I thought I knew a thing or two about what it meant to be a leader, I thought I knew the Bible pretty well and believed I knew myself as well as I ever could. Soul61 taught me otherwise. Less than a week into the course I realised I had a lot to learn.
My time on Soul61 was a rollercoaster. I was challenged mentally, physically and emotionally at every turn but I wouldn't change a second of it.
"That is what the Bible is, it's the living word of God, it's relevant to us today and it's the most exciting book ever written."
The teaching sessions were top class. We heard from a massive variety speakers and charities who made it their mission to inspire and equip us to serve Jesus wherever we find ourselves. I now know the Bible so much better than I did before and I have learnt that it is so important to wrestle with God's word and try to discern what it means for us today. Andy Croft's teaching was especially helpful because he takes a potentially boring or hard subject brings it to life, make it relevant and then excite us about it. That is what the Bible is, it's the living word of God, it's relevant to us today and it's the most exciting book ever written.
I learnt so much on my placement at one of the churches that Soul61 is connected to. At first I was a little sceptical because this church was a more traditional Anglican church and I had almost no experience of the church of England before this. God really challenged me during my time serving at this church but every second of it was completely worth it. The most important thing I will take away from my time there is that it doesn't matter what form our worship takes, whether it be contemporary music or traditional liturgy, makes little difference to God. What matters is our hearts and our willingness to worship regardless of our preferences and our church backgrounds.
My biggest surprise of the year came out of my placement too. God began to talk to me about becoming an Anglican priest, something I had never even considered and originally resisted. I am now in the early stages of the discernment process to become a priest.
God also taught me is that everyone has a past, even the most holy looking church leaders. But God doesn't want us to stay the same, throughout the year it was amazing to see God heal and fix each and every person on the course. I believe that every single one of us has come away with a stronger, more rich faith and God has set us on a journey to becoming more like Jesus every day.
My advice to you if you are considering applying for Soul61 is this. Prepare to be challenged, changed and moulded into a biblical model of leadership. Prepare to serve and prepare to have the best, most exciting, completely fun 10 months of your life.