New Ground Kids - Introducing Matt

What do you get when you cross a drinking, smoking, university dropout with a background in aviation and care work…with Jesus? A 0-18s Pastor and Elder at Jubilee Community Church, East Grinstead in 2021 of course!


I was in a bit of a mess when I moved to East Grinstead in 2004. So much so that God led a very wise Lead Elder and his family to welcome me into their home without knowing quite what a mess I was in. They saw something of God’s heart for me and I’m forever grateful they did, not least because I was so blind to it. 


I joined the youth team at JCC really quickly (maybe too soon but God doesn’t wait for finished articles, does He?). I knew I wanted to walk with Jesus and the youth team were doing just that and having fun with it. The community youth club had up to 200 teens coming including a few rascals and it turned out they were my favourites. Sometimes the team had to keep an eye out for my behaviour more than the teens but after getting baptised in October 2005 I knew youth work was where God wanted me.


Jump ahead to November 2019 and I’m standing at the front of our church, with my wife Lizzy and our two boys Caleb and Joshua, being prayed into eldership. My parents were there too – boy did they have a rollercoaster with me and my sister.


There is a Hillsong worship song called Saviour King which says “Hope which was lost now stands renewed”…What an anthem for my life!


I started working as the 0-18s Pastor at JCC in 2016. In that role I was leading the youth directly but overseeing the excellent pre-school and primary age kids workers. I had always loved being around children, they give such licence to be child-like, it’s infectious, but I’d had no plans to lead kids work. However, early on both children’s workers stepped down and I was fully immersed in all things 0-18s. What a learning curve…but I loved it. I had always been passionate about youth, but our first son was only 1 and I found that I became passionate about the age groups relevant to my own kids.


In March 2020 we were all hit by the coronavirus lockdown and restrictions and there were aspects of getting church up and running online that were exciting and ground-breaking. Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, pre-recorded services, livestreams…lots of options to choose from to engage with our adult congregations, with great opportunities to reach those who might just venture into an online service. But I discovered that the options available for kids in churches were not so wide, or great…or exciting. 


We realised that our kids work teams were now the parents or guardians in their homes. Great news, we cry, our teams just got huge! Not so great news, most of us haven’t spent any time equipping our new team members (the parents and guardians) to deliver our curriculums or our plans. All these years we’ve focussed on providing a routine place for children to learn about and hopefully meet with God once a week, in a different room from the very people who are now leading them, who were always leading them, who God has always ordained to lead them.


A couple of very wise people encouraged me to reach out to a few brilliant kids work leaders and fortunately I found amazing faith filled hearts who agreed that kids leaders needed support, resource sharing, encouragement and equipping during this (yep I’m using that word) unprecedented time. A core leadership team for New Ground Kids has come together to equip and encourage kids work leaders. The other people on that leadership team, working alongside me, are Charlie Macdonald from East End Church, Kate Thurston from King’s Church Hastings, Claire Blades from King’s Church Oxted, Louise Richmond from King’s Church Kingston and Heather Fellows from Hersham Baptist Church.


Over the coming year (and God willing, years) New Ground Kids will aim to equip and encourage kids work leaders right across New Ground. We want to create a space, on the New Ground website and on Facebook, where resources can be shared and utilised to bless one another. Where the newest kids work leaders and the most experienced can sharpen and bless one another. Where any church plant can turn for trustworthy and faith filled resources and support (and yes that includes safeguarding and risk assessment templates…oh the joys!).


Watch this space for our plans, but please continue to pray for your kids work leaders and send them our way.