All posts by Ben Mizen

I am the Youth and Children’s Work Adviser for the Diocese of Portsmouth. I cover all work with children and young people aged 0-18+ and work across Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Fareham, The Isle of Wight, Petersfield and Bishops Waltham. You can contact me at the diocesan offices on 02392 899652 and

12 Things TEDx Speakers Do That Preachers Don’t

TED talks have pretty much set the standard in clear communication and effective presentations in recent years. There’s a great deal that churches, youth groups etc can learn from their style, as they have proven to be a great source of debate, engagement and learning. This challenging list about speaking and preaching by Nicholas McDonald is essential for anyone trying to communicate with young people.

tedx01 – Present one great idea. “An idea isn’t just a story or a list of facts. A good idea takes evidence or observations and draws a larger conclusion.” Of course TEDx talkers often have multiple points, but they always have direction: they’re always moving forward to a set conclusion (and that’s all big idea preaching is, for all the flack it gets). They also suggest to the speaker: “Get your idea out as quickly as possible”.
02 – Set a time limit. “Shorter talks are not lesser talks. It may only take 5 minutes to make your point unforgettably”. Ouch – yes, I often speak too long. Like Pascal in his letter, most of us preach long sermons because we don’t have time to prepare short ones – certainly not 20 minutes – but we could all stand to lose a few. Here’s how they approach this: “Make a list of all the evidence you want to use: Think about items that your audience already knows about and the things you’ll need to convince them of. Order all of the items in your list based on what a person needs to know before they can understand the next point, and from least to most exciting. Now cut out everything you can without losing the integrity of your argument. You will most likely need to cut things out you think are important.”
03 – Collaborate – On the above suggestion: “Consider making this list with a trusted friend, someone who isn’t and expert in your field.” During rehearsal stage, the guide recommends “listening to criticism”. Calvin made it a rule for pastors in his region to collaborate on their texts before preaching. Personally, I wish we didn’t see the preparation of a sermon as a lone-ranger event: why not ask the perspectives of people who represent those who will be listening to this thing, believers and non-believers alike?
04 – Put time into visuals. “Note anything in your outline that is best expressed visually and plan accordingly in your script.” In the section regarding the question, “What goes in my slides?” the guide states: “Images and photos: to help the audience remember a person, place or thing you mention, you might use images or photos…Use as little text as possible – if your audience is reading, they are not listening. Avoid using bullet points. Consider putting different points on different slides.” We might not have time every week to come up with captivating visuals, but check out some websites like - you’d be surprised how quickly you can put together an amazing presentation.
05 – Practice. “Once you’re settled on your outline, start writing a script. Be concise, but write in a way that feels natural to you. Use present tense and strong, interesting verbs.” After the script is finished, the guide implores: “Rehearse, rehearse rehearse! We can’t stress this enough…If someone says you sound “over-rehearsed” this actually means you sound stilted and unnatural.”
06 – Stay away from notes. “TED discourages long talks, podiums or readings”. This isn’t for everybody – but it’s certainly worth noting that according to the best speakers in the world, notes are considered to be a thing of the past.
07 – Avoid industry jargon. Christianese, anyone? “Don’t use too much jargon, or explain new terminology…Spend more time on new information: If your audience needs to be reminded of old or common information, be brief.”
08 – Draw people into caring. “Start by making your audience care, using a relatable example or an intriguing idea…Draw your audience in with something they care about. If it’s a field they never think about, start off by invoking something they do think about a lot and relate that concept to your idea.” How often do we assume that everyone sitting in the congregation is as interested in our text as we are?
09 – Show how it makes a difference. “Don’t use your conclusion to simply summarize what you’ve already said; tell your audience how your idea might affect their lives if it’s implemented.”
10 – Keep structure clear but invisible. “Your structure should be invisible to the audience. In other words, don’t talk about how you’re going to talk about your topic – just talk about it!” I thought this was especially interesting – the TEDx guide states that structure should be present, but that it shouldn’t be announced. Presumably, it should be natural and strong enough that everyone listening can understand it without explanation.
11 – Stay planted. “Practice standing still, planted firmly in one spot on stage.” So, yeah, about this. I have a VERY hard time with this. I should put two little shoe imprints near the pulpit.
12 – Respectfully address arguments. “Respectfully address any controversies in your claims, including legitimate counter-arguments, reasons you might be wrong, or doubts your audience might have about your idea.” The Puritans spent much of their preaching time answering inner-objections – it’s what Keller calls “preaching to the heart”. In a post-Christian society, we ought to be putting more time into answering arguments, not less.

Job Opportunity – Crofton Youth Project Youth Leader Wanted

Crofton Youth Project

The Crofton Youth Project is looking for a new Youth Leader to run the youth club on 3 evenings a week.

It involves working with young people aged 11-14, planning suitable activities in consultation with them and encouraging their social and personal development. The Youth Leader is also responsible for managing a team of 3 youth workers.

Hourly rates of pay are negotiable.

For further information please contact trustee Melanie Thomas as soon as possible.

Communion before Confirmation – revised diocesan policy

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Revised diocesan policy, process and resources for admitting children to communion in your parish have been released this month.

Click below for:


If you are interested in finding out more, read this interesting article from the Pompey Chimes on “The Big Issue: Should children take Communion?”

The diocesan youth and children’s team have a selection of the recommended resources for you to view. Please get in touch.

Prodigal – video for worship service and small group

Here’s a link to a really useful video from Bath YFC and their friends. It’s a contemporary and visually stunning retelling of the Parable of the Lost Son.

‘When he was still a long way off, his father saw him.’ (Luke 15:11-24)

Click here to view the video on vimeo

Find out more about Bath YFC (Youth for Christ) at

Useful WW1 Resources

here are some useful resources from REQuest:

What Price Peace? A WWI schools resource.

peaceA new teaching resource for primary schools exploring issues of war and peace by Chris Hudson

Look inside
What Price Peace? is a resource book for primary school teachers based around the events of the ‘Great War’ (1914-18). It offers children the opportunity to engage with powerful issues of faith and belief, helping them to think through questions such as: is fighting always wrong? How can we work out what is true? How should bullying be resisted? Are some people worth more than others? How do we deal with fear, pain and suffering? Can we really love our enemies as Jesus said?

£8.99 | Find out more and buy

1277 – make them count! National Strategy for Christain Toddler Groups


On average a UK child has just 1,277 days between birth and starting nursery education. Together, we want to ‘make them count’ for the children, for their families and for the toddler groups that they attend.

1277 exists to develop and implement a National Strategy to support church-based toddler groups and their associated activities. Our vision is to see universal access to excellent, safe, Christian toddler groups which are demonstrating God’s love at the heart of their communities.

Read more here…

Poverty of Voice – Children’s Society

36Jim Davis (who is the Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Conversation Guru) reflects on the story of the loaves & fishes- and ponders the absence of children & young people’s voices in our churches. With questions for discussion/thought and prayers to use in worship:

Jim will be with us at Conference on Tuesday evening.

Supporting Christian Teachers in Schools – Portsmouth Area

Tuesday 30th April
Pompey Study Centre, Anson Road, Portsmouth
6.00pm – 7.00pm

For a number of years now I have had a desire to bring local Christians in schools together. I believe God has given me this desire and that now is the time to take a step of faith and organise such a meeting to reaffirm your calling into the profession. I have seen first hand what God can do when Christians come together in a workplace and culture ( PFC and football ) and have a heart to see God’s chosen ambassadors at the centre of our schools.

I want to encourage you that God is passionate about you and those whom you work with. On Tuesday 30th April at the Study Centre myself, Linvoy and others will be sharing something of the story of our mission to our workplace ( Portsmouth FC ) to see if we can bring you, as those whom God has placed in our schools, together for the sake of His Kingdom.

Ours is simply a story of putting our faith in a living, unchanging God believing that He wants to work through His people wherever He places them however inadequate they may feel for such a task
There is no agenda for the meeting, no preaching nor any plans for the future but a sense that we want to help in any way we can to stir up God’s people so that He can direct our future steps. I believe this will always start with united prayer.

As you know Faith & Football work at many schools across the City and already serve in many capacities with various educational programmes. We want to join with you at this significant time of change in education (you are more aware of it than me ) to make sure God’s people are encouraged and equipped to bring His influence and purposes into their respective workplaces.
I really would like you to come and meet other Christians in our City who work in the same culture as you and therefore have an understanding of the prevailing needs in schools.

Finally if you know of any other Christians who work in schools either with you or elsewhere please make them aware of this opportunity.

Mick Mellows

Please RSVP to this – email here (So I need to know how many cups of tea to provide! )