The members of the last Synod in Session asked the church to prioritise ministry with children, youth and families.
While my journey of faith was marked by a conscious decision to commit my life to Christ in my early 20s, the experience of Christian community as a child and a youth was profound and life changing. I look back on those years and reflect that the overwhelming message to me was that I, as a child, was valued and nurtured. I belonged to this mob. They invested in me. Each one of those communities had leadership councils and people who made conscious decisions to invest significant time, money, and energy into children and young people, that they may grow to live in the great vista that is Christian faith.
Looking back, it was a good bet that I’d “return to the fold”, given that experience—let alone the family life I enjoyed.
Out where I live, in the past few years, I’ve seen a couple of churches make conscious decisions to shape their life towards children, youth and families. At Karana Downs Uniting Church, a small church in the western suburbs of Brisbane, the minister, Ian Smallbone, has grown young people who are becoming leaders themselves. The congregation decided to change worship times to become more accessible to families. (It’s easier to change the theology of the Trinity than change worship times!)
At Moggill, over the past six years, a decision to prioritise ministry with children and families has seen the church commit to funding a worker and changing the way they gather for worship. This worker is helping Moggill members grow ministry activities with young families. At Toowong, the congregation members have committed to extra funding to support the growth of a new ministry to young adults.
It does come back to whether we believe the Christian faith has something distinctive and vital to say about how life can be lived.
UnitingCare Queensland, through UnitingCare Community, embodies a belief in children, young people, and families through some of the most profoundly difficult circumstances that children and families face. People commit their lives to this work through our agencies. It is high risk work; it is deeply challenging work; it is work that the state trusts UnitingCare Community to do well. That trust has not been misplaced over many years.
So, how about it? How is your community prioritising ministry with children and families? Talk to your church council about it. There are Uniting Church ministers around who can help; I’ll put you onto them.
Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod