The Grove Is On Fire

The Youth Group Reunion

Friday, 25 July 2014

Imagine you could get an insight into a successful youth group twenty years after it ended. Well, hooray, you can.

Last month, thanks to the joy of Facebook, someone got the old FT gang back together. Reassembled from all corners of the UK, 19 of us gathered in a curry house round the corner from that old church for a 20-year reunion. Our lives look very different now; marriages, children, jobs and house moves (and in my case a significantly healthier diet) have all done their bit to change and develop us. But perhaps extraordinarily, one thing remained the same. Every single person around that table is still in church 20 years later. Still Christian, after all these years.

Message Academy Evangelist Training

Friday, 25 July 2014

If you're young and passionate about evangelism and can train in Manchester then you should totally sign up to the Message Academy. There are more details on their website

Fun Ice-Breakers That Require a Baby

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Our son is now nine months old. He's been coming to the boys' bible study that runs on a Monday night at our flat for eight and a half months of those. When we go on camp next month he'll be there as well as his two year-old and five year-old friends. And a bunch of 11-15 year olds who are actually going on the camp.

When Paul said "I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs - how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world - how he can please his wife - and his interests are divided." (1 Corinthians 7:32-33) he was —unsurprisingly for a guy divinely inspired— right. I have to be with my wife and son first, so I just don't have as much time for repeated long days, excessive residential weekends, and drop everything young person crises. But that doesn't mean they can't be involved in my ministry. Rather it means that my ministry is in certain aspects our ministry.

I think that's great for everyone involved. Our son enjoys playing with other people and the attention he gets. He also gets to grow up seeing how church and ministry operates. He sees it as normal that people read the bible with other people. It's great for the young people as they get someone little to entertain which is amusing, but also they get to see how Christian parents try and relate to their child. That's not a "look at how we parent, aren't we great Christians", but rather "look at how we screw up and hopefully forgive each other and rely on grace and move on". And it's great for my wife and I be cause we get other people involved in helping raise our child, and we get free entertain for him, and we get to show him what Christian community looks like.

Dead Book Society: The Confessions of St Augustine

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Meanwhile, in an ongoing series, over on the Youthwork Magazine website, I review another old book for youth workers. If you've ever thought 'if only we had an autobiographical account of someone coming to faith that deeply reflected on their life as a teenager and young adult outside of Christ before their conversion?' then The Confessions of St Augustine is for you.

Free Soul Survivor One Day Pass For Youth Workers

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

There's a lot of love for Soul Survivor here, and if you, a youth worker haven't been it's worth checking out even you're not taking your youth group, just to understand the Soul Survivor experience. Good news then, that they're giving away free one day passes to their summer events. If you can get down for a day and haven't been ever, you should.

The Letters Of Saint Athanasius Concerning The Holy Spirit to Bishop Serapion - CRB Shapland

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

A long time ago, a guy called Saint Athanasius wrote a bunch of letters to a bishop called Serapion concerning the Holy Spirit. He wrote to defend the divinity of the Spirit against some people who denied He was truly God. These letters were finally translated into English and published in 1951 by a man called CRB Shapland. Alas, a year later Shapland died and though the book had a reasonably large publishing run it never got a second edition. When the publishing company shut down a few years later all rights transferred back to Shapland's estate. If you wanted to get hold of a copy and you didn't have access to a theological library, your only hope was a scan of dubious copyright on the internet.

Hooray then that the family of CRB Shapland have very generously decided to give permission to release the book online for free distribution! Below are three (THREE!) different versions of the same text, for all your different compatibility needs (I have the original as a .pages file as well if people have need to edit):

Take, read, enjoy.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

One of my pet peeves is people updating their websites with a post saying "I'm sorry I haven't had time to blog lately". If you've got something new just put it up, if you've not, why say anything? Ever the hypocrite, I'd like to apologise for the lack of content lately. A holiday, a small child, a busy time of year at work, an illness, a couple of extra talks, some writing for other things, and lo and behold it's the summer and you haven't made stupid quips online about informal education for a whole month. All that said, hopefully this week will see a bit more on this website, not least something very exciting this afternoon.

Cool at 13, Adrift at 23

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

From the department of "isn't it nice when psychologists prove the obvious", it turns out acting super 'mature' when you're a young teen doesn't lead to actual maturity.

Bookstalls For Camps

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Both the Good Book Company and Ten of Those have bookstall systems ready for your summer camps. You get the stock you want at a discount, you sell what you can and return the rest, and then they invoice you the final amount. I've no idea which of the two is better, but both are good trustworthy companies, so either way I imagine you're fine. Three suggestions on what books to stock:

  1. Stock bibles. It's amazing how many young people don't have a Bible or want to buy one for a friend. Stock the ESV Study Bible as well.
  2. Stock biographies. Stock copies of one or two missionary biographies. Something like "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew or one of Mike Reeves' biographies of Christians in particular eras. These books are easy to read because they're narratives, and deeply edifying because they show us what God has continued to do through weak men and women who've trusted in him.
  3. Stock things that'll stretch your young people. Don't just pick from the youth and children's sections. Pick books that they'll take their time over. Pick a reference book that they'll come back to (e.g. Wayne Grudem's Bible Doctrine) time and time again.

Dead Book Society: A Simple Way To Pray

Monday, 2 June 2014

Potentially the first of a series; I review old books by dead theologians for Youthwork Magazine. I keep on thinking of new old books that are worth reading for youth workers. As C. S. Lewis said; "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between." (From his introduction to Athanasius' 'On The Incarnation')

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The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. - Psalm 24:1