Not really been to church in a while

I have not really been to church in a while, I still get involved with things but not as much as I used too but its not that I’ve grown out of it, more that I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want too.

Earlier this week I went to a friends wedding, I’ve known her for years – we met at one of the events, harvest in the north east helping with stewarding and onto different events and came good friends. I met a lot of people that were Christians and really did enjoy the discussions and chat that was going on – I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it, and got me thinking to what I used to do.

Back then, and I’m only going back about 10 to 15 years when the internet was “safe” or there was less ignorance of the dangers I used to chat online to pretty much anyone – I’d often go into chat rooms and have discussions, and forums but not something I do anymore – there is usually too much spam being broadcast too but maybe I’ll find somewhere again.

I do plan to go to church, and thats maybe the downfall – its just a plan… something I could do. I really enjoy it when I attend but the thought of do I sleep and enjoy the dream world just that bit longer or get up and go out… choices choices… I know which would benefit me more but choices… I sometimes have difficulty with.

I really got put off going at the start of the year. I had planned to go to church and take a friend while in London. I’d been to the church and when I’d been previously, it had been encouraging, lively and enjoyable… but this time – very different. Throughout about 80% of the service it was all about getting money out of people for things.

I had wished I’d left after the second installment of it, the energy was so overpowering and felt like it was squashing the life and positivity in it all. I thought of leaving, but I’d taken a friend with me and I thought… maybe its just starting up, and some of the songs were fun too but they just went on and on and on about money… I know churches need cash but there is a line between saying so, and constantly going on and on, and re-wording it to repeat it again and requesting more and more offerings from people… I’d wished we’d never gone.

It put me off church stuff, and even though I know my own church isn’t like that – the idea of it put me off… The thought that if it put me off and I was happy to go – how would it affect those that don’t often go – can’t be good

I’ve been involved loads when at Spring Harvest, and already have my name down for next year and loved it then. I can honestly say that when I surroung myself with like minded people – life is often a lot better. Still difficult but at the same time comforting. I get it from both friends of intellect and those of faith.

I’m looking at what makes me happy, and trying to discover if there is a consistant way to do it, or do I keep at life of doing lots of little things… well thats my thought for today.

Day 18 – My Beliefs

I became a Christian in 1988 or 1989 – I was about 10 years old, and felt in my heart and soul it was the right thing to do – it just made sense even at 10 years of age. Since then I’ve re-dedicated my life to Christ multiple times.

When in youth sunday school at the tab church I often felt the power of God in my life, often when we went away and life was away from school, and home life – where I could be free to believe and know that those around me didn’t judge me. I would be a lot more faithful then.

In February 1992 I started to go to an event named “Crucible” where a lot of youth groups met together and worshipped God together. There was around 200 people there when I started and the event had to move to different locations as it had around 400 people going each month – always based in the Tees Valley.

In 1994 I went to a youth camp named Harvest – The theme was “Everybody needs somebody” and was using music from the Blues Brothers theme tune. I went with The Tab Youth group.

While at school I discovered that many schools had a Christian union, but mine did not – myself and a group of others tried to set one up and had a small group of students meeting together once a week. It didn’t really work out – we didn’t know what was to happen just that there should be one. So without a real plan we went out and tried. Now they have one thats going well at the school but that many years since.

In 1995 I stopped going to church, I didn’t see the point anymore.. The sermons seemed to be repeated and the information stale. I’d been told I had to go into the main church now and youth church was no longer an option. I found the services tedious and quite boring so stopped going. I continued going to the crucible events each month and Harvest but otherwise church was out.

In 1997 I started University and was determined that I would not let people dis me for my beliefs – I would not make friends for them to throw religion at me..

So I introduced myself with “Hello my name is J… and I am a Christian” – It totally terrified me of the response and was so glad to find the first person I asked replied with.. “Hello my name is T… and so am I” which was a relief. I was later to find that no-one else in the class felt the same way so wow, I think that was a good sign and is still a great friendship.

We joined the Christian union of the University and were members throughout the time of University. At one point for a year I was involved in running part of the group which was an honour.

Uni was a suprise to me at how people seemed to look at people and the world, it was more of an accepting place of “oh, you believe that… thats nice” and not such ridicule for believing in God.

I found friends from all over the country and world that also believed as I did and were supportive and helping althou we were all doing totally different things in life, we are all following the same Christ.

It got me thinking as to why people from different denominations didn’t work together – always confused me – people asked me what my denomination was – I’d say “Christian” and they’d ask which type… I thought “There’s only one” and reply “Christian, Were all in this together”

In 1999 I joined a church named “Riverside” – I went after a friend bugged me continually about going for several weeks from the Christian Union [CU] – the services were quite long but enjoyable. They had a youth church on a friday night – around 20+ went which was nice. We would sing, and worship, games, pray and learn together support whatever any of us were going through.

In 2000, we heard about a mission event that was going to happen in Manchester at summer time – something that hadn’t happened before named “Message 2000” – two weeks of working in the area supporting the people there though running youth/children groups, clearing gardens and decorating homes and speaking to people about God. There was invitation to events on the night where bands would play in the areana and got around 14,000+ people turning up.

We went for week 2 of the project, where we camped out in groups in a park in manchester and worked on different teams in the area. I was working on a kids group team. Over the 2 weeks around 10,000 Christians joined together and helped out.

We also went out in small groups of 2 or 3 and spoke to people about out beliefs. This terrified me and on the first day when I tried to speak no sound came out – I was embarrased, and scared but nothing bad came from it… The next day, we went out again and spoke to people successfully.

Many people didn’t want to know and shrugged us off, but there were a lot of people willing to talk and convesations would go on and it was good. A lot of oposing ideas but people were listening and responding – something I was not expecting and felt blessed for it.

Around 2001 I went and got baptised – this isn’t the same as a Christening, this is showing people that I do believe in Christ and want God in my life – a public demonstration where I had many friends and family attend and see me leave one life and come into another.

I have continued to go to Harvest althou not as a patron any more, since around 2000, I helped with stewarding which helps keep the place running safely. In 2009 I tried a spot on the Ministry team which allowed me to pray with others – not that they couldn’t pray themselves – more as a faciliatator helping when stuck. In 2010 I am not doing stewarding – but intend to help with the ministry team as this is where I feel I am directed now.

In 2006 an event named NE1 was ran where several churches all from the North East of England met up in chester-le-street and spent a week going out helping people in the area. From Clearing gardens, and painting to spending time with people and running childrens groups.

NE1 reminded me of the Message 2000 event but was local to the North East where I am instead of another part of the country.

I helped with stewarding and anything else I could help with there. A fun time, great hot dry weather and wonderful friendships made aswell as seeing so many peoples lives changed through Christ.

In Late 2006 I moved back to the church I started at – The Tab where I attended and could get involved with things. They had a 20s to 30s group that met each week on a friday at Borders on Teesside Park at 7pm ish til closing. A time to chill out and be with other Christians not in a church setting – Not sure its still on since Borders closed but there are many coffee shops around there now.

Over the what been 23 years since becoming a Christian, I’ve fell away from God and the Faith many times but always have came back. If I look at all the times when I’ve been truely happy there has always been A God aspect to it all so that where my focus should be.

I don’t know what to expect from life in the future, or even in the present really but think that its going to be an amazing adventure.

A few bible verses come to mind:

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– I had always read that passage and missed the point of future – I’ve always looked at what NOW, and not future but to know that there is going to be a future and I will be looked after – I like that.

Psalm 139:1-3: O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down;you are familiar with all my ways.

– To know that God knows everything is amazing and scary at the same time, but to know that someone is in control is a great thing to realise. Especially when they know what you are able to do and give you the power to do it.

In mid 2008, and spread over 10 weeks there has been a local event named Just 10, I’ve wrote about it here but its been a truelly local opertunity to see around 5,000+ people coming together and worship God together.

Lots has happened since then but I’ve not quite worked out how to put it into words that I can share yet, but it will come in time.

I currently (when I go) attend a church in Stockton named The Vine. Its a small church but its where I feel I fit in. I’ve many friends there and discovered that many of the friends I made in different churches over the years before getting here have also settled here too. Services are around 1.5 hours, and the sermon times are closer to 20 minutes. The regular sweet things after such as donuts, and cakes are a bonus and give people a time to chat afterwards.

We have small groups that meet once a month, and more through virtual online groups where we chat on whats been spoken about in church, eat together and support one another through whatever is happening in life. When I’ve not been to the actual church and groups I often get emails asking how I am and how is life which is great but not so many that is seems like pressure. A nice balance.

I don’t think that a belief is something that is static, I think it can grow with time and more understanding comes with it all. Its something you learn about, even when you don’t want too and can shape your life or at least, it has shaped mine.

Euphoria – Friends or God?

I can recall times of being lost within myself but totally happy at the same time. Times in worship at different things including church, harvest, spring harvest and IXth hour where everything just feels right and time – time is something that is there but doesn’t seem to pass – there is just a joy and happyness feeling completely safe and that you don’t want to end. A kind of euphoria that to be is honest and I do miss.

I watch on TV some of the things that happen on the God Channel, a channel I’m not that fond of on tv – I find that a lot of the time it makes what I believe in look silly and not serious. I find what I believe in shapes life – its not just a sunday or an event thing but something that really helps shape me, be it in how I speak, act and relate to people.

How I can encourage others, and look to their gifts in the world and see what they could do with their lives if they choose too. I think people are all amazing… some are annoying but were all made to like and not mix so well with others… but were all in this together… Someone for everyone.

When i was a child, I did not have many good friends – only around 5 in total and still today 20 years on I still have those good friends and now so many many more. Some that are so close and supportive and I feel really blessed for it and see so many posibilities for many of them.

I thought that no-one really liked me, I had difficulty speaking with people and just being myself, always trying to slightly be like others but keep my own flavour too. Always believed that I am who I am, I can try to be “like” others but thats never truelly going to be me.

Over time, I have grown thankfully… I have many friends in many diversities of life, mixing interest from allsorts from trampolining, and dancing to church or just to go out and play pool, swim or ten pin bowling. Some I can talk technical with and know that will inspire me and I them in issues that at first seem difficult and then exciting…. still difficult but knowing that others will support you in them.

I am blessed and thankful to them all. I see it as a very different euphoria with friends… I am really happy when I am with them, and talk, chat online with them. We work well together and well, enjoy it too – a true euphoric time here on this plain of existance.

Harvest – The beginning

It felt very strange tonight to start with, first with the setup – I just got on with it, no rush to meetings. One of us was requested to go to meet team, I stayed back, pegged up & Blew up air beds.

I went to loaves and fishes, where to sit? All stewards in a meeting – I felt very out of place. Sat with YFC team, I’ve worked with them on a few things, felt very strange. Team meeting ended and I went over and mixed.

Nice night over all, some new friends – several old but can already feel that this will be a last as this part of life is over. I do feel as thou I am re-living a dream and enjoying the nostalgia. A safe place, but its now time to act – step out of the easy safe surroundings and go out and find life.

Not sure I’ll get online, so far no signal 🙁 Maybe thats a good thing.

What is stopping me from doing what I want to do and be

What is stopping me from doing what I want to do and be. Before I have blamed expectations, or medical reasons but in reality none of that should really stop me. I’ve always had my family back me in whatever I choose to do even if it seems odd sometimes.

I recall talking with them one time, about myself younger and some of the passions I had. I used to be so enthousiastic about the environment and animal care and try to fight for causes as much as someone could while at school… This usually involved letters that never got quite completed and talking with chat and discussions about what could be done but in some time I lost the passion for things.

I was told they were suprised that I had not joined some organisations like greenpeace with my earlier passion for things. I stopped going for what I really wanted because I thought that I was expected to be something else. For a long time, I have tried to live up to others expectations to realise that some of the time those expectations never existed.

Over the past couple of years, from about the age of 27 (I’m 31 now) I started going for things I wanted to try and do – From trampolining to dance, and the many types of dance. I really enjoy it and slowly I am getting better at it, I’m a slow learner at it but really do enjoy it all the same.

I thought people would be “funny” about me going for it and at first some were… but most, if not at first realised it made me happy and then supported me in it. This year at harvest, I went on the ministry team and not stewarding and althou it was quite difficult it really was nice the support I got from people. I was amazed by those that knew me and those i’d just met on how much support there is out there.

Its taken me a long time to realise that I am the one who makes the difference in life, that if I choose to do something I should go for it whole heartedly because with passion you can’t wait to get started, and don’t want to stop and only stop to rest. There is so much I want to do, and I feel I’ve really waited too long to getting round to it.

I am really glad I started writing these notes online, as its allowed me to see the progression and changes in attitude and read back comments left, and messages received.

I’ve never actually known what I want to do in life, but I do feel that what ever that may be…. Its coming sooner now than ever before and I’m looking forward to it. I can do what I’m doing already effectivly however I want to do something passionitly and joyous at the same time – something to want to get up and started, and to help others as well as new things because of it developing myself and others around me.

Its nice to have some kind of target now, and this time its ALL about ME… and where I want to be and what I want to do.

What happened over summer 2000…

I went to message 2000, Just as my other friends have and saw so much. I expected a few meetings together, talk to a few people and have fun. I was wrong and was told I was going to “Evangelise” – Well thatscared me, I thought “Me? Why me?, someone else can do that, anyways I can’t do that”

Have you ever really thought about it “Can I evangelise>” Let me put it another way… “Can I help? and tell someone about God?” In basic terms:

  • God loves you and Cares
  • God wants you to be free

Jesus came to earth, from heaven, grew up and worked, then for 3 to 3.5 years he set out on foot, and spoke to thousands of people about God his Father.

During this time he did miricles and healed many people. To top off everything, He set us free from Sin. Sin is the wrong stuff we do… From pinching something to hurting each other. Jesus died on a cross and othe the third day He rose from the dead and appeared to many people.

He then rose into the sky, and the Holy Spirit was sent to be with us and Jesus gave the commandment to tell everyone that they can be saved and all they need to do is believe.

Believe that Jesus died for their sins and invite Jesus to live within them.

The message is still the same after 2000+ years.

Well I realised all the gospel was, is Jesus’ Life and I knew about that, how else was I a Christian if I hadn’t heard the gospel before.

Anyway, at message 2000 which was based in Manchester, we were split into teams, all about 10 Thousand and send out to work on projects in and around manchester.

Talking with others

Myself, and another from our church group were on a Childrens Project which was basically playing games and listening to them. We also went out and spoke to people on the streets. It was actually fun which I seemed strange but cool. Some ignored us but most people were interested. I was suprised.

We went out in pairs to talk to people about God, the first day I went I was really nervous. I’d seen others seem to do it and really didn’t like the idea that I was to talk but wanted to have a go anyhow. It didn’t quite go to plan, my partner lead the initial speech and passed to me… I had words but no voice came out – I totally froze – my partner took over and the chat continued.

The next day, we went out again – I was determined to try and get past it and yet again, my partner started the talk and them passed over to me, this time it was different – words came out and the other person didn’t just shoot me down – it was a conversation and it was good… I continued the rest of the day fine.. a lot easier than I first thought.

The night events were great: An Arena full of youth about 12 to 14 thousand people all praising and learning more about God together.

I now feel I have a heard to see God work in Childrens lives after working with them. Friends from church has said they’ve seen a change in me, which is for a posative.

Harvest 2000

One night at harvest was particularly awesome
– a night of true passion.

We were on the last night, praising in the large tent like most other nights of harvest – singing worship to God where everything seemed to change.

Worship was everything, I could feel the presence of God in the large tent. We started at 7pm, and the event was still going at 11pm and felt a peace that was amazing. You had to praise – nothing else felt right or approproate.

I can not expl;ain what happened & don’t think I want too… but was pleased that I was a part of it. The band “Soul Survivor” could not lead but the crowd leaded about 7 to 9 hundred young people, mainly teens.

Can you imagine it?

It was a good God Filled summer, now to continue with life and hopefully not loose that passion that feels like a fire bubbling trying to get out.


Harvest is an event in the North East of England originally based at witton castle in county durham, but now based in Teesside. It is for young people to connect together for around a week, and get to know God in a different way.

I started to go to harvest in 1994, I was around 14 to 15 years old and went with the church I was with at the time called The Tab – I made so many new friends while I was there, and learned how worship could really be expressed by youth and not just hyms in church but actual music you could enjoy singing and dancing too. There was many games, seminars, and workshops of sorts – be it learning, how to put into action or having fun.

There used to be a game – a challenge between the villages of harvest. People were split into 4 colours of village depending on the area you came from in the North East.

The challenge was its a knock out – they played it each year until around 1998 and it has never been seen before. Basics of it was silly games that involved a lot of water – knockout with sticks with foam on ends pushing one another trying to make the other person fall or bobbing for items in buckets aswell as physical challenges but all in the idea of fun. I enjoyed it a lot.

I went to harvest as a participant til around 1999 (aged 19/20 ish) after which I joined the stewarding team. I initially joined because many of my friends were already part of the team, and we were hanging out already. When I started stewarding you still paid to go, a few years in they stopped charging staff and it was kind of just accepted. From this year, they’re asking people to put something towards costs which is understandable but they seem to be getting a lot less people volunteering now.

9 years of helping out stewarding – I’ve seen many ideas on how to work it, how to help and what has or has not worked. People do seem to be repeating past things and don’t often believe its been done before – or not done as the circumstance often is. This year, 2010 I am not doing the stewarding at harvest, I’ve enjoyed my time there but its time to move on like so many friends already have.

Last year (2009) I was on stewarding team primarily, and ministry team secondary – I learned a lot, or so it felt so. People suprised me and opened up and it was good. It is time for me to do something different.

I am not sure what this year I will be doing at harvest if anything, I’d like to go and see how it is without being on the staff side althou I am not sure that is even possable. I think I will apply to be on the ministry team once again so I can help out, but also enjoy the site and see things before ending.

I feel it may be my last year helping out there, and this saddens me as it is an event that has helped me for a long time, over half my Christian life, and about half my actual life. Its helped me meet with many like minded people and has been very enjoyable but just as last year was my last year to steward, this may be the last to help before I am just a visitor.

All in all, Harvest has been amazing for me – so many new friendships and many ups and downs. Enjoyment from wandering, talking, playing, and listening. Its been a good time in life that I am glad I’ve had the oportunity to have.

Some people I made friends with in 1996, I was working with on team in 2005ish – we all said to one another – I know you, but I don’t know how? From photos I found later in the year, I discovered we’d all hung out together as one random group in a tent for a few days one harvest – some 10 years ish earlier but had lost contact – well before internet and email was the norm.

Harvest – Psycological Re-boot

I went away to harvest this year calm and knowing that this year was just like most years. I steward, chat and chill with people. I seem to meet people more on a personal level now than just those I work with… Think its got to do with the amount of time we’ve worked things together.

I went there trying new things like the ministry team – to try and stretch me.

I also went there open to what God can do in my life. How I can do things differently but also took a back seat to volunteering myself into more things. I did the ministry team when i could but also saw myself as in a settling place – somewhere I fitted in but didn’t too..

So much changed and to talk with others there again also feeling the same change, and they’ve only done it a fraction of the time there. I think Harvest is now a past rather than present thing for me and a few others.

I left harvest feeling some decisions in life were actually happening. I saw people on teams that haven’t worked well before work amazingly well together and support one another when it actually mattered.

I felt a part of the many things that were holding me back just gone. I can’t explain what was holding me back but the weight was not there so much – I felt so much more relaxed and more like me again. A side effect means people see a lot more sarcasm but thats just who I am.

It felt great – a friend said it was like a psycological reset – I had returned to an earlier happier person again and it is good to see me again.

Harvest – My Beginning Time

I’ve gone to harvest since 1994, on and off for the first few years. Since 2000, I’ve helped on the stewarding teams with a variety of people now.

The first year I attended, the topic for the week was “Everybody needs somebody”. This seemed to hit home really strongly.

I was part of a church youth group, I got on with a few people but not many, and I wasn’t close to any inparticular. I knew of Christianity and believed in it althou still with many questions. I was a mid-teenager with a lot of questions in life. I still do now but then it was really confusing.

I went there with the feeling of knowing no-one. I wanted to go to things no-one else in the group wanted too and so instead I went out and mixed. I spoke to people, people that if I was at school I would be too scared to try – but all these people didn’t know me and if they complained I’d just go elsewhere.

I will always remember meeting a few other people there – some of which I made great friends with, some I never saw again. One person seemed troubled and talked to me. I didn’t feel alone, but felt comfortable trying to help another.

We went for a walk one night, I didn’t realise i was meant to tell my youth leaders… we wandered and talked for a while and found ourselves at the enterance road and headed round in a loop. We didn’t get back til after 11pm and my youth leader was not pleased probably to say the least.

The event had a lot of loud, fast, rythmic music that was fun to sing, and join in with. We prayed, talked, were spoken too and in some times felt so much inside that it was hard to explain.

There was games on a saturday: Football, Rounders and Its a Knock out.

Its a Knock out – probably totally against Health &  Safety laws of nowadays but so much fun. Four coloured villages playing against one another in a variety of crazy games. Nothing really won apart from the Joy of beating the others.

I remember things on Sale such as a T-Shirt with the branding of Harvest, and the topic for the year and the year. Something to remember it all by except well… memories.

Harvest – Ministry Team

This year 2009, I joined the ministry team at harvest. I’ve done stewarding 8 years before this and at other events and it interested me last year to do it but I didn’t go forward for it – I didn’t feel ready for it.

Well this year, I didn’t really feel ready for it but felt that I should go for it and see how it goes. I’d seen the training for it, as stewards we were put through it for the past year or so just so we knew what was happening.

The Ministry Team meant that I would be praying with people that came forward. Something that scares me really. I have enough trouble praying out loud nevermind with others. I didn’t know what words to use or what to say but hoped and prayed that the words would come.

I couldn’t be involved with a lot of the events that were on for the ministry team as it overlapped with the stewarding a lot but I got the chance to work with someone – to shaddow them basically – watch how they did it but be there at the same time.

First night, I watched – I didn’t get involved but felt pulled to the event. I was outside in the control room for stewards when I felt compelled to go into the main event and be there. I stood at the side and watched and felt a buzz inside and something telling me I had to be there tommorrow.

Tommorrow came, and I was there – It felt like something was building up but I didn’t know what. I enjoyed the main event – the talking and singing. I wasn’t a steward for the event so could be involved totally… At the end I found the guy I was shaddowing and spoke with him.. there was a call and we went forward to help.

They were talking about new people becoming christians. We had to speak to the kids and find out what they understood and then pray with them. I was quiet, and allowed my friend to speak it all with me just nodding and smiling. After they prayer was done – I spoke with them and collected info, gave booklets and things while the other guy went to help someone else.

Soon after I went looking for the guy, I couldn’t see him… but someone asked me to pray with them. I did hesitate, but said I would try to help them. I didn’t do anything fancy, just prayed and words came. It wasn’t long either but the person said Thanks afterwards and went on their way.

I found out afterwards that I got a reference back from my old youth leader and ex steward team leader to say I could do the ministry team. He told me that he believed in me which was quite awsome to hear aswell – I think i needed to hear that from a leader and good friend.

It felt odd, but kinda awesome at the same time. Such a simple task made such an impact in their lives and mine. It has got me thinking there is a lot in the Christian life thats mis-understood and easier if you try… I wonder whats next.

Even if I decide not to steward this next year, I think i’ll put my name down to be on the ministry team.