We have some important news to share with you: our 2019 Soul Survivor summer events will be our final ones.
We know this will come as a shock to many but we believe that God has spoken and that this is the right time for us to step aside and make space for others to rise up. This is not a decision we have taken lightly but something we have been wrestling with for a substantial amount of time. Our leadership team and board of trustees came to this decision unanimously and believe that, after 27 years of events, 2019 is the right time for Soul Survivor to end.
We are enormously sad that this means we won’t be hanging out with you in the same way after 2019 – it has been the greatest joy and privilege to journey with you - but we want to make the most of this summer and next. We also want to commit to serving you as well as we can in this next season God has called us into whether that’s through celebrations at our church in Watford or through myself and other members of the team travelling around the UK and abroad to encourage and cheer you on. Ali, Andy and I will continue to work closely together and, whilst our Naturally Supernatural summer camp in 2019 will also be our last, we remain committed to encouraging the whole church to move in the power of the Holy Spirit and will explore new ways to do that.
Right from the start of Soul Survivor we always said that when God told us to stop, we would. We believe that time has come and we want to be obedient. We’ve always been humbled by the amount of support you’ve shown us and so we know some of you may feel sad about this decision but we know that God said, ‘I will build my church’ – he never said, ‘I will build my Soul Survivor’. Our passion has always been to support the local church where faith is lived out as family week in and week out, not to create our own movement.
There are lots of other wonderful events for young people and next summer we will make sure to recommend several places where we know you will be loved, encouraged and cared for. We hope we might visit you at one or two of them over the years and continue to cheer you on.
We’ve got lots to look forward to this summer and we’ll also start to make plans for how to end in 2019 with massive celebrations of all that God has done over the years. We don’t want to be sentimental but to acknowledge God’s incredible kindness, goodness and faithfulness over the years. We have much to be thankful for.
There is pain in letting go but we hold on to God’s word that, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24). Our time to serve through Soul Survivor is drawing to a close but we are confident that God will raise up new ministries for young people. We look forward to seeing all the ways that he will continue to work in you and through you as we step aside.
With much love,
We've tried to answer some of the questions we think you might have below as we want to be as open and honest about how we came to this decision as possible.
Questions you may have:
Why is Soul Survivor closing?
Mike, Ali and Andy all feel as though God told them 2019 should be the last year for Soul Survivor and NSN summer events to run. The leadership and trustees are all in agreement and want to be obedient to what God is saying.
What do you mean when you say you’ve heard God speak? Could you be wrong in thinking this is what God is saying?There is always a possibility of being wrong – no human is perfect - which is why the decision has not been made by one person in isolation. There has been complete agreement in both the leadership team and the board of trustees. We have together and individually repeatedly asked the Lord and sensed him saying this is the way. In addition we have sought wise counsel from others not directly involved, and we have taken time to sit with the decision before making it final. All of us feel peace that we have heard from him.
Aren’t you concerned about the young people who come to your events?
We absolutely love the young people we have the privilege of serving – that’s why we’ve done these events for so many years. It has weighed heavily on us that we will no longer serve them in this manner but we know God loves them far more than we do. If he is calling us to lay the events down he will have other ways of meeting with them, encouraging and equipping them, and bringing more into relationship with them. Soul Survivor is not the answer - God is! We are not the only organisation seeking to encourage and equip young people and we believe God will raise up new ministries as we step aside. There will be a number of events that we will encourage our young people to go to instead where they can be loved and supported on their journey and we continue to champion the place of local church for ongoing discipleship.
Did something go wrong? Is the closure because of lack of money/declining attendance or a moral failing?
No. Nothing went wrong, this is a decision based on following what God is saying.
Soul Survivor isn’t growing as fast as it once was and it’s hard to balance budgets whilst running a quality event but we are in a secure financial position. This really is a decision based on what we believe God is saying.
Is Mike retiring?
Mike isn’t retiring but moving into a different season of ministry. He will continue to visit churches and events here in the UK and abroad, as well as remaining the senior pastor of Soul Survivor Watford alongside Andy. After much thought and prayer, Mike, Andy and Ali (supported by the leadership and trustee teams) all agree that God is asking us to close Soul Survivor rather than hand it on to someone new. Mike began this ministry in 1993 and always said before God that he would let it go whenever God asked him to. His desire is to be obedient and to keep following God’s lead.
Will all the events run in 2019?
We will be running four Soul Survivor events in Scotland, Stafford and Peterborough in 2019 as well as NSN in Stafford. Dates will be announced shortly.
Does this include Naturally Supernatural?
The last NSN summer camp will run in 2019 though Mike, Andy and Ali remain committed to encouraging the whole church to move in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and will look at different ways to do this in the future.
Will there be a goodbye celebration? Will there be anything different about the 2019 events?
We will look at ways to mark the end of Soul Survivor in 2019 with a focus on celebrating all that God has done (whilst trying to avoid being sentimental and self-indulgent!). We have many things to be thankful for and we would love to have the opportunity to hear and share testimonies of God’s goodness.
If you’re not closing till after 2019 why are you announcing this now?
Once a decision had been reached we wanted to communicate it as quickly as we could with all concerned. We also wanted to maximise the time we have to work with other organizations that we can point our young people towards for 2020 and beyond, as well as to support our team in the transition.
Will any events run such as Saturday celebrations, NSN winter conference, and equipping days?
Soul Survivor will no longer run any of these events. Some events were run in partnership with Soul Survivor Watford church who may decide to run a number in the future (such as Saturday Celebrations) but this is yet to be agreed upon.
What will happen to Soul Action?
Soul Action is part of Soul Survivor and as such its work will finish at the same time. We are proud of all that Soul Action has achieved and hope many young people have caught the passion to live lives of justice.
What happens to Soul61?
Soul61 is a separate charity which shares some leadership, trustees and staff with Soul Survivor and so will continue.
What will happen to staff?
We need a full staff team for summer 2019 and hope that our amazing volunteers will also be able to join us so we can make it a brilliant final year of events. That means no redundancies will be made before autumn 2019 and we will complete a full consultation with all the staff team before then. We will meet with each staff member individually and on an ongoing basis to discuss how we can best support them through the process.
How many staff does Soul Survivor currently employ?
24 including part time team members and those on short-term contracts.
Does this impact Soul Survivor Watford?
The church is an entirely separate trust and as such the work of the church will not be impacted by the Soul Survivor events finishing.