Category: Catalyst Festival

In the latest instalment of our interviews with people behind the scenes at the Festival, we speak to Nick Brennan, who heads up Catalyst Kids.

Tell us about yourself – who are you, what’s your day job?

Hi, I am Nick, I am married to Kez and we moved to Hedge End, Southampton in the summer to run the kids work at Kings Community Church, before this we lived in Canterbury. I work part-time for the church and for the rest of the week I work as a physiotherapist.

How did you get into kids work - is it something you’ve done for a while?

Kids work is something that I have been involved in since I was 13, a lot of my friends were involved in helping out at a large Kidz Klub in Eastbourne and so I decided to join the team too. Since then I have been involved in children’s work in Cape Town, Oxford, Canterbury and now Southampton.

You head up the kids teams for the Festival - what does that involve?

It involves heading up a brilliant team of people who lead the different kids groups, and being on the management team for the Festival. I am also leading the Ignite kids venue which is for school years 3-6. Last year God came in a powerful way in all the age groups, we saw kids saved, hear from God and healed not to mention all the fun and mess - it was a fantastic few days.

What’s the messiest kids activity you’ve ever done?

It involved a paddling pool full of water, food and fish - the aim of the game was to get as many fish out the water as possible and throw them at your team mate. Needless to say it was very messy and smelly so much so it probably won’t be repeated!

Why do you think kids work is so important?

A third of the world’s population is under 15, and between 60-80% of responses to the gospel are made by children under the age 12! If we don’t put time, energy and resources in to kids work then there will be a whole generation of people that won’t have a relationship with Jesus. It is amazing to see a child commit the rest of their life to God’s adventure and experience the Holy Spirit at a young age with the potential for them to live another 70 years completely on fire for God! I believe it is the most valuable and rewarding ministry to be a part of, but I would say that!

Tell us a joke.


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Category: Catalyst Festival

catalystyouth.jpgThe Catalyst Festival is way more than the main meetings - there's a whole load of other stuff going on and people involved. Here we chat to Ben Rowe, who heads up Catalyst Youth.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Ben Rowe one of the elders at KCC Southampton. I oversee youth work, students and Sundays and love it all. I’m overseeing the youth work at Catalyst Festival and will be preaching on the last evening in the youth venue.

Any highlights from last year?

There was a moment in a time of worship where a song started spontaneously and loads of young people fell to their knees singing! It was amazing to be in such a moment where God was so powerfully meeting with young people - loved it!

What’s in store for this year – any big changes or surprises?

This year is jam-packed full of great stuff for the young people. We want to be part of the festival much more so we are joining the adult meeting for Mike Pilavachi’s first sermon. Also, the seminars rather than being age-specific are going to be much more focussed around practical workshops. So we’re really excited about encouraging young people in their specific passions to glorify God and extend his kingdom.

What’s been the funniest moment in your time as a youth leader?

Hmmm that’s a tough one - so many, it’s such a great job! You get paid to have fun with young people!

I took one of our young guys and a couple of leaders to Ukraine last year. I had no idea where the conference was or where we were staying. On arrival we were told we were camping, which was quite funny watching the girls faces, but it got funnier!

After a few hours in the back of a car in the middle of the night we got out amongst a few small huts on the side of a mountain. Tom (17) and I were then put in the back of and old lorry with a load of camping equipment, speakers and guitars. The doors shut and we sat in the pitch black with equipment getting thrown all over us as the lorry went up this mountain even higher. We had no idea where we were, where we were going or if we would make it! I had to laugh as Tom kept asking me was this normal for an international trip and did I know where we were going!!! Nope, but its all for the kingdom!

How does Catalyst Youth fit alongside something like Newday – do you aim for similar things or are you looking to do something a bit different?

Newday is a fantastic event and as a few of us are part of the Newday team so really value and appreciate what it has and is achieving in the nation and beyond. There are elements that we would want to use from such events but the Festival needs to serve young people in its own way through the people that are part of Catalyst. Inevitably then it will look different to Newday and of course feel different because of the festival style. The bottom line is that we want young people to get excited for Jesus and realise the extravagant love He has for them and that living for Him is a privilege and the greatest adventure on offer.

Tell us a joke.

I’ve got a football one... Arsenal! COYS!

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kidswork.jpgServing in Catalyst Kids is great fun and a huge privilege. Jamie Parsonage from King's Community Church, Southampton explains what was so great about serving in Ignite (7-11s) last year. If you'd like to serve children at the Festival this year we'd love to hear from you - email servers(at)

I could talk about all the crazy games that the kids played, the atmosphere created by all the decoration and props (we had a massive pirate ship), or the leaders’ challenge (where two leaders went head to head in a challenge, the loser facing Gungebusters). But all those things were just a sideshow from what really made it a great time.

I had 9 different kids in my small group throughout the weekend – by the end of the Festival at least 6 had received words or pictures from God, 1 gave their life to God and became a Christian for the first time, 2 of them were healed from injuries, and I saw all of them grow in their relationship with God. The Holy Spirit met with them through great teaching and fantastic worship times.

And they weren’t the only ones who benefitted - my time serving in Ignite changed me forever. The relationships with the kids encouraged me to lead by example and not be afraid of what other people thought of me, and the relationships with the team provided support and encouragement to be all that God made me to be. But the greatest change for me was that after seeing God move on such a large scale among children, my faith grew to the next level. Now when I pray for God to come and meet with the children at our kids work in church, I am no longer just hopeful, but expectant.

Needless to say, I’m already signed up for this year, and I’m expecting God to do even more incredible things.

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Category: Catalyst Festival

Next up in our series meeting some of the people behind the Catalyst Festival is Adrian Hurst, who heads up the zones at the Festival. 

Tell us a bit about yourself – who are you and what's your day job?

I’m married to an amazing woman called Lucy who is a full time English teacher, and we have 3 fantastic children - Emily, Sam and Rebekah. I have the privilege of leading Oasis Church Birmingham and therefore get to live in probably the best city in the world! I am passionate about using what I have to make a difference in the world around me and to encourage others to do the same.

You’re responsible for the zones at the Catalyst Festival - what are they and why are they so important to the event?

In short why the zones are so important is because they facilitate all the festival is about - connecting, encountering and mission.

There are two kinds of zones – Festival Zones offer a variety of fun activities for different ages to enjoy and engage with. From sports to music, cinemas to gaming, bouncy castles to quizzes.

Then Catalyst Zones are a celebration of who we are and who we can be; all about conversations not seminars; and all about mission. That’s mission defined in the broadest sense by David Devenish, whose greatest desire is that the Festival will be a catalyst for mission. I’ve come across a great quote from Charles Van Engen that sums up this desire - “God’s mission (missio Dei) involves primarily the People of God as they intentionally cross barriers from church to non-church, faith to non-faith, to proclaim by word and deed the coming of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ; this task is achieved by means of the Church’s participation in God’s mission of reconciling people to God, to themselves, to each other, and to the world, and gathering them into the Church through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit with a view to the transformation of the world as a sign of the coming Kingdom in Jesus Christ.”

Those who came last year will have seen the 'tent village' in the main hall - why are the Catalyst zones in marquees and all in the same location?

The marquees give a festival feel, and having them all together has loads of advantages. It gives a Festival feel; it shows all the activities are of equal value; it helps us to celebrate diversity; and it combats individualism by letting people hear and see the other tings going on.

What were some of your highlights from the zones last year?

I had loads of personal highlights from last year. For me the highlights always come in individual stories whether it is the guy who arrived at the festival thinking there was no real purpose in him teaching and wanting to leave, attending the ‘Everything zone’ and realising teaching is exactly where God wants him to be and leaving the festival understanding teaching is his mission. Or the number of individuals I got to speak to through the ‘Sputnik zone’ (our creative arena) who shared how they always felt like they didn’t fit within church and through the festival found they do fit and knew the part they had to play. I could go on but that will do for now…

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s Festival?

The stories that will be shared as result of what God does at the festival that impacts who we are and what we do in the world outside of the festival.

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We loved the SputnikZone at last year's Festival. Once again the guys behind it have a great opportunity for writers, musicians and artists to get involved - Jonny Mellor from ChurchCentral, Birmingham explains more. 

As some of you might remember, last year Sputnikmagazine was unleashed upon the Catalyst Festival. We put on a gallery. We compiled a CD. We ran a series of workshops. Basically, we had a lot of fun and met loads of new and exciting artists from churches like ours, who wanted to use their God given talents to help shape the culture we live in.

Well, this year, we’ve been asked to do it again, and we intend to make the SputnikZone even better than last time. We’ll drip feed more details to you about what exactly this may look like as time goes on, but for the moment we just wanted to bring two projects to your attention.

1) Kingdom Project

Firstly, we’re going to be running the kingdom project at the festival. Like last year, we’re going to host an art gallery in the hall leading into the main meeting and we’re also going to compile a CD of music. However, whereas last time we simply compiled work by artists we thought were rather good, this year we’re going to open it up to anyone to submit work to either the gallery or the CD. The only criteria: all the work must be written or designed around the word: KINGDOM.

We will attempt to display all work submitted in some way, but are really looking for bold, striking, original, challenging visual art and music to get into the main gallery and on to the CatalysisTwo CD.

For a full brief and details of how to submit work, click here.

2) Catalyst Writers Anthology

While we covered the artists and the musicians quite well last year, we were somewhat lacking in terms of the creative writers. This year we want to correct that and hopefully unearth loads of talented writers from Catalyst churches. The power of a well written story to arrest and challenge a reader is hard to overestimate and a gifted lyricist can, in a mere phrase, unlock minds and hearts that could remain closed in the face of a hundred sermons or a thousand poorly penned ballads. It is a constant source of frustration then that the Christians I have met who like to write creatively, whether it be fictional prose or poetry, usually do it with some degree of secrecy, even shame. Come on, writers. Its time to exit the closet!

For a full explanation of what we are looking for and details of how to submit, click here.

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Category: Blog

Earlier this month elders, wives and senior staff from Catalyst churches gathered together in Milton Keynes to hear about the future of Catalyst – different leaders and churches working together in apostolic ‘hubs’, all within the same Catalyst family. Here, Matt Partridge from Emmanuel Church Oxford looks back at the event.

There are some occasions when you feel history is being written. It felt that Wednesday 12 February was such a day. Phil Wilthew shaped our time together with his early prophetic word of our day being a 'red letter day'. This immediately highlighted the importance of our time and raised fresh faith for what God would do and say.

It was exciting to see so many of the Catalyst leadership teams gather to hear David Devenish clearly present the way forward for Catalyst. In many ways it feels as if our work together now really begins in earnest. Martyn Dunsford invited around twenty leaders from mainland Europe and as he lined them up on the stage, and introduced each of them by name, there was a surge of excitement in the room as nation after nation was represented. One thing's for sure, with David and Martyn in the mix Catalyst will continue to be truly international!

The hope now is that every Catalyst church will get stuck into a hub and become increasingly connected with mission, both at home and internationally. All that we are becoming together will be strengthened and celebrated at the Catalyst Festival at the end of May. If you haven’t booked in already there’s still time to do so – we are in for a wonderful time!

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onething1.jpgOnly three months to go until the Catalyst Festival! Seeing as it's never too soon to think about tents and air beds, here's a great chance for you to get a head start with your camping gear. 

We're giving away a £50 gift card for Blacks (the camping shop) to the winner of our #onething competition.

To enter:

  1. Follow @CatalystFestUK on Twitter (or, if you'd prefer, like Catalyst on Facebook)
  2. Tweet us one thing you're excited about for Catalyst Festival 2014. It could be anything - God moving in the kids work, the different stuff happening in the zones, or just hanging out with your church. Make sure you include our name so we can see your tweet (@CatalystFestUK), and use the hashtag #onething. (If you're entering on Facebook, just comment on the relevant post with the thing you're looking forward to. No need for hashtags over there.)
  3. That's it! We'll randomly select a winner from the entries we receive, get your address from you and send you your prize. 

The competition runs from 12.00pm today (Monday 24 February 2014) until 23.59pm on Monday 31 March 2014. 

As you might expect there are a few terms and conditions, which you can find below. If you've got any questions, drop us a line at communications(at) But otherwise, we can't wait to hear your #onething.


Terms and Conditions

By participating in the competition entrants agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. Entrants acknowledge that failure to comply with these terms and conditions could lead to disqualification.

Contact Details

The competition is organised by Catalyst Network of Churches, registered charity 1150242 and registered company 8284434 of Woodside Christian Centre, Dover Crescent, Bedford, MK41 8QH.

You can contact us about this competition at the above address, or by emailing communications(at)


To enter the competition you have two options:

Twitter: Follow the Catalyst Festival account and tweet us one thing you’re looking forward to about Catalyst Festival 2014, making sure to include @CatalystFestUK and the hashtag #onething

Facebook: Like our page, and comment on the post announcing the competition (or other posts marked as suitable for entering the competition) with one thing you’re looking forward to about Catalyst Festival 2014.

Entry is completely free of charge, and no purchase is necessary.

Start and End Dates

The competition opens at 12.00pm on Monday 24 February 2014. It closes at 23.59pm on Monday 31 March 2014.


The prize is a £50 voucher to spend at Blacks, which can be used in any Blacks store (full terms and conditions for the gift voucher can be found here).

The winner will be chosen fairly and at random, and notified in the week following the end of the competition by Twitter direct message or Facebook message (depending on mode of entry).

The prize is not transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. We reserve the right to change the prize for something of equal or greater value.

If the prize remains unclaimed after 30 days of the competition winner being announced (i.e. if we cannot obtain a postal address from the winner), it will be deemed forfeited and we reserve the right to award the prize to an alternative winner, chosen by the same process as outlined above. The first winner chosen will not be eligible for any share of the prize in this circumstance.


The competition is only open to UK residents.

Participants must be 18 years of age or over on the closing date (31 March 2014)

Only one entry per person is allowed. Multiple entries will only be entered into the draw once. (For example, an entry on Twitter and an entry from Facebook from the same person will be considered as one single entry.)

We reserve the right to exclude offensive and/or defamatory entries from the draw.

We cannot accept responsibility or liability for entries not received, lost or delayed in transmission. Corrupted, damaged, unintelligible or incomplete entries will be invalid.

The competition is not open to the Catalyst Festival management, communications or operations teams, employees of Catalyst Network of Churches, nor anyone else directly or indirectly concerned with the organisation of the competition, nor direct family members of any of the above.


We reserve the right to re-publish all entries, photographs and other material submitted in marketing materials for Catalyst and the Catalyst Festival, but we'll always try and get in touch with you before we do (excluding Twitter re-tweets). 


This competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or otherwise associated with Blacks, Facebook or Twitter. 

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Category: Catalyst Festival

The Catalyst Festival wouldn't be possible without the different teams serving before and during the event. We asked ministry team leader Sharon Clark to tell us a bit about herself and her role with the Festival.

Tell us about yourself – who are you, what’s your day job?

I’m Sharon and I work full-time for New Life Church in Milton Keynes. The role is extremely varied – everything from ensuring we have enough toilet rolls in stock to preaching on Sundays!

Heading up the ministry team must be a pretty cool job – what does it involve what do you enjoy most about it?

The thing I love about heading up the ministry team is walking around the main hall seeing hundreds of people meeting with the Father, and being touched by the Holy Spirit. Also it is amazing to work with a team of people who are passionate about helping others to encounter God.

Any stories from last year?

Last year, many people came to a new understanding of how precious they are in God’s sight. It was also really exciting to hear of someone deciding to follow Jesus for the first time because they felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to take that step.

What are you most excited about for this year’s Festival?

This year I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of hundreds of people encountering the love of the Father afresh. As a team we strongly believe that people will be set free from past hurts, from untruths and from physical ailments. We have a Father who wants good things for us and we know that He will be pouring out blessings throughout the festival. Ask and you will receive!

Are you looking for people to join the ministry team? How can they get involved?

There is room for lots of people to serve on the ministry team and we also have space for some more team leaders. If anyone is interested in this area, they should email me their contact details, including which church they attend. They do need the approval of an elder to serve on the team.

Tell us a joke.

I’m not very good at jokes, but I do like to laugh at the lies the enemy tries to tell us. We worship an amazing God who promises us joy and life in all its abundance – and that always makes me smile.

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Category: Catalyst Festival

With only four months to go until the Catalyst Festival we thought we'd let you meet some of the people who make it happen. First up, Justyn Pride, who leads the Operations Team. 

Tell us a bit about yourself – who are you and what’s your day job?

My name is Justyn and my day job (it sounds like I must do something really exciting in the evenings!) is as Church Manager for Church in the Peak, which based in Matlock in the Peak District. Apart from living in the beautiful Peaks, I'm married to Josie, and we have three boys Reuben (5), Isaac, (2) and Levi (1). We've lived in the Peaks for 2 years, having spent 4 years in Dublin, and London before that.

You head up the Operations Team – what does that mean?

Our role is to make things happen, and to support the other teams that run activities. We cover the basic facilities that we all use. It might be the car parking, camping facilities, toilets & showers, online registration system, serving teams, stewarding, welcome teams, neighbourhoods, meeting visuals and sound, finance, security, first aid, general health & safety for the site, and looking after speakers and international guests, to name just a few. Phew - the team is busy!

How did you get into operations at a big event like this – is it something you’ve done before?

I'm actually the 'old man' of team, and last year I spent lots of time saying 'I remember at Stoneleigh…' This was because I'd been involved in Stoneleigh Bible Week for many years and was on the Management Team for it. My first involvement was leading a team in the setup week, which then followed with heading up the toilet and showers team the following year. A radio handle of 'toilet duck' by the maintenance team soon followed! I remember at Downs Bible Week [Stoneleigh's predecessor] (I was a young boy then) saying to someone from our church that were cleaning the toilets, that that was something I'd not want to do. You've got to love God's sense of humour when over 10 years later I was heading up the team.

What stood out to you at last year’s Festival – any highlights?

So many things stood out for me last year. I loved the freshness of the event. It wasn't just Stoneleigh rebranded, but something new and fresh. The creativity being released, encouraged and supported was wonderful. Just talking to a number of creative people I know and seeing how they were being newly encouraged and catalysed was great. I loved seeing churches being able to just hang out without the pressure of back to back meetings and seminars. Being able to enjoy lots of time together whether over tea in the afternoon, or wine in the evening, and to hear how God was speaking to different people, makes it all worthwhile.

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s Festival?

A couple of things, firstly - my boys in their age groups. My eldest loved it, and still talks about the Festival. These events are great for kids to be in a much large context and for their love for Jesus to be catalysed even more. Lastly I really can't wait for the worship and to encounter the presence of God whether it be in the meetings, or when you are talking to people and God is just there. There was lots of that last year.

Tell us a joke.

No joke, but one of my favourite sketches by Michael McIntyre -

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Category: Blog


At the last Catalyst Festival there were loads of great stories coming out of the Family Encounter Zone, a space where families could encounter God together in creative ways. Here’s just one testimony of God’s goodness from the event.

My son had stomach problems for over a year before the Festival, like indigestion but worse. We'd been to the doctors and they were investigating it. So far he'd been given Gaviscon to have every day and this wasn't working. It was keeping him awake at night and he had to sleep propped up in bed. He described it as fire in his stomach and chest, and it was happening every night.

At the Catalyst Festival he was prayed for at the healing station in the Family Encounter Zone. At the time he was instantly healed of tonsillitis, but also had his stomach problems prayed for.

When we came home he stopped taking the Gaviscon. I noticed that he hadn't been complaining of it hurting at night but I left it for a couple more weeks before mentioning it to him.

After a few weeks I suggested that he remove all the pillows he'd been using to prop himself up in bed because it seemed like it wasn't hurting anymore, and he agreed. 

Since removing the pillows he still hasn't had any pain at all. I reminded him that he'd been prayed for and we realised that he had been healed!  It's brilliant!

That’s just one amazing example of how the Holy Spirit was working through the last Festival. We’d love to hear from you if you have a story from the last event to share - drop us a line at communications(at)

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