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.

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.

‘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.”

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…

How to talk about Paris with young people?


The challenge for any youth worker is how do we talk with the young people about the shocking news of the terror attacks in Paris.

The Frontier Youth Trust through Ian Long and Pip Wilson have produced a brilliant Blob Paris – a free blob download for those working with children and young people:

Blob Paris

In the light of the shocking news about the terror attacks in Paris, this Blob sheet provides children and adults with an opportunity to discuss their feelings about the events. Here are a set of questions which can be used or adapted for your own situation.

With your partner, discuss what you can see

  • Which Blobs are experiencing fear?
  • Which Blobs are feeling angry? Why?
  • Which Blobs are on a mission?
  • Which Blob/s did you feel like about these murders?
  • Which Blob would you like to feel like?
  • Which Blob do you think God feels like?

Youth homelessness in the UK

Homeless Person

A new study on Youth Homelessness in the UK has been published.  The study focuses on identifying priorities for future service development.

This study reviews changes in youth homelessness policy and practice across the UK since 2008. It draws on academic research, “grey literature”, and available data and statistics, combined with qualitative interviews and focus groups with 26 youth homelessness experts from the four UK nations. The review aims to identify key gaps in provision and practical models that offer the most effective responses to youth homelessness.

The report highlights a number of positive developments over the last seven years:

  • improving responses to homeless 16/17 year olds;
  • the extension of the rehousing duty to virtually all homeless people (rather than only ‘priority’ groups) and a stronger emphasis on homelessness prevention in Scotland;
  • the introduction of a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness in Wales;
  • the extension of local authority duties to support young people in care; and
  • investment in the development of accommodation options for young homeless people in England.


Gaps in services

Drawing on consultation with 26 youth homelessness experts across the UK, the review identifies a number of areas in which service provision can be strengthened and developed:

  • PreventionDespite the mainstreaming of preventative ‘housing options’ approaches across Great Britain, the availability, uptake and effectiveness of mediation services could be improved, with a particular gap identified in the provision whole-family interventions and support and access to respiteor time-out emergency accommodation options while such family support and mediation is put in place.
  • Accommodation optionsYouth homelessness organisations face a major challenge in providing good quality accommodation that is genuinely affordable to young people both in work (often on low wages) and out of work (often with limited entitlements to welfare support). There is a particular gap in accommodation provision for young homeless people with complex needs who require high levels of support, with high quality, small-scale supported accommodation projectsSupported Lodgings; and the ‘Housing First’ model seen to offer promising solutions for this group. Psychologically informed environments –designed to take into account the psychological and emotional needs of service users – are now seen as crucial in the youth homelessness sector given that a higher proportion of young people using services have complex needs. For young people with low support needs, the development of long-term accommodation options that are affordable for individuals on a low income are required. Such provision might include: ‘light touch’ supported accommodationPeer Landlord and other shared accommodation models; design and build options that minimise costs and rent-levels; repurposing of former student accommodation; and refurbishment of empty properties.
  • EmploymentThere are calls for the better alignment of youth homelessness and youth employment services, to improve the employability and prospects of young people experiencing homelessness. Means of improving the employment offer for this group include: improving (formerly) homeless young people’s employability and work readiness through training and skills programmes and work experience; engaging and supporting employers to enable them to offer employment opportunities to young people who have experienced homelessness; and encouraging employment and earnings progression for homeless/formerly homeless young people through in-work support.
  • Social networksSupporting young people who have experienced homelessness to develop positive social networks is seen as an important means to support resettlement, improve young people’s wellbeing, and reduce the risk of repeat homelessness. Developing ‘social networks approaches’ to youth homelessness provision that help young people develop informal connections in the local community both during and after homelessness, including through mentoring schemes, were seen as important areas for development.


The full report can be accessed here.

A briefing summarising the report’s key findings can be accessed here.

YC15 Blog: Main session 4: Kate Coleman

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Remember this, it’s about passing it on.
You are in a very significant role, God has entrusted people to you. The challenge is to become someone who doesn’t hold on to things, but what God pours into us we pour out to others.


2 Timothy 2:2:

“So … throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me – the whole congregation saying Amen! – to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others.”


The passage starts with a connector, the word “so”. Paul is saying for Timothy to follow his example and to pass it on to others.


Matthew 4:12-5:12. This is a precedence sharing gospel story, with three themes to explore this morning:

  • Develop leaders
  • Build team
  • Turn intention into habit


When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.” Matthew 5:1-2


Develop leaders

This is at the start of Jesus’ ministry, he hears that John his cousin has been arrested and is likely to lose his life. He is preaching, signs and wonders are taking place. Many, many people are being released. He is so effective, and his reputation in a short time spreads around Israel. The crowd are eating out of his hands, following him around, wanting to engage with him and be a part of the process. Then we read this. Something incredible happened. When he saw the crowds, he climbed the hillside and taught his disciples. What would you do if something you were doing was drawing incredible attention from others, all the TV channels want to turn up, receiving a phone call from Oprah, imagine if the Kardashians give you a call – they want to raise money for your charity, your favourite blog/newspaper wants to do a feature on you, Spielberg wants to do a movie on your life. What would you do? How would you respond? There’s a lot of pressure. Turning it down would be like winning XFactor and then saying I’ve decided to give up singing.


Jesus finds himself in a situation where he is suddenly in great demand. People want to hear from him, he is drawing huge crowds. He climbs a hillside, and teaches his climbing companions. Jesus’ prioritises the task of developing leaders. He took time to develop those who were right under his nose. The Great Commission is clear for the mission, the problem with the prospect of growth or pressure is it is easy to lose sight of what you’re trying to do, why you’re doing it and what you want it to look. Make disciples of all nations, not youth groups. With the whole world to save you’d have thought Jesus would have contacted as many people as possible and converted as many people as possible. But something else happens here. Rather than rushing out, instead he begins to pause, turn away from the crowds, and instead teaches and develops those who are committed to him. He does this at the beginning as Jesus practices what he preaches, making disciples, the baseline of his work. These were going to be the ones who would continue his work. He was modelling the commission to them. Jesus doesn’t seek to meet the needs of the world or even the community.


At the pool of Bethseda there was a rumour that an angel will stir the waters, and whoever gets first into the waters is healed. Jesus spoke to one man who explained he’d been waiting for thirty years. Jesus told him to get up and take his mat. He then did something we find really difficult, he walked away, leaving all the other poor and sick people.


Be counter-intuitive

One of the challenges in leadership is to be counter-intuitive. Sometimes when the pressure is on and the thing you don’t feel you have time to do is the thing to do. He could only do this because he made time.


Build capacity – disciple/teach

He appointed 12 that they might be with him, and send them out to preach. That takes time, time you can’t wait for or hope for, but time you have to make.


Lay a foundation in them and with them

Have no building skills, but they plan a house, dig a big hole, fill it, and then build on it. No one sees that foundation. But that’s what keeps the building upright in the storms. Jesus was strategic in investing his life in these 12 disciples. It is such a temptation in leadership to find yourself stretching in every direction, and yet the real challenge is being counter-intuitive to build up those who are closest to you, under your nose. Start off with this, don’t end with it. By all means speak to crowds but make sure you disciple a few.


Be together, make time, mutual commitment

Make time, as a mutual commitment, being together, currently mentor 35 people of whom 15 are formal mentees. We sign an agreement to make sure we commit. Don’t speak at every conference because I say yes to them.   I am committed to them, it takes time, energy and effort. It takes all parties to engage – some one has to leave their nets, some one has to leave the comfort of heaven and the crowds.


Clarify, shared vision, course corrections, encouragement, challenges, planning ‘runner’

This was the first time he asked them to make him the organisational factor in their lives. He’s not asking for free time, spare cash or what’s leftover. The real change is making him the organisational principle.


We have to develop leaders not just because there’s a community or church in need. It is a sign that things will get tough. This is just before the Sermon on the Mount. You will get to the end of your rope, when you lose what’s most dear with you.


Jesus is speaking to the converted, they were people of faith, Jews steeped in Jewish tradition. They weren’t religious Pharisees or teachers of the law but they had a default position which he adjusts. The young people you work with come with a history, they have pre-existing beliefs, cultural and sub-cultural expectations, they have a position, and we are to help them re-orient their religious position to Jesus.


Drugs are becoming increasingly decriminalised. Youth work has some big issues on the horizon due to this. Youth worker said he was getting out as soon as he can. Any right leader would jump out of this, sometimes you need to recover the runners, and sometimes you will be the runner.


Recalibrate defaults

People are coming from all over, to be with him. But he’s changed the world through others – he doesn’t teach the crowds, he teaches the disciples, he tells stories to the crowds, but explains and invests in the disciples. We should always be prepared to minister to the crowds. But we should not neglect the counter-intuitive, the teaching time. It is a risk worth taking.


There is a story told about a conversation in heaven between the resurrected and the angels. The angels are excited and amazed that God sent his son to earth, to live with humans. One of the angels asks who is going to complete the work. The angel said, you mean Peter who denied you three times, that group who fell asleep when you needed them the most, the group who ran away, the group of tax collectors, fisherman, philosophers. What is plan B? There is no plan B – that is it. That is the same with our young people.


Build team

Never problem free

Jesus chose twelve initially from when he went up the mountain – they were a rabble. He even chose Judas, and Judas had a part to play. Sometimes people will challenge our boundaries of leadership, they will frustrate us. They don’t all go on with us but they are there for a reason. They are never problem free.


What does God want me to learn and contribute

Everyone of them has something to contribute to the team and something to learn from everyone else in the room.


Who else is on your team?

Constantly ask who else is on your team. We always arrive at a team context with our entourage – husband, wife, children, a dog who bit them. Sometimes you don’t hear them but their bad day, their entourage, their peer group. Sometimes we need to escort their entourage out of the room.


From groups to teams

Every team is a group but not every group is a team. We hear mainly about the extroverts and the loud ones, but don’t overlook the quiet ones, the ones who many be opposite to you. Been a pastor for 27 years in urban church with people who had rock bottom self-esteem who didn’t believe they could do it. Having to pray and trust if that is who God has entrusted you with, there is leadership in this, so they become the leader they can be, the world changers. This is about them becoming world changers not us.


Turn intention into habit

What are you looking for?

The youth leaders have a strategy called the shoulder tap. They are constantly looking for people who have something to offer, have gifting, have ability, want to serve. We may not know they want to serve. Made my way into ministry as someone shoulder tapped, said you might have something. Imagine if the whole church started tapping each other’s shoulders. Turning intention into habit.


Pray, pray, pray, again

Jesus went up a mountain to pray and pray. One thing we can always do is to pray and ask God who, and then pray for them and keep praying and keep praying through the challenges and difficulties. Some will go on and some won’t.


Acts 2, 3,000 come to faith! That would trial most of us. 120 leaders were just doing what they saw Jesus doing. He raised a group that became a team, and started to put people into groups, households, and some of those groups became teams.


The journey of leadership will take us over many types of terrain, sometimes easy walking, sometimes climbing – which brings me out in a cold sweat! It’s hard work, even for those of you enjoy climbing, you sweat, sometimes it is painful, but it gives you perspective because what you see at the top is so different. That’s why he challenges us to climb higher, the committed climb.


He spent time with them, built them into a team, and sent them out to preach. He did it again and again so that they reproduced it. When we read Paul it’s something he’s seen done, and is passing it onto another generation. That’s the challenge we have.


If you forget everything else, the challenge is to pass it on. Don’t hold onto it, don’t do it all yourself, they’re there for reason, keep passing it on, and if that keeps happening you have a movement.

YC15 Blog: Main session 3: Andy Hawthorne

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Andy Hawthorne spoke at tonight’s Big Room session using Ephesians 4:1-16

Made a commitment to Christ aged 12, now aged 55. Started gunning for God aged 18 years old. My passion has never dried. What excites me the most is reaching out to the broken and the marginalised. That’s one of the main ways we will see revival in this country.

Young offenders giving their life to Jesus is like shelling peas, so easy, discipleship is a different challenge. What does it look like for them to become the centre of kingdom life, the epicentre of the kingdom. One person never gets saved, they are put in the epicentre, and we see the ripples.

Nick was put on my heart. He was well and truly off the rails, heavily into drugs, gangsterism, tried to commit suicide several times. Must have picked him up 50 times to hear him preach. Would see loads of people come to faith but never respond. Annoyingly he came to faith at Nigerian speaker! Now working with the Message, seen over 400 people come to faith. Still trying to disciple him whilst he’s still living with his girlfriend. Andrea isn’t for God but then a lady from the Message takes her to Uganda and she meets the Holy Spirit in the slums. They got married, and I was the best man. Last year, 10pm on a Sunday night, after the birth of Niko, with Alexis I was high on drugs and didn’t know how to treat Andrea and Alexis. Andrea is leading a charity sponsoring 300 children in the slums of Uganda. Yesterday she was running a marathon in the heat of Uganda for these children. The gospel can turn these into prince and princesses.

We celebrate the stories but some don’t go well. A month out of prison he came into the bike shop where he worked he said I need the afternoon off to go to a sexual health clinic. Asked whether he was sleeping around, he said I’ve been in prison for 3 years of course I have. Sat him down and discipled him, realised hadn’t told him about no sex outside of marriage. Now in the course they do tell them this!

2 cocaine addicts, beautifully transformed, and winning friends for Jesus. Both had some seemingly small stuff happen and went back on the gear and died. Kingdom breakthrough and then Satan kicks you in goolies.

Video of Message Trust including The Higher Tour for 2016 onwards.

Ephesians 4, after 3 chapters of unfolding what the gospel is and how it transforms this new society in Christ, he comes to chapter 4 where the rubber hits the road. Moving from doctrine to duty. Romans, 1-11 of doctrine, the gospel of free grace, then chapter 12, therefore. Exposition to Exaltation. We are about understanding the book but not just understanding the book but applying it.

Sometimes the way we do youth ministry the impression is about the thrill of the fill, but Paul says there’s a duty of serving the king from understanding who amazing he is. Present company accepted scared how little time youth workers spend studying the Bible. If you want to see your youth ministry transformed, get into the Bible, it’s all there to lead the best ministry in town. Paul gets it better than any theologian in history.

The goal of our youth ministries is disciples, and no one is better at telling us how to make disciples than Paul. How do we preach the gospel, release evangelists, of course we need to do food banks, debt relief, refugees support, if you remove the gospel it goes wrong.

18 months ago had a phone call from an amazing Ugandan guy called John who leads 24/7 across Uganda. Andy the Lord will take everything to a new level, everything will go through the roof, and you need to get away and seek the Lord. Managed 2 days in the Lake District staying at my mates 4* hotel enjoying hospitality. God is so good! Driving there thinking what do I listen to, pulled a CD, and heard a man speaking about Isaiah 60 and the work they’ve built in Manchester, India, Africa. If we could sell the house, ex-offenders had done it up, looked amazing, trying to sell for 14 months, killing cash flow, reduced it by £10k, and thinking wouldn’t it be amazing to give him the money. Phone goes off seconds later. The estate agent had a full asking price, in cash, before you reduced it by £10k! The Lord saying get ready! Walking in the hills, knelt down by the bed, was going to look at Romans but it fell open at Isaiah 60, had an amazing time with God. Felt like the last 25 years of ministry came before his eyes. Assemble my people, the gates will stay open. Timing is open in the kingdom, you can kill yourself doing something and then the Lord just makes it happen. Going home, put a CD in, and heard another sermon on Isaiah 60. Going to gather young people, preaching a gospel to

A calling to a King

Young people are being born wrong, come to Jesus and have the best life, come to Jesus and he will sort your problems, come to Jesus and he thinks your beautiful. But that’s only half, what about come to Jesus and take up your cross, come to Jesus and be a living sacrifice, come to Jesus and make him king. If you’re worthy of the call then live it, it’s what we have to do and help our young people to do – make God king.

Rather than calling young people to serve at whatever cost. We call them to serve the Queen, she’s a sister of the Lord, she is doing better than Billy Graham, although he might have delivered it better, could you imagine doing an altar call! 60 years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury knelt down and gave her a bible and says here’s the oracles from the Bible, and it is the most precious thing she can own. The most precious thing she owns isn’t the Bentley’s fabulous jewellery or the estates, but this Bible, the living word of God. Imagine if we had young people who were passionate to live out the word of God. We love the Queen but she doesn’t really affect the way we live, the way we spend our money, when she dies we will mourn, but she doesn’t affect the way we live.

The Eden teams are so prophetic, 41 teams living in communities around the country. The decisions about where’s the best schools for my children, where’s the best shopping centres, or even the best churches. What about where are the poor and the broken hearted? That is kingdom thinking, he’s the boss, he’s in charge,

Bill Bright founded Campus Crusades for Christ. In 1951 he was broken by what he saw the students doing and so set up a student ministry as a business man. As they were planning, they made a contract between them as a couple and Jesus. The contract said this: “From this day forward I am a slave to Christ”. 14th October 2014 signed a similar one . He came up with a tract called the 4 Spiritual Laws, but 1.5 billion people have read it, he produced a film, the JESUS Film which has been seen by more people than any other film, it’s not even the best film! Not saying if you become a slave to God that

A calling to holiness

A call to see this messed up youth culture changed. You can sniff how godly people are within minutes of walking into a youth group. Do you expect young people to watch the right stuff on their computer if you can’t. Do you expect them to get on and be united if you as a leadership team isn’t. But the opposite is true we can see groups who are changed because of their youth leader living out God’s calling. God wants to call us to repent so that we can see our young people truly repent.

A calling to unity

Do you think Paul’s quite obsessed when 7 times in 2 verses he writes about unity and the body of Christ. You can’t multiply the church, there is only one church, that’s why it is so cool to come together like this – all these different denominations here, the Lord is a lot less chipped up than we are. People used to stand outside my meetings with placards, my sin was ecumenicism, I wanted to smack them in the face. 3,500 young people going to a gig, 1,000 came to Christ and this little group were saying “Don’t go in, he’s ecumenical.” Another time they had TV cameras to create an anti-Andy Hawthorne youtube channel accusing his mum of being an ecumantic.

Dad died singing his way through mission praise, singing, “turn your eyes to Jesus”. He went to be Jesus, mum had vision of dad being carried into the garden, and Uncle Ken, and his mates were there. Because of that his mum was accused of being an ecumantic who speak to the dead. Won’t do it, so going to pursue living it out now, going to be embarrassing if get to heaven and we’ve spent all our time on earth hating each other and now we have to hang out together for eternity. It’s not just you get it, but make every effort to pursue unity. What would it look like in your situation to obey that heart cry. We could have formed our own church but we don’t need more denominations. If the 40,000 had not spent time arguing but united the great commission could have been completed. It’s tough when you see churches not doing a great job and you see you could do something better.

Two things: spend real time getting into this book. If you would make every effort to work with other youth leaders. We haven’t got this gathering together next year, God loves this, so you need to make more effort to bless youth leaders in your neighbourhood, those who are struggling, those who have less, give them some money, resources, buy them dinner. If you made every effort obeying the word of the lord to maintain unity you’d be staggered to see how it comes in your youth group. Not into prosperity gospel, but am in to sowing and reaping. Do stuff that you can’t do on your own. In it together and God turns up, it’s his idea that unity is so important.

Dennis Rigley leads the Maranatha prayer movement, he died this week. If there’s anyone in my life that embodies what I’ve talked about, it’s him, this isn’t a eulogy. Dennis when he was 18 become the youngest ever Liberal Party candidate. He stood at every elections between age 18 and his mid-60s. He never got in but invested in a young man, David Alton, for 40 years investing in justice, the persecuted around the world, unborn and so much more. Dennis great grandfather was a missionary to Ghana, when the average lifetime for a missionary in Ghana was 16 weeks. The only other Christian was a Catholic and they put stuff on together and saw revival. That’s why he was so keen to work with David, a Catholic. He set up prayer meetings all over the world. Several times he was healed, but finally time to be with the Lord. Texted Simon, his son, who works with the Message, he said back “Dad has been comforting the Doctors, when given the bad news, he told the Doctor it was good news, and broke into song, the nurses in tears, amazing moment” On Tuesday he was carried into the garden of heaven. For the first two million years can you imagine what a party of people saying thank you for his perseverance for unity. Why would you not want to live out for Jesus, turn your back on all the crap, pursue unity in this generation, it’s our only chance, this is not a trial run. I want to live large for Jesus, don’t you?

Decide what to do to get into the book, decide to be united as a leadership team, even if it’s 10% you and 90% them, bless youth leaders in your community.

YC15 Blog: Main session 2: Pete Greig

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The second main session is by Pete Greig from 24/7 prayer movement.

You have no idea how brilliant you are. You are brilliant because you are human, your existence itself is a miracle. You have chosen to make a difference in the life of others. You’ve even chosen to be here this weekend rather than be at Homebase or some other heady heights.

Jesus looks at you and wants to say thank you to you. Youth workers are some of the most important people in our society and yet the most undervalued – financially and culturally. The hundreds of the tent represent tens of thousands of young people funded by the church. If the church were to disappear, some people would be happy, but millions of pounds would be added to the deficit.

All your relatives at family weddings are making money, they are brain surgeons and bankers and you are just a youth worker. Jesus wants to say thank you. So often you are misunderstood by your employers or church. Some of the great unsung heroes of our world, God’s heart is to say thank you to you.

Matthew 20:20-28

If you want to lead you have to serve – it’s the only model for Christian influence and leadership.

Talking Jesus research recently published by Barna Group and others in the UK. One of the fascinating things is the difference in views of Jesus, the top three words for aged 18-almost dead are: spiritual, loving, peaceful. No great surprises there. Amongst the 18-34 year olds the top three words changed, and find something unique: spiritual, loving, 41% then say leader. No other demographic used that word of Jesus. Isn’t that extraordinary – not what the grannies are saying but the young guys. We have Putin with his shirt off, Trump with weird hair and Corbyn in the middle, and people say vote Jesus for leader!

Where do we look for trustworthy role models, IAAF report, Parish shootings last night, refugees across the world, wars and rumours of wars. Let us not be leaders trying to copy business leaders. Steve Jobs made pretty phones but not sure how many were crying at his phone. If your pour your life out for Jesus, when you die that church building will be full of people with emotion because of the difference you made in their lives. That is ultimately all the matters in our life.

Jesus doesn’t say it is wrong to be great or to be a leader but that the way to work it is to be a slave. There are four counter-cultural rules:

  1. Jesus starts with the heart in a narcissistic, surgically improved, celebrity culture.
  2. Jesus calls us to go small in a supersized everything world.
  3. Jesus dream is of team, not of the great heroic individual, not of the spotlight but the twilight.
  4. Jesus call is to go slow in a broadband 4G next day delivery manic busy world. There is a great book called the 3MPH God. God is not necessarily as efficient as amazon – thank God!

Start with the heart

You want to change the world, start with your heart, your own secret motivation. James and John are ambitious for the top jobs. They realise Jesus is about to make it big and they want the top jobs, it’s even worse than that, her mum wants the top job!

Jesus says if you want the top job you have to be willing to drink the cup I will drink, you have to be willing to suffer. I don’t know a senior Christian leader who has any real sense of authority around them unless they have majorly suffered. There is always a sacrifice that comes through suffering – not from a title or position.

In suffering, in the odd bit of failure, we grew in authority. People release young people for God unless they never fail. But don’t know anyone who did anything significant without failure. We must release our young people not just to succeed but also to fail. If you’ve set it up so they can’t fail they won’t learn, not danger or being stupid but opportunity to learn.

In my own life there were two key points. Both when I stopped trying to be a hero and tended to my own heart. First aged 18 had given up on Christianity and discovered even worse on being a non-Christian then being a Christian – so not a wild cocaine sniffing, millionaire, sex God, but was just rather a beige bank manager. Talking to God more even though I didn’t believe he was there. Thought about life and realised it was worth more than that. Settled into magnolia agnosticism and God broke into life quite unexpectedly. Told to get the next plane out to work with Jackie Pullinger in Hong Kong. As an arrogant so and so said he was going to work with Jackie Pullinger, see the miracles, and bring revival back to the UK! What really found was miracles, but also people who were more like Jesus than I was. Start to be embarrassed about the things that made me laugh, the things that motivated me. If I had been ill I could have gone to a doctor, but it was like a spiritual psychosis. Find the day off was praying a mantra, praying thousands and thousands times, “change my heart or take me home” – don’t want to carry home, I’m embarrassed to be who I am. Literally tens of thousands of times said this on my day off. There was a sanctifying work, a conviction of sin, a call to holiness, the really weird thing is that God did it, I am not perfect! God changed my physical features, one lady who I’d grown up with didn’t physically recognise me. Prioritise the heart, the presence of God.

Knew I was really rubbish at prayer and so started to attend to that. From me attending to my prayer life, and church started a prayer room, something viral happened and now over 100 nations involved. Started with me, not the idea of 100 countries.

Robert M’Cheyne said “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness” The young people’s greatest need is not what you do with them but what you do without them, your personal holiness.

At the end of Red Moon Rising was really tried, exhausted, typing with two fingers. Sammy and the kids are like widow and orphans. Call the family into the study, boy on each knee, Sammy behind, prayer over it, sent it to the publishers. There was a pub near by which had leather sofas and a playground for the sofas. Drove to the pub, there’s the sofa with the window looking at the playground, go and enjoy the playground, take as long as they want. One runs out and loves it, other runs to the door then comes back, think he needs the toilet, comes back and says “Dad I’ve missed you” and climbed into my lap and cuddled me. His act of unnecessary affection ministered to my tired lap. I would not have loved him any less if he had gone and used the swings and slide, but that one who chose to prioritise the time with me ministered to my heart. That is our choice, to minister to the heart of God, not numbers, winning the next grant. How does Mother Theresa’s work keep going, when they take people who are going to die, they spend resources on them and then they die anyway. It is by definition a pointless and thankless tasks, they do it not for them but to minister to Jesus, and they know through that they know something of God’s approval. If you are going to be sustainable you must climb into the lap of God and minister to him.

He calls us small

Not many of us choose the small, most of us want the big. Ended up having to do the small as didn’t have any other option. Had no idea how to make vision of young people across Europe rising up happen. Started doing youth work in Chichester, where it’s old ladies with cobbled streets. It was hard work, one step forward, two steps back, celebrate someone comes to faith and 6 months later they aren’t their, young leader who then sleeps with someone. St. Francis of Assisi gets this amazing call to rebuild the church, he rebuilt the church of Jesus in such a way that he changes European history. He starts to rebuild the derelict, funny, old chapel he was in at the time. The vision begins with what you have in front of you, and the opportunities that present to you and small and often unglamouress. The mustard seed, the five loaves and two fish. As we are faithful in the small he learns he can trust us in the big. Martin Luther said until a man has nothing a man can make nothing out of him. Perhaps you are on the road to hiddenness before influence.

The best beer is made by monks in Belgian. You can’t buy it in shops, there was mass pressure to produce it, but instead Abbot says you have to pray and we make same amount. If you ring the monastery at a certain time you give them your registration plate and phone number and they will let you drive up at an agreed time and collect a small quantity. Belgian lodger bought a gift, a bottle of the best beer, become a member of my family, help yourself to everything! So excited, hid it carefully so friends didn’t drink it back by accident, not drink at any time. Waiting for the special time. Lodger wasn’t impressed, thought he didn’t want it. Explained it was the best beer and was going to crack it open at a special time.
When God treasures you he hides you for a season, he has a high price on your life. He hasn’t passed you over. Mums with young children can be a frustrating time and bring hiddenness; illness can make it so difficult. A backward change, the preaching can be so boring you count bricks in the wall. Deep down I knew I could talk better, and if I asked the pastor he would say yes, but God said I want you to listen. Now God has opened up amazing opportunities, now turn down 85% of speaking opportunities.

Start with the heart, he calls you to the small. David was a shepherd boy, Joseph was in prison, Jesus had 30 years.

He dreams of team

He says serve one another, Paul says submit to one another. God himself is relationship, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. God’s strategy for changing the world is 12 people loving one another. The ten were indignant when the two were looking for position. You must beware of comparison – there is two possible outcomes: you think you are better than them, or you put yourself down as you think they are better. You are different, you are called. You need one another. He calls us to work together.

Our biggest success in 15 years of 24/7 is we haven’t had a relational fall out, just much bigger. Definite decisions where we could have been bigger, more impressive, but it’s enabled us to stay friends.

He goes slow

Finally our leader calls us to go slow. He had three years to change the world and he still had time to go for picnics, parties and more. Most pastors don’t have that time. Jesus is kind of a big deal and yet he had space to live in the world. A moment of confession, have been called for a speed awareness course. What were the circumstances around your speeding, wife having a baby, but I’m a Christian and have to tell the truth, I had a satnav and when I programme in an address it tells me what time I will get there and I always want to beat it, the joy of beating it! They looked at me like I was evil!

We live in a manically driven world and our leader calls us to go slow. Youth work is slow, it’s a long journey over months and years. Maybe what you are doing feels slow, small and hidden but the bible says Jesus is more committed to your fruitfulness than you are, he knitted you together in your mother’s womb, he has plans to prosper you, he will build his church, the gates of hell will not prevail. We can trust him, we can seek him, and we can withdraw with him and he will make us fruitful.

Maybe it’s the challenge of starting with the heart and prioritising God, hey that’s how it is sustainable and enjoyable, if your joy comes from results it will be high and low, if it comes from the Lord it will be consistent.

Maybe you are in a season of hiddenness, you feel you are in a backwater, he wants to say I treasure you and have not forgotten you.

Maybe there is something about team, there is fallout, bitterness, misunderstanding, he is calling you not to get isolated. To prioritise relationships over results.

God wants to recommit ourselves to serving Him, serving Him as youth workers, not serving young people, not serving our destiny. Laying down our lives. Some have come on the verge of giving up as you feel forgotten, or a failure, or exhausted, and he wants to say thank you for what you do, the price you pay, but climb into the chair next to me and let me tell you I love you.

God wants to speak to those of you going through the motions, spiritually you are very dry. He’s calling you to come back and recommit your life, some of you might even want to become Christians again.

YC15 Blog: Powering Down: Leading through vulnerability – Selina Stone

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This morning we’re at Powering Down: Leading through vulnerability led by Selina Stone.

She’s challenged us to

Think about a time when you have shared something personal with a person you were leading …

Think of an occasion when a leader you looked up to shared something personal with you …
How did that moment impact your relationship?

Following on if we believe sharing life is really important, why do we find it so hard to do. If we believe it to be a key thing to be vulnerable and open with young people why is it such a challenge?

John 20:24-29

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’

But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

28 Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

29 Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

Thomas is nicknamed doubting Thomas but it seems a little harsh, I’d probably want some evidence too. What jumps out about Thomas?

He was so vulnerable, giving up his life to follow Jesus and so he wants to know that this person is Jesus before he is vulnerable again.
Quite brave as saying what others are actually thinking but not brave enough to say.
He hadn’t seen it first hand, he was wary of the second hand stories.
Trying to protect himself and not be vulnerable, but he isn’t cynical.
He is doubting Jesus but not written Jesus off completely.
We often replicate this in our walk, often praying for God to show up. Trying to be vulnerable in our expectation of God showing up and leading us.

Thomas is the kind of guy who wants to experience this, he doesn’t just want to hear it second hand. I want to personally experience and see something to believe in what you are saying. He learns from his mistake – not being around when Jesus came the first time – but he was there the second time. He positioned himself to believe, to receive from Jesus.

Thomas is the one who says lets go back to Judea and die with Jesus when it was all kicking off with the crucifixion. He asks inquisitive questions of Jesus. On the one hand he is doubting but on another hand he has a certain amount of faith.

How does Jesus deal with Thomas, with regard to doubting and someone who is unsure of his position?

He wants to engage with Thomas and Thomas to engage with him.
It shows Jesus’ love and faithfulness.
Love the fact that Jesus made Thomas wait a whole week!
Jesus didn’t criticise Thomas.

Jesus has gone through the worst physical trauma that a human could go through and Thomas asks to touch that thing that will bring back both physical trauma, the wounds, the mental loneliness. He lets Thomas puts his finger in the hole where the nail was, and where the hole in his side was. That could be really painful for Jesus and yet he was willing so that Thomas could have a revelation of who Jesus is. Thomas gets to one of the most profound revelations of Jesus in the New Testament through closeness and pain.


Where in your story have you experienced pain or suffering, and then seen God bring hope and joy?
Who are you leading, who like Thomas, may need to touch that wound, in order to help them believe?
When could you take time to meet with this person for this exchange?