Who is Jimmy Dale?
In A Nutshell:
Jimmy Dale is the National Youth Evangelism Officer for the Church of England, he is responsible for promoting and resourcing youth evangelism across the country. Jimmy is also working alongside Roy Crowne and the HOPE Together organisation as Interim Youth Director of HOPE Revolution, the youth arm of HOPE.
Woking Born & Bred:
Jimmy was born in Woking in Surrey where he lived for the first 16 years of his life. With Christian parents he was virtually 'born' into church as his father was a minister at a local Strict Baptist church in Knaphill. Jimmy's mum was a care assistant, so the young lad saw both his parents modelling God's love, in caring for others throughout his formative years.
Growing up, church was an integral part of life and family life focused on church ministry within the local area. His father would often be leading, or speaking at, 2 or 3 services each Sunday, with all the preparation work in between; therefore it was always a busy home. The church had a small youth group which Jimmy engaged with but it was something he struggled with.
Jimmy attended the Winston Churchill Secondary School, in Knaphill, where he studied for his exams. However, he found it challenging that his dad would often come in to speak at School assemblies - and everyone knew he was Jimmy's dad, so it made life really difficult for him. In fact, he tried to throw off the 'Christian' label but unfortunately for him - it stuck! To get away from things Jimmy would spend time out in the country or rock climbing, which became his new hobby.
The family moved to Lincoln when Jimmy was 16 and he joined the 6th Form at The Priory LSST (The Lincoln School of Science and Technology). With it's motto of ‘Courage and Courtesy’, the Priory Sixth Form is one of the largest in England, and consequently offered an impressive range of courses to students. It also gave them access to state-of-the-art facilities which stretched each students potential. <1> However, for Jimmy the greatest thing was that his dad didn't come in and do any assemblies! In fact, no one knew his dad was a minister so over the next two years he actively distanced himself from church and any affiliation to it! He felt that he had been given a clean slate!
Unfortunately when Jimmy graduated he had failed most of his exams and scratched his head with what to do with his life! He decided that he would try applying for work in one of the only areas he really loved - rock climbing! He says:
"I failed most of my exams and so at the age of 18, found myself applying for jobs as a rock climbing instructor, a hobby I had developed in my teenage years and one of the only things I felt I was good at. This also was motivated by the opportunity to move away from my parents and leave church behind once and for all. Most of the jobs I applied for replied saying I was too young or too inexperienced but Carroty Wood in Kent offered me an interview."
Carroty Wood Residential Centre is situated just outside Tonbridge, Kent. It's equipped with accommodation, and a heated indoor swimming pool! It also boasted an impressive 20+ activities which were all instructed <2>, so Jimmy was really interested! The activity centre was enclosed in 58 acres of woodland with plenty of natural habitat and wildlife for groups and families to explore. On paper it looked really tailored to his tastes!
Jimmy planned on arriving at Carroty Wood the night before the interview and booked to stay overnight with them. Upon arrival and introducing himself, the first question he was asked was “how long have you been a Christian?” Without releasing it he had applied to a Christian outdoor centre! His heart sank! Convinced he would never escape being around Christians he felt really down and in a pit of despair. He truly felt that he would never be good enough for God! So when the opportunity arose he went straight to his room.
The following morning he was invited to attend the Team Devotional's. This was led by a chap who handed out the words to the hymn ‘Before the Throne of God Above’, which he explained he would play and then would spend a time praying for God to speak to them. As Jimmy looked at the sheet, he read:
When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there, Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me! <3>
"What? ~ to look on HIM and pardon me?", he said to himself! Suddenly it was as if scales fell from his eyes and it all suddenly clicked! He felt an overwhelming sense of God's presence, and a feeling of peace overcame him as he finally brought all the pieces of his life together and understood the love God had for him! Truly, he knew in that moment, that God loved him, and accepted him for who he really was. There was only one thing he could do - he gave his life to Jesus! He started working as an instructor at Carroty Wood a few months later.
We believe that God has a plan for our lives and everything that Jimmy had done and experienced up until now was simply the proving ground for his future ministry and calling. As he studied God placed a great passion on his heart to see young people transformed and living all out for Jesus. It wasn't until he was 22 that Jimmy decided to go to University where he studied Youth work and applied Theology with the Centre for Youth Ministry. Whilst studying he also worked as a Youth Worker at St Marks Church in Forest Gate. It was there that he met and worked with a gap year student, Sarah, who would later become his wife!
Youth For Christ:
In 2012 Jimmy sensed that God was asking him to support the local churches to run effective and sustainable youth ministries and so made the decision to leave St Mark’s and pioneer a new Youth for Christ Centre in East London called: 'Newham Youth for Christ'. Jimmy was now on fire for Jesus and wanted all young people to experience that too. Jimmy says of that time:
"My passion was [and still is] to see young people come to know Jesus and see their lives transformed - and the lives of those around them! At Newham YFC we demonstrated the love of God, declared who Jesus is, encouraged a decision to follow Him, and discipled young people to live their lives to the full."
A Step of Faith:
In 2016 Jimmy attended the the National Youth For Christ conference, there he felt God was asking him to step out in faith and 'move on' - but he had no idea where to. After spending time in prayer he decided that Newham YFC was in God's capable hands and so was his future, so he handed in his resignation.
The Church of England's New Role:
Shortly after this he was approached by a close friend who he had been working on a project with, who told him that the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Division was about to advertise a new role as the National Youth Evangelism Officer and they were keen for him to apply. Convinced that this wasn't a role for him he was advised to spend a day on retreat praying about it.
"After a day of praying and asking God I concluded there were 3 things: Pioneering new things, networking and building relationship and evangelism among young people. When I returned home I told my wife who handed me the job description again, suggesting I had another look. I applied and the rest, as they say, is history!"
The Newham Recorder reported on 1st September 2016 that 'Jimmy Dale from Forest Gate has been appointed the Church of England's first Youth Evangelism Officer.' It went on to quote Jimmy: “I’m so excited,” he said. “I am really looking forward to working alongside people across the country as we seek to support and promote where youth evangelism is working well, as well as dreaming together of new ways to reach young people with the gospel.” Working with the church’s Mission and Public Affairs Division (MPA) and the National Education Office of the Archbishops’ Council, Jimmy will help young people spread the message of Christianity to their friends, evaluating the effectiveness of different models. <4>
Jimmy was approached by HOPE Together to be part of the steering group for HOPE Revolution. HOPE Rev as it is also known, was headed up by the charismatic Phil Timson, is all about encouraging young people to live radically, be different and step out of their comfort zones. A national initiative, HOPE Rev enables young people to choose to use their energy, passion and uniqueness to share their eternal hope with their friends, school and community. Jimmy and Phil worked closely together on the design and creation of 'Mission Academy Live' - a peer-to-peer video training programme designed to help young people with evangelism; and the development of Mission Academy 'Live' Regional Hubs across the country. <5>
In 2017 when Phil Timson announced that he was leaving HOPE Rev. Executive Director of HOPE: Roy Crowne, asked Jimmy if he would oversee the ongoing roll out of Mission Academy Live as Youth Director for the interim period before they found a new person. [Note: As we write HOPE have just appointed a new full time Youth Director: Dan Randall, who will be joining HOPE Rev on 18th March 2019.]
Wessex Filling Station:
It was in 2017 that HOPE Rev's Phil Timson was approached, and booked, to come and speak at Wessex Filling Station in March '19 with the view of speaking at two events: Wessex on the Thursday evening and a youth event on the following Friday evening. Jimmy has taken on that mantle and will be speaking at both the Filling Station on Thursday 28th March, and also a Youth Event at Twynham Church on Friday 29th March. Colin Bennett of Moorlands College has arranged for there to be a gathering of local youth leaders at Moorlands Wessex Centre on the Friday lunchtime to hear more about Mission Academy Live and also the new Advance 2020.
Outside of the box:
Jimmy Dale is also a marathon runner and triathlete! He ran the Bournemouth Marathon in 2017 - and has a medal to prove it! He also completed a full Ironman competition in Wales; as well as running 14 marathons in 12 months in 2018. He is a Tottenham Hotspur fan, as well a lover of technology, especially as a keen user of Apple products!
This article was written from an Interview with Wessex Filling Station's Brian Edgeley.
- The Priory LSST ~ see https://www.priorylsst.co.uk/
- Carroty Wood Residential Centre ~ see:https://rockuk.org/centres/carroty-wood/
- Before the Throne of God ~ written by Charitie Lees Bancroft | Vikki Cook. Copyright © 1997 Sovereign Grace Worship (Administered by Integrity Music)
- Newham Recorder ~ published on 01 September 2016: https://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/christian-youth-worker-from-newham-lands-church-of-england-role-1-4680457
- Mission Academy Live ~ see HOPE Together Website. https://www.hopetogether.org.uk/Groups/290576/Miss...