCM with the advert?  Given that they have allowed adverts for the Alpha Course it does seem to be a recent addition.

Giles Fraser hits the nail on the head with his comments:

Of course, we can guess what those execs were really saying to each other. If we allow Christianity we are going to have to allow others, even – heaven forfend – Islam. You can feel their panic, their bureaucratic cowardice. We want to be left to get on and make our Christmas profits without getting drawn into such complicated altercations, they are saying.

I’m sorry, but the whole thing stinks. If you are offended by the Lord’s Prayer you are too easily offended.

Interestingly even, Richard Dawkins agrees.

On the plus side though we should reflect on how many more people will have heard of the ‘Just Pray’ campaign and the Lord’s Prayer – perhaps for the first time – courtesy of the media who have picked up on this.

Milton Jones on comedy and Christianity

Milton Jones

The LICC have done a fascinating interview with comedian Milton Jones:

Comedians are well-known for mocking religion; do you think Christianity and comedy can happily coexist? 

It’s easy to see the church as a sort of bullied boy in the playground that won’t fight back. But God is big enough to take criticism or take a joke. There’s something pretty insecure about feeling the need to do God’s work or protect him. I did do a video a little while ago about the weirdness of Christianity, but honestly within comedy people don’t actually hate Christianity. They hate two-dimensional reactionary Christianity, but there’s actually quite a softness towards ‘thinking’ Christianity. Comedy is full of people who used to go to church but couldn’t quite go along with the whole package because it was too jingoistic. I know a heck of a lot of people in comedy whose parents were clergy or missionaries. Ultimately a lot of comedy is dealing with the truth, about life and what it’s all about. The same is true of faith. That said, I do still try and be sensitive when I make jokes about it and even after all these years I’m still trying to pin down what I feel comfortable with. I don’t really have any hard-and-fast rules, it’s more about instinct. Sometimes words written down can look fine, but it’s the way in which you say them and vice versa.

Do go and read the rest of the interview.

Kay Warren on Grief and Facing Mental Illness

Kay Warren & Matthew WarrenKay and Rick Warren lead the most recognizable church in the world—Saddleback Community Church in Southern California. And that made the 2013 death, by suicide, of their youngest son Matthew all the more painful. In the aftermath of the tragedy, they were targets for malicious criticism and brutal cynicism. But out of the darkness of their personal journey through grief, they emerged to help focus the church’s attention on the stigmas surrounding mental illness.

Rick Lawrence has a fascinating interview with Kay for Group Magazine, you can find at

Lifeboat Prayers – Praying for the refugee crisis with young people

prayer_spaces_logoDuring 2015, many thousands of refugees risked their lives (and many others lost their lives) as they sailed across the Mediterranean Sea in small boats. People do desperate things when their lives are in unimaginable danger.

This activity encourages students to think about refugees who are leaving their homes and precious possessions behind in order to escape danger. It encourages them to think about themselves, to reflect on their own homes and possessions and opportunities, and to imagine what it would feel like to lose almost everything.

Read more on the Prayer Spaces in Schools website.

Prank of the year by Adele!

Adele just pulled off the best prank of the year.
To pull it off, Adele got a fake chin and fake nose to go undercover as Jenny, whose day job, Adele says, is nannying. When she introduces herself to the fellow impersonators, she does a pretty stellar job at hiding the fact that she does, in fact, have a casual 10 Grammys at home. She even sneaks in a dig at herself and fakes some serious nerves before taking the stage for her performance of “Make You Feel My Love.” But as soon as she sings, no one can deny that that, right there, is most definitely Adele.
Watch the prank of the year

‘Wil Can Fly’ photo series celebrates boy with Down Syndrome

Alan Lawrence is a photographer, blogger and proud dad of six kids. And one of those kids can fly.


Lawrence started blogging shortly after he and his wife learned their fifth child, Wil had Down Syndrome. In Lawrence’s ongoing photo project, Wil Can Fly, the 2-year-old is able to take flight all around the world — with a little Photoshop magic.

And Lawrence is using his photos to lend a hand to Down Syndrome research. In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness month this October, he and his family have created a 2016 Wil Can Fly calendar available for purchase, with proceeds going to the Ruby’s Rainbow and Reece’s Rainbow foundations.

Lawrence said:

“Wil has brought a new dimension to our family and has helped us look past the world’s preconceived definitions of normal.  We look forward to witnessing more of his unconditional love as he grows and helps us discover how to truly live life.  Even though Wil has Down Syndrome, my family and I know he is going to do anything he puts his mind to. Wil can fly.”

Read this extraordinary letter to ISIS


If you want to read something about the Paris attacks‬ you MUST read this extraordinary letter to ISIS from young husband who lost his wife on Friday evening.

You can read the full translated post here:

“Friday night, you took an exceptional life – the love of my life, the mother of my son – but you will not have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in his heart.

So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access.

We are just two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”

Footballers tell squatters to stay in their Manchester hotel for the winter

Manchester Stock Exchange

A group of squatters and homeless activists that took over a huge hotel undergoing renovation have been told they’re allowed to stay for the winter – by the hotel’s owners.

Manchester Angels gained access to the building, which is due to open as a luxury boutique hotel, on Sunday. The group assumed they’d be swiftly moved on, but were told by former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, one of the properties owners along with Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs, they could stay.

Now the Grade II-listed former stock exchange on central Manchester’s Norfolk Street will become a home and welcoming hub for many of the city’s homeless.

Housing activist Wesley Hall, 33, said he broke down and cried after Neville told him the group could stay for a few months. “I’m crying,” he wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “Just go off the phone to Gary Neville. He’s letting us stay for a few months over the winter period and he’s gonna help us with intervention. I’m shaking here.”

Manchester Angels 1

The imposing former stock exchange was bought by Neville and Giggs two years ago for £1.5 million ($2.3 million). The pair gained permission to turn it into a 35-bed hotel complete with basement gym, spa, bar, restaurant and even a rooftop private members’ terrace.

Before that, though, it will be a sanctuary for homeless people. It’s been renamed the Sock Exchange and will provide somewhere to sleep, hot food, clothing, health checkups, advice on benefits and help with securing long term accommodation. There’s a hashtag, #OpSafeWinter, to coordinate the work. The group say they’re “in talks with a household name chef” to help with a Christmas meal.

“We are going to do everything properly,” Hall said of the project.

“We have already drawn up rotas for cooking, cleaning and staffing the gate. Everyone will be able to have their own room and each person will be able to lock their bedroom door.”

“We were expecting that as soon as Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville found out that we had occupied the building, they would try to get us evicted and that we would have to look for another building. Having a few months during the winter to work with homeless people without the threat of eviction hanging over our heads is brilliant.”

According to Hall, Neville just asked that the temporary residents allow surveyors to access the building as work continues on its renovation. Hall said he has promised to leave the building in as good a state as he found it, if not better.

Toddler group trip to local building site


We had great fun taking our Dibden Minis toddler group to a local building site run by McCarthy & Stone.

Over the last few months we have driven past a building site nearly every day, and my two boys (aged 3 and 5) are always keen to see what is happening.  But with big six foot boarding all around the site it is difficult for them to see what is happening and how things are developing.

I approached McCarthy & Stone and asked if they’d be willing to host a visit from our toddler groups and pre-school.  The firm not only agreed to host some visits, they even built a special platform for all the children to go up and observe the builders from.  In addition they also provided high visibility jackets, helmets, and a great resource pack of stickers, mask, colouring pencils and more from ivorgoodsite.

If you’ve got a building site nearby do see if you organise a visit for your toddler group.


Soulnet – Exploring Youth Ministry Day

SoulNet - exploring youth ministry

Soul Survivor are partnering up with Youthscape, Urban Saints and Romance Academy for a day designed to equip and release those who are feeling a call into youth ministry.  Exploring youth ministry day on Saturday 23rd January, 9.30am-7pm at Soul Survivor Watford Warehouse (WD247GP) – Free!


Could this be you? Your volunteer team? A young person in your youth group? Or a member of your congregation?

We need loads more people equipped and called into youth ministry as we seek to grow disciples and reimagine church, and this is a great way of starting that ball rolling. Find out more about this brilliiant event below!

Please book on so that they have an idea of numbers.

Here’s the info from the Soul Net team:

On Saturday 23rd January we’re holding a one-day conference for anyone who is passionate about young people and would like to explore what it means to reach and disciple the next generation. If you’re already a youth leader, we’d love for you to think about some young people you could invite who are interested in youth ministry. If you’re trying to work out if this is something you’re called to we’d love for you to join us too.

The day will be hosted by Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft, alongside our friends Rachel Gardner from Romance Academy and Girls’ Brigade, Chris Curtis and Martin Saunders from Youthscape and Matt Summerfield from Urban Saints. We’ll also make plenty of space for worship and ministry to meet with God and ask him to work in us.

We’ll be looking at:

• Recapturing the heart of youth ministry

• How to help young people live out their faith among their friends

• What it means to faithfully love and serve others

• Identifying the barriers to disciple-making and how these can be overcome

• Principles and practical exercises to learn how to disciple young people

• Why everything flows from loving God and worshipping him

We hope to see you there. Have a browse below to see what else we’re up to…