Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Adventures in the Peak District

This week I have been up in the Peak District visiting my uncle. This trip has offered a chance to get away from the busy life and relax before heading off to university in a few weeks time.

Being in the countryside provides freedom to roam the fields and get to grips with nature. On Monday we went for a walk around the Derwent reservoir dam. The scenery is just spectacular.

This is a popular cycle and walk route and bank holiday Monday sure attracted a lot of visitors. I can see why. The main track goes all the way around the water, which meant we walked roughly 12 miles.

Yesterday we took a short walk into local town Bakewell (Home of the Bakewell tart). We had a look around the few shops there was and then had lunch by the river. The river is highly populated by different bird species, however wherever I seem to go there is always sea gulls!

Local farmers like to keep a variety of animals. Up the road is a small herd of not so wild wild boar. On the way to Bakewell are three Lamas and today we walked through a field of water buffalo. Not your average farmyard animals.

Being in the countryside is great but I don't think I could live there full time. I'm a city/town boy through and through. I like people. And there aren't many people in the country. Being here this week has really confirmed that I want to live in a big city one day. Where? I don't know yet. I guess we shall just see.

We have a few more days up here so i'm sure I will post some pictures before the week is over.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Sproul, Driscoll, Chandler and Tchividjian Panel Discussion

Very interesting panel discussion between these four very respected pastor/preacher/theologians. Check it out!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Man, The Message, The Mission

At the annual youth camp Newday, I was bought a copy of a book called Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission by Darrin Patrick. Patrick is heavily involved in the Acts 29 church planting movement alongside men such as Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler. I hadn't heard of Patrick prior to reading this book so I was not sure what to expect.

The cover itself is very striking. At first I thought I had been bought a horror novel, but soon saw the title. The cover offers a great glimpse into what Church Planting is actually like. As Patrick shows, it's a lot tougher a task than it is often made out to be. We see all these successful plants all around but we very rarely see all the hard work, times of desperation and stress that go into it.

Patrick has written a brilliant book, aimed mainly at an American audience which was it's only downfall for me. At times I found it hard to engage with it as it isn't aimed at British readers. Despite this there is a lot that we can learn from Darrin and his buddy's over at the Acts 29 camp.

If you are a man currently in ministry, a man feeling the call of God on your life for pastoral ministry or church planting, this is a book for you. Check it out and let me know what you think! 

FP Impact 2010/2011

I find it slightly strange, if not crazy looking back and thinking that a whole year has gone by. Most of you who read this blog will know that I have spent the last year at Gateway Church Poole doing a FP Impact year. This is a year dedicated to growing in your relationship with God whilst working in the local church.

The year provides opportunities to develop gifting and more importantly character. You are well and truly thrown in the deep end, out of your depth often not knowing what to do. This is the beauty of it. When you don't know where your next months rent is coming from or where you are going to be after the year, you are forced to run to the steadfast rock that is our God.

There were several times in the year that I thought about jacking it all in and just moving back to Winchester and working. There were times when I struggled to sleep because of an upcoming task I had to do. Through it all I have found God to be so faithful to me. Never letting me out of his safe grip whilst at the same time allowing me to be tested. His grace has really been overwhelming.

Many people choose to stay at their home church for the year. I chose to move away to experience life away from home as well as a new environment---if you are going to do an Impact year I would definatly recommend this option. Doing this provided me with freedom to grow and to be myself without any of the baggage that I had back in Winchester. It also gave me to opportunity to make many new friends and to get alongside many fathers in the faith.
I am a firm beleiver in the caught not taught method of learning. I believe you can learn just as much, if not more just from hanging out with someone than by them teaching you. This year has provided fantastic opportunities to hang out and learn from men who love God, love their wives and are amazing fathers to their children. It has been invaluable spending time with, being encouraged and more often than not corrected by these men. Thanks to James Pope, Jon Clark, Alan Mainstone, Matt Hosier, Mark Absolom, Steve Cox, Gordan Carter and Rich Stamp. There are many others whom I am also very grateful to.

Another beauty of the year is being able to share it with other people. Gateway had three students this year Rich Fishlock, Jacqueline Bennion and myself. I also need to include Elsbeth Barnett in this section as well because even though she was not a Impact student she served as the church administrator. These three have proved to be three of my closest friends. I cannot be more thankful for the times we have been able to spend together. A man could not ask for three better companions in his pursuit of God! You are all an inspiration and massive encouragement!

The year also helps you to see and to clarify what God is really calling you to do with your life. We all have a calling and our callings will all be very unique. God has really been speaking to me and preparing me for my future. I have been in a church where the word of God is esteemed very very highly and it is faithfully preached week in week out, with extreme care and accuracy. The church also knows how to worship God. Some of my favourite nights with the church were our prayer and praise evenings where we would just sing and praise God using his word.

I could probably write a whole book on my experiences as a FP Impact student, that's the extent of how much you gain and get out of the year. None of it would really be possible without support from so many people. It would be impossible to name them all. I really want to thank everyone at Gateway Church Poole for being a church where there is evidence of the grace of God. Just as Barnabbas encouraged the Antioch church I want to encourage you to stay true to the Lord with your whole hearts (Acts 11:22-23).

I also want to thank my friends and family who have been praying for me and supporting me in anyway possible, whether that be financially or by being an encouragement. Thank you also to Winchester Family Church for your love, support and prayer throughout the entire year.

What a fantastic year. I am excited for all that is ahead of me. Grace and peace to you all!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


7000 teenagers, lots of tents, thunder lightning and floods, great camping food, destroyed marquees and a whole lot of worshipping our sovereign God. It can only be Newday! Last week Verve youth group (part of Gateway Church Poole) travelled to Norwich showground to join with other teenagers from around the country and even greater from other nations.

Newday is Newfrontiers big youth event. This year was the eighth year that it has run, and God's hand has been upon it. Every year it seems to get bigger! I have gone for the previous four years as a member of Winchester Family Church's youth group, but this year was a big change as for you first time I was a leader!

For leaders, the weeks leading up to Newday are a mix of emotions. You are excited to see God transform the young peoples lives but are also anxious about the pranks that they are planning. Being one of the worst youth to ever grace the Newday campsite, it would have been justice for the youth I was in charge of to terrorise me. But God is gracious and he gives us what we don't deserve!

The Gateway Church group had a great time. We had late night fashion shows, late night farting competition (...leaders...), water fights, water slides with tuna on them (thanks Elsie Barnett) and morning sing songs. Camp morale was very high! I must say, this year was my favourite year of Newday purely because everyone got along, we had a great time together and you could truly see that we are a family.

Newday is well known for its bible teaching. As ever it was of the highest standard. Stef Liston kicked the conference off. He is really becoming one of the best preachers around. The man just oozes passion and humility. We were also blessed by having Steve Chong join us from Sydney Australia. He spent four mornings preaching to us and served us brilliantly.

If you have never been to Newday I would highly recommend it. Even if you go as a server, the experience is worth it. This may be the last year I go. We shall see. Thank you God for giving us Newday and for using it to raise the next generation of disciples and thank you Newday for giving us great memories and opportunities to meet with God.