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…

Liverpool FC need a striker

Despite spending in excess of £50m (or over £60m, depending on which reports you believe) to land Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino to bolster their attacking ranks over the summer, Liverpool have been poor in front of goal. Nobody really needed statistics to prove that statement, but have been on the prowl, and have discovered that the Reds are officially THE WORST side in front of goal in the Premier League after 12 games.

Shot Conversion Rate

184 shots and just 13 goals gives us a conversion rate of only 7.1%, putting us directly below Watford and Aston Villa… both of whom operate on a fraction of the budget being slashed around at Anfield.  Okay, the 10 goals of Jurgen Klopp’s reign in all competitions from 122 shots boosts this rating to 8.2% of late, but even that it a cause for concern, and looking to the top of this ‘division’ could be the answer.

Already linked with Liverpool, Jamie Vardy is currently banging the goals in for the most prolific side in Premier League, with 12 all told for Leicester.

The top-scoring striker from the best team in front of the net? Makes sense, doesn’t it?

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

412YC YC15 Live Blog Images7

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.