• Paul Martin


I remember the journey back from Scotland in the minibus with Laura and some of our youth. It was July 2019. We were returning from Soul Survivor and had been discussing a new initiative to develop Café Church for this new generation of young people. The youth had decided to take ownership of Café Church, and as we approached the ferry road, we came up with a new name: “Grounded.” So, including all of our young people, we would meet on Sunday evenings after church, with the expectation was that it was to be just for youth and crucially, led by youth. Therefore, if someone could play an instrument, they’d be part of a number of bands that would be formed. We’d have youngsters helping to set up the sound system, running the screens, serving the drinks, eating the doughnuts, making the place look nice and welcoming, choosing the songs as well as leading worship, doing the talks and being involved in the prayer ministry team.

So, in September 2019, we went for it. There was a buzz of activity as we all got stuck into setting up the sound for the band, rearranging the room and catching up on the week’s news. Time was tight, but we always seemed to get the sound check and band rehearsal done. The benefit of this plan was its low-key environment, a great setting for youngsters to further develop their skills in whatever role they were involved in. Many of our young people who are currently involved in worship leading in the main services, developed their worship leading experience at Grounded, as well as those with skills on screens and PA. We had some memorable messages from the likes of Si and Ad, with our meetings hosted by Em and Am.

It was also a place where we wanted people to be open to connect with God, which worked best when the lights were down low and folks felt less self-conscious about singing. We had some really special moments where we felt God speaking in different ways too. I remember one person drawing a picture from the Lord, which helped to direct our prayer ministry at the end of the meeting. It was a moment where God felt especially close.

Pictured above is a scene from Grounded in January 2020, nearly 6 months into our new venture. Unfortunately, 57 days later, we received news that we all had to go into lockdown. Two and a half years is a long time in anyone’s life, but especially long for teenagers. So, after writing one book, having many Zoom meetings, several garden gatherings and two Grounded meetings in the Dawson’s barn, we have finally got to the point where Grounded can restart. It is now a work that needs to be rebuilt, re-established and relaunched.

So, on 1st May 2022, Grounded is being relaunched! We’ll be taking the theme “Life thru a lens,” with the first session looking at the life of a person in the Bible who was amazed that God would see her and care about her future. It’s going to be entitled “If they made a film about you.” We’ll be eating fancy doughnuts, giving folks Polaroid cameras to use and taking time to reconnect with God and each other. It’s going to be very good!

I had a dream very recently where I had an Action-Man style doll in my hands. It was supposed to be alive, but it wasn’t breathing. In my dream I gave it a number of rescue breaths, eventually, after a while, to my surprise it started to breathe! As we relaunch Grounded, we are breathing new life into something good that has been established and we will see the Lord bring it to life in an amazing way.

Paul Martin is a Youth Pastor and author based in the UK.

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