How God Could Have Sent The Message

We’re kicking off our advent season tonight looking at Mary – The message comes.

The main thing we want to get across is the shock and the familiarity of God using a teenage girl.

The shock – because it’s weird and surprising! God could have chosen a billion different more secure ways than this adolescent girl!

The familiarity – because it’s what God does! He uses the surprising, the small seeming and the ordinary to do extraordinary things!

We wondered what would happen if God didn’t send a teenage virgin – and explored other options to fix the nonsense in the world.

So we threw this ‘high budget,’ three minute, total cheese intro video together to kick things off – How God Could Have Done It!

How To Help Your Young People Eat The Bible!

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“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.” [Jeremiah 15:16]

We gotta get our young people eating the Word – lapping it up like a McD Big Tasty with extra special sauce!

Here are six important posts that tackle this head on:

  1. – Video cast on an easy interpretation & exegesis tool
  2. – Nailing the first question every time
  3. – 6 killer ways to help them read it themselves
  4. – Easy study techniques that make awesome studies that are out of the box
  5. – Getting their hearts to burn for The Word
  6. – Great quote to end!


Surviving Camp With A Fully Charged Mobile Phone


Getting though summer camp with a fully charged mobile phone is like running down the side of a mountain with a dirty martini trying desperately not to spill it – good luck!

From hurrying up the tardy group member, to locating the mini bus, to checking in with concerned parents, every precious little bit of juice matters.

If you’re at something like Soul Survivor, finding a charging port can be the difference between going to the right seminar (you know, the quiet one with the wall sockets) and having to queue in the tool shed for half an hour while feigning interest in a gap year that you’re obviously ten years too old for.

Follow these simple geeky tips to be economic with your juice and stay on top of the battery game this year:

Make your software work for you, not without you.

This is an easy one! Simply make sure you’re not using power-draining apps and background software that you don’t need.

  1. Go to your battery settings and find out what apps are using power. If you don’t need them, close them!
  2. Also check out what background apps are running in your settings – close those too. Always close apps from the background after you use them.
  3. Switch off wi-fi, tethering, bluetooth, data roaming and push email clients. Also switch from 3g or 4g to 2g (or GSM).
  4. Switch off location services and GPS (once you get there!).
  5. f you have a high deff or AMOLED screen, make sure your background and lock screen are set to just black.
  6. Speaking of the screen, manually set the brightness to the lowest you can handle and drop the timeout/standby time to as low as it will go (usually 15 seconds).
  7. Get rid of your phone’s vibrate setting, and put a boring but audible single tone ringtone on instead.
  8. Look into power management apps and widgets like ‘Power Control’ or ‘DU Battery Saver.’

Discover new ways of charging your phone.

A few little tweaks, and maybe a little money will go a long way to recharge your phone without having to stand on a friend’s shoulders to reach the maintenance plugs above the loos!

  1. Turn on aeroplane mode when charging. Aeroplane mode shuts down the processing power usually used to communicate to towers. This can speed up charging time by 10-25% depending on your phone.
  2. Invest in a car charger, and spend 30 mins to yourself in an evening charging your phone. If you’ve got a small petrol engine, then you’ll be wanting to run the car for 20 mins of that time.
  3. If you’ve got the option then go for a leisure battery or electric hook up so you can charge at camp.
  4. Invest in a decent power bar / portable battery with a high capacity. Amazon are selling Anker E6 20800mAh bars right now for about twenty quid!!! These should charge your phone 3-7 times.
  5. Don’t leave your charger anywhere! Not every nice Christian person is a nice Christian person.

Be thrifty with the vanity.

If you’re on camp – be on camp! I’m a big tweeter, instagramer and facebook user, but y’know what? I’m camping!!! so I can use those data-heavy and power-hungry apps when I get home! Bring a digital camera with you instead, or just photobomb everyone else!

A Cantankerous Old Man’s Guide To Youth Work

When I was 15 one of my best friends was a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, called Cliff.

Being paralysed from the waist down after a bad car accident, Cliff hadn’t left his flat in 10 years. He was old, he was moody, he was racist, he smoked like a chimney (not just tobacco!), he swore like a sailor and drunk like a very thirsty fish.

Why on earth was this cantankerous old man one of my best friends? 2 reasons:

1. He just liked having me around!

Cliff took a genuine interest in the things I cared about. He would just sit and listen to me talk about guitars and computer games. He even bought me a large power kite one day after hearing me rave about them. He didn’t try to be like me, or pretend to be ‘one of the guys,’ he just genuinely cared about me and really did like spending time with me.

When I had major surgery, he got Iceland Home Delivery to send six large crates of junk food to my hospital bed (which fed all three Children’s wards in Blackpool Victoria Hospital). When I turned 16, he paid a taxi driver to bring a magnum bottle of champagne to my front door. What a freaking legend!

2. He gave me responsibility.

Cliff allowed me to rebuild his computers, cook him meals and do his shopping. I would tidy his house, sort his mail and charge the batteries in his wheelchair. I never had any doubt that I was valuable to him.

By the end of his life Social Services would no longer work with him. He would rage and throw things at them. I had the keys to his flat, became his next of kin and his sole carer. When Cliff died I organised his funeral – at 17. His estranged family didn’t come.

Short Safeguarding Note: For those of you with Spidey senses tingling (rightly so), my parents kept up a relationship with Cliff themselves and kept a closer eye than I was aware of.


Cliff’s Guide to Youth Work

In terms of healthy boundaries, this might not be the ideal job description for a youth worker. It does however, give us two very clear principles for youth work:

1. Show young people that you genuinely value your time with them.

Don’t fake it, don’t milk it and don’t try to be one of them. Just like them, and like hanging out with them. Show them extravagant acts of love. Don’t know how – here’s 55 ideas!

2. Give them clear genuine responsibility.

Young people don’t want to be consumers, they are wired for producing. Simple entertainment-driven youth work is now going to way of the dodo – and good riddance to bad sugar-fueld nonsense!

Get them to run things, to work on things, to lead things, to learn things, to research things, to design their own programs, to tell you what they want to learn about and to help teach each other. Let them know that they’re valuable because they are valuable, not because they boost your youth group numbers.

Let’s learn from Cliff and take the words value, extravagance and genuineness to their youth work ideals.

Thank you Cliff.

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

Part 3 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’


You can find part 1 here:

& Part 2 here:

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here:

My Youth Work Survival Kit!

 Ever had to do a last minute session on the fly? Me too – and it can be a real knock to your youth work ego and savvy when you’re fumbling around trying to make a point from a can of tinned carrots and run a game using your own rolled up sock!

Therefore I keep in my car at all times a ‘youth work survival kit.’ This includes a few Bibles (obvs!) but a few other things as well:

– Deck of cards
– A set of story cubes
– Gaffer tape
– Pens & Paper
– A ball of string
– Pegs
– Post It Notes
– Mini frisbee
– A copy of ‘name your top three’
– An inflatable beach ball / ice-breaker ball
– Blu Tac
– A power extension lead
– A bluetooth speaker
– A ping pong ball
– A packet of straws
– A couple of tealights & matches

This all fits in a shoe box under my driver seat – right next to my first aid kit! – and it has saved my youthy bacon on several occasions!

I’d love to know what you keep in yours, so post a comment and let me know!

Responding to tricky characters in your youth group (Small Group Dynamics part 2)

Responding to those tricky characters in your youth cell group.

Part 2 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’


You can find part 1 here:

& Part 3 here:

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here:

11 of the Most Common Small Groups Personalities

11 of the Most Common Small Groups Personalities

Part 1 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’

11 negative traits of personalities that you are likely to meet in your youth work’s small group.


find Part 2 on responding to these tricky characters here:

& Part 3 here:


You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here:

(sorry about the peaking microphone – I will get that fixed!!)


A Youth Work Sabbatical on the Blog

11285432175_6e540a3ddd_oSome of you have noticed that I disappeared for a while. I haven’t had a terrible accident, I’m not training to be a ninja and I’ve not discovered the joys of being a hermit.

I have been taking a blogging sabbatical.

This might just be a clever sounding way of saying ‘I’ve not been online for a wee bit,’ but it has been a healthy, albeit spontaneous online choice.



I’ve been blogging for about 10 years in various forms, but it was only in the last two that it started to make any traction. I was getting hits, subscribers and discussions going on social media, as well as having posts feature on bigger blogs around the world.

With all that extra attention came an unease with the shape and direction of my heart.

Time off from this allowed me to take perspective on who’s glory, who’s wisdom and who’s heart needs to be most clearly seen online.

Jesus tells Peter in Matthew 16:18 that HE will build His church. He would use Peter and even build on Peter, but Jesus is the master builder – not Peter.

I needed to make sure that my vision for the blog was to build his kingdom and not my empire.

I believe that coming back into my blog now – with the time behind me to take on that inventory – will allow Him to send me the readers that He wants whoever and how many that might be.

What Did I Do While ‘AFK’?


I didn’t really do anything different to what I normally would do. I carried on in my youth work job, developing my charity, training the team, ministering to and disciplining young people and seeking God generally.

I spent time with my wife, I ate good food, I went to events, spoke a at a few and I moved house. I also had three months of counseling – but that’s for another post!

What I didn’t do however was contribute to online discussion on matters of theology or youth ministry. I stayed off my blog. I occasionally came on to clear the spam and respond to messages, but that’s it.

How Did It Feel?


There were times when I was freaked out. The lack of spam filter meant that I became a coat rack for every single knock off Oakley’s glasses, Ugg boots and Justin Bieber supported product.

There were times reading other blogs and wanting to comment, wanting to add my own thoughts to the discussion. There were big things happening in the Christian world and the UK election but I was gagging to share on.

However generally it was an absolute head reboot. My thinking cleared, my time grew, and my space became a little bit more compartmentalised in the right ways. I was able to bring myself before God and take stock on who my identity is and how that matches up with my online identity.

That has been priceless.

So what now?


Well I’m back! I’m going to blog and write articles and continue where I left off. I might not publish three-five times a week (which was my pattern), but I will shoot for at least two. I will pray over every post I write, and seek God’s Holy Spirit to speak though me and to me in my approach the online arena. A few ideologies I will try to develop are:

– Writing more theologically, which is where my background, training and experience lies.
– Creating more resources that free and downloadable.
– Seeking more guest bloggers to write and be interviewed to broaden the net of experience and keep the conversation going.
– Transcribing training seminars and events that I’ve given over the last ten years to be in post format.

– Seeking more topics that encourage inclusivity, unity and networking.

What I’d like from you


Please keep me accountable! I want my heart to be God’s heart and build his kingdom rather than my empire. Please comment on posts, send messages, suggest topics and ask to be a guest blogger. I’d love for this blog experience to become less about me more about people with a heart for young people.

Thanks for taking the ride with me!