Ben Shaw is the senior minster of the Boathouse Church.
He was born in Vancouver, Canada but grew up in Sydney, Australia. He and his wife Karen moved to the UK in 2004 and love being involved in ministry at the Boathouse. He feels very privileged and considers it a great honour to be serving our church. He hopes that his ministry is honouring to God, has intellectual integrity, is both sensitive and persuasive to those who don't believe and still challenging and encouraging to those that do. He also hopes that it's a lot of fun.
For a full bio on Ben see below
Ben was born in Vancouver, Canada into a non-church going family. They moved to Sydney a few years later and lived in the harbour side suburb of Mosman where his sister was born. When he was 7 years old his mother unexpectedly died after suffering a brain haemorrhage. So at young age he began to think about mortality and the big questions of life but never really heard the full message of Christianity until later on.
Looking back, Ben would describe himself as "just a normal kid" but as he hit double figures he started to turn to petty crime- stealing things from shops, schools and even churches and selling the stolen merchandise to his friends. He managed to dodge the police for a few years until he was eventually caught at 3am one morning, breaking and entering into a petrol station in Manly, Sydney. He was arrested, charged and ended up in a Children's Court with the serious threat of going to a detention centre at the tender age of 13. He avoided prison and was placed on a 12 month good-behaviour bond and released with a strong caution. Shortly after Ben moved schools and began attending the prestigious Scots School in Bathurst for a couple of years.
However, it was in his school in Mosman, Sydney that he and his good friends (all non-Christians) had earlier met a religious education teacher (Glenda Weldon) who clearly and faithfully taught the Christian Faith. It also turns out that Glenda and had a real hospitable and loving heart for kids like Ben and his mischievous mates and bravely she invited them all over to her house one Friday afternoon after school for further discussion and free food! Such an offer was too good to refuse and so Ben and many of his mates took her up on it and they went along to Glenda's house. This was the first of many Friday afternoon visits. Ben admits that originally it was the food that was the main incentive for going, but soon it was the discussions, debates and discovering who Jesus was that became the "main attraction."
Within about 9 months Ben and half a dozen of his friends became Christians.
Thankfully Ben changed considerably and stopped stealing at that point. He now had a new "hobby" - sharing his faith with others. This was something that seemed to come naturally to him and a couple of lads within the group. One Saturday afternoon, when they had nothing better to do, Ben and 2 of his mates John Dickson and Angus McLeay decided the best way to tell others (without being "street-corner Bible-bashers") was to form a rock band and use the lyrics as a way of communicating their new found faith to their mates. The trouble was none of them could play any instruments let alone read music. But they formed a band anyway, choosing what instruments they wanted to play on the spot. They began to teach themselves other people's songs on their new, cheaply acquired instruments, but to put it frankly, they were terrible, especially when they listened back to their first recordings and compared them to the originals. No problem- they would write their own 3 chord songs, which was the aim all along anyway.
Pretty soon they worked out from their early shows that they didn't have to be that good musically (which was good for them), just loud and enthusiastic, so that's what they did. They turned their amps up to "11", got a drummer (Tim Williams then Jacques Zeelie) and began playing in pubs aged 16 years old. The band got a manager and a road crew and began to write some decent material, do some serious recording and that's when things really began to take off. By early 1988 they were touring full time in Australia and New Zealand playing and speaking in pubs, universities, schools, churches, festivals and even prisons. In 1988 they won a band competition in Melbourne and used the substantial prize money to record their second album. With the help of a sponsorship form Peavy they continued to tour in Australia, New Zealand, Holland, USA and the UK., playing in festivals and on television including Channel Nine's The Today Show.
Early on, the band members began giving short talks in their shows and this eventually became a major feature of their concerts. So Ben and the other members would regularly give talks to up to several thousand people at each show. Their talks became a large component of the band's ministry (even surpassing the music at times). Ben was regularly giving talks, either with the band or sometimes on his own, in all sorts of places and he began preaching in church services in 1989. Since those days Ben has continued to speak widely in churches, universities, conferences and particularly at evangelistic events.
Eventually the band's speaking ministry became so dominant that they decided to "disband" as a four-piece and head off to college to do some serious study. So Ben, Angus, John, their manager (Dugald Mackenzie) and road manager (David Lanham) headed off to Bible College to get their degrees in theology at Moore Theological College, Sydney.
However, Ben and John (the singer) continued to write and perform songs as a duo all through this period and they even managed to release another album together. So between essays and their studies they continued to do "mini" tours in Australia and in 1997 and 2000 they toured in the UK.
St. Andrew's Roseville (Sydney, Australia)
After college Ben became an Assistant Minister at St. Andrew's Roseville Sydney for what he describes as 5 wonderful years where he oversaw the evening service.
Ben enrolled and began a Masters of Ancient History at Macquarie University which watered an already growing interest in early church history, archaeology and the manuscripts of the Bible. In 2012 Ben joined a team of archaeologists to dig in Bethsaida, Galilee, Israel.
The Bible in 3 Hours
During this time he wrote a multi-media Bible background and overview course called The Bible in 3 Hours that he has now run in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Belfast, the French Alps and London.
Out of this course Ben became an author co-writing a couple of books with his friend Peter Downey that are published with Zondervan and are now also available in Spanish and Korean.
Emmanuel Church and Dundonald Church (both in London)
In early 2004 he and his wife moved to London where he began working for Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon. After 6 years as an assistant minister there he moved down the road to Dundonald Church (originally a church plant from Emmanuel) to work as their main evangelist from 2010-mid 2012.
Ben has also been (and continues to be) a regular speaker for Richmond Holidays since it's inaugural year, speaking for them in the French Alps, Turkey, the Greek Islands and leading tours for them in Israel. In May 2012 Ben and Karen took time out from London to do a long stint of ministry for Richmond on the lovely Greek Island of Samos where they worked for the entire summer of that year.
The Boathouse Church, Putney, London
Finally, in November 2012 Ben joined the Boathouse Church to become the pastor in mid 2013. Ben preaches, helps with the music and overseas the various ministries of the church. He feels very privileged and is thrilled to be among us.