The Soul Survivor charity, which runs youth discipleship and worship events throughout England, will close after its 2019 events, the trustees announced today. Soul Survivor began in 1993 when Mike Pilavachi was released by St Andrews Church in Chorleywood with 11 others to plant a new youth-focused Anglican church, Soul Survivor Watford, which now meets in two neighbouring warehouses in an industrial estate in north Watford, Hertfordshire. The Soul Survivor events were organised by the church and grew into an ecumenical charity reaching thousands of young people every year.
“We know this will come as a shock to many but we believe that God has spoken and that this is the right time for us to step aside and make space for others to rise up,” Mike Pilavachi said this afternoon in a message on the charity’s website. “This is not a decision we have taken lightly but something we have been wrestling with for a substantial amount of time. Our leadership team and board of trustees came to this decision unanimously and believe that, after 27 years of events, 2019 is the right time for Soul Survivor to end.
“We are enormously sad that this means we won’t be hanging out with you in the same way after 2019 – it has been the greatest joy and privilege to journey with you – but we want to make the most of this summer and next. We also want to commit to serving you as well as we can in this next season God has called us into whether that’s through celebrations at our church in Watford or through myself and other members of the team travelling around the UK and abroad to encourage and cheer you on.”
He said that he would continue to work with the other members of the Soul Survivor leadership team – Ali Martin and Andy Croft – and said that the trio “remain committed to encouraging the whole church to move in the power of the Holy Spirit and will explore new ways to do that.”
In his message, he said: “Right from the start of Soul Survivor we always said that when God told us to stop, we would. We believe that time has come and we want to be obedient. We’ve always been humbled by the amount of support you’ve shown us and so we know some of you may feel sad about this decision but we know that God said, ‘I will build my church’ – he never said, ‘I will build my Soul Survivor’. Our passion has always been to support the local church where faith is lived out as family week in and week out, not to create our own movement.”
Soul Survivor’s church in Watford will continue, but its national ministries will come to an end. It will run three Soul Survivor events in 2019, in Scotland, Stafford and Peterborough; as well as a Naturally Supernatural (NSN) event in Stafford.
The events usually run for five days. Last year some 25,000 young people gathered at Soul Survivor. “The rest of the year we keep busy with lots of other events such as weekends away, equipping days and Saturday celebrations. Plus we run Soul Action to put God’s heart for justice into action, and SoulNet to support and encourage youth leaders,” Soul Survivor explained on its website.
“We run events because we’re passionate about seeing people meet with, and be changed by, Jesus. We’ve often found that as we focus on God he does incredible things; he meets us where we’re at, and we are changed. At our events we always give space for three things: times of sung worship, teaching from the Bible and times of prayer ministry.”
The charity will now work with other organisations to point young people to other events after Soul Survivor in 2019.
In 2014, the Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby took part in Soul Survivor in Stafford, where he was prayed for by some of the young people who attended.
- Click here to see our photo-gallery from the 2014 Soul Survivor in Stafford.