Hello, I’m Bethan and I’m one of the students currently on Soul Survivor Watford’s Soul61 leadership course. I travelled from Devon to come to Watford at the end of October last year and now, around 6 months in, I’m going to tell you what you can expect from this incredible 10 months and a little about my experience on the course by answering a few questions I would have liked answered when I was waiting to start my Soul61 journey.

What does an average week on the Soul61 course look like?

For the most part the average Soul61 working week will last five days. This includes two days of teaching (Tuesday and Thursday) that last from 9:30am – 4pm and consist of teaching from both internal speakers like Mike, Andy and Ali and external speakers that travel to Watford to speak to us about a range of topics spanning from leadership skills to the exploration of heaven and hell. There’s honestly something for everyone and if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to take loads of notes on all of them. Tuesday teaching days also include an hour and a half of personal study. So far we have reflected on Christian books of our choice, the gospel of Luke and are currently reading a book by Andy Croft’s dad. Each term we are usually expected to hand in a written reflection on what we’ve read and there have been the odd essay to hand in, but honestly doing this small amount of written work has personally made me get the most out of my time here.

For the other three days of the week, we work on our placements. I am on the worship stream so for three days a week I focus on worship and music whilst also helping the worship team with admin and the organisation of events. Currently I am organising a night of live music for Soul Survivor’s Soul Sessions series. However, there are five other placements that you will get to choose from when you arrive and they are: Youth, Children and Families, Media, Events and Community and a placement at Holy Trinity Church in Bushey.

Although this is the official schedule for the Soul61 course, we are often called upon to help at events such as Alpha, worship team nights and Saturday Celebrations, so we do end up being very busy. Also on Sundays we are required to serve at one service and attend another service for leisure. Some weeks can be really tiring but, it’s really taught me to push myself to serve and get involved in church life.

Is it easy to make friends on the course?

YES! Firstly, you immediately get to know your house mates really well, my flat found that having dinner together on the first night really helped with bonding. But, you also get to know everyone else on the course really quickly and, for the first couple of weeks people generally organise a lot of social gatherings so there’s plenty of opportunity to chat to people. Although, it’s natural to not be best friends with everyone on the course, but it does feel like a massive family!

How difficult is it manage a budget for food, the gym, trips into London, Wi-Fi etc?

Honestly it depends on how much money you have raised/been given per week. Personally, in terms of food, planning the meals I’m going to having during the week and being smart about buying own brand products and looking for offers has meant that I’ve had no problems with my budget, in fact I’ve learnt to love the challenge. However, if you do struggle, people at the church are more than generous in term of inviting Soul61s round for dinner. For everything else, gym, Wi-Fi, day trips and dinners out, it’s just about being aware of how much you’re spending and occasionally using some willpower to not spend all your money on chocolate, you shouldn’t run into any problems.

What have been your highlights so far?

There have been so many! Spiritually, God has done some incredible things through me and in me and continues to be faithful every single day. This has only been made possible by the teaching I’ve had on this course and the way we’ve been encouraged to seek God in new ways. More generally, the trip to Durban, South Africa was inspiring and so much fun. However, overall, my biggest highlight, has been meeting everyone on the course, forging friendships that will last a life time and being influenced by some incredible leaders, speakers and mentors. In short, Soul61 has let me grow as a person and as a believer and I wouldn’t change these last 6 months for the world.

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