John Hardwick: Helping to build a "fit Church" with BibleBop Workshops

Wednesday 14th January 2009

Tony Cummings questioned veteran children's worker and super-fit JOHN HARDWICK

John Hardwick
John Hardwick

The release this month by Kingsway of 'BibleBopWorkshop' by John Hardwick brings once more into the spotlight one of Britain's longest standing children's ministries. Down the years John has worked tirelessly communicating gospel truth in all-action programmes of zany fun. Now with his new project it's teenagers, parents and grandparents as well as kids who can get involved and enjoy physical and spiritual benefits. Cross Rhythms began by asking the veteran what precisely is this all-age entity known as a Bible Bop Workshop? "Bible Bop is a real mixture of enthusiastic people having a laugh jumping around and learning energetic action moves while burning loads of calories in the process! We do all this to cool Bible verses songs! So it really is also a great fun way of learning Bible verses! The business of heath and fitness is a growing industry. Gyms and sports centres are springing up everywhere offering all kinds of keep fit classes including jazzercise, aerobics, dance workshops and loads more. I've seen churches hosting Taoist tai chi classes; well, why not host Bible Bop Workshops? There is a huge amount in the press about obesity even among the children due to too much junk food and lack of exercise. There are also huge spiritual health problems in our nation often due to bad diet and too much junk. The world feeds us many lies about what is really important in life. We need to develop a good balance to our lifestyle including both our physical and spiritual sides. Bible Bop Workshops are one way of helping us achieve this and I'd like to encourage all churches to include them as part of their weekly programme of events."

The clever idea of fusing aerobics workouts with memorising Bible verses is only the latest in a series of creative concepts that Hardwick has employed down the years. For instance, Hardwick is a skilled juggler. He commented, "For some reason I taught myself to juggle as a child. When I'm leading a school assembly or a Cool And Crazy Praise Party or an all-age celebration I find juggling a great way of grabbing and holding people's attention! Not only is it loads of fun but you can get some great illustrations out of the juggling too."

The last time Cross Rhythms spoke to John (in 1998) he had just released his 'Double Impact' album. What projects has he made since then? "Each year I write a holiday club book published by Bible Reading Fellowship. My latest theme, Razzamatazz Robots (The Celebration Of Life) is a fun-filled adventure, designed to help children understand the importance of God's plan for each of us. I also write songs for the themes which I record and film onto CD and DVD. I have also produced my 'Action Packed Praise 1+2' CD/DVDs. Apparently I am projected onto many screens in churches and primary schools, leading children's songs for them."

John gets his zeal for ministry from his parents. Said John, "They were a huge influence! My father, Leslie Hardwick, was often invited to be the speaker at conferences, or family/children's camps and we would all go along with him, Mum, Ruth Hardwick, and the six of us children. I used to love it seeing Dad preaching with such passion and the people hanging onto every word he said and was always challenged myself. But it wasn't always so comfortable, I remember at one children's club my parents were leading, a group of rowdy teenagers circled Mum and started flicking spit at her but she continued to share the good news of Jesus with them. I was really cross that they treated her like that but she calmly reminded me how they spat on Jesus and insulted him, then he said if you want to be my disciple then you must be prepared to take up your cross and follow him! My mum died in 2000 and is sadly missed. Dad is now 80 years old and is still incredibly busy serving God. He remains a popular preacher and it's not unusual for him to speak or preach more than 10 times in one week. He also drives the mini bus for old people's events and leads primary school assembles and kids clubs! Dad is still prepared to try new approaches of sharing the message - he's a great 'rapper' of Bible verses, he wears his baseball cap and cool shades! My parents had a particular passion for reaching out to children through Skegness beach mission, camps and regular Sunday school and midweek children's clubs. They've helped me see the importance of reaching children of all-ages with the good news of God's love. They are real heroes of the faith."

John Hardwick: Helping to build a "fit Church" with BibleBop Workshops

John is pleased with the CD/DVD of 'BibleBopWorkshop'. He said, "It was recorded and produced by Kingsway Music - they made the songs sound fantastic with a beat that makes you want to get up and move! It was filmed by ACM Studios, who did a great job with some amazing graphics. The whole project was loads of fun to make and I'm sure we all lost weight as we had to go over the songs several times to get the best shots!"

Today John lives in Cambridge with his wife Rachel and children Chloe (aged 11) and Ben (aged seven). He said, "Trying to get the balance between family and ministry is always a tough one but thankfully Rachel also works with reaching children through leading a Girls Brigade group, Chloe and Ben are fully involved in church life and often help in sketches and in other ways! I think the greatest blessing [in doing children's work] is when I receive a letter or phone call from someone who was in one of my groups or events as a child, saying how much it meant to them in their spiritual journey. They often remember the stories and still sing the songs! I went into full time children's ministry in 1989, 20 years ago this summer. Where have the years gone? 'BibleBopWorkshop' is certainly the most energetic project I have ever done but hopefully it will be the first of many." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by Steve Whyatt in Cambs @ 10:42 on Feb 4 2009

As someone who lives in the same area as John I owe him a huge debt. John has freely shared his skills, resources and heart for children in the local Cambs area and personally I have gained so much. Indeed the emphasis I had in working with young people and secondary schools has now shifted to work with children and primary schools!!
John's enthusiasm and creativity is infectious and Bible Bop is yet another example of this...get bopping!

Posted by John Wilkes @ 21:07 on Jan 14 2009

We are thrilled to have John Hardwick as part of our National team of Evangelists. John manages to combine creative communication with a passion for the power of Scripture. His songs are memorable and enduring: our children and grandchildren will be singing them for a life-time!
Can you imagine them them - still trying to bop to John's songs in their nineties at rest homes around the UK! Best wishes for another racing success from!

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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