Over the past few months we’ve changed the way we do our church services to allow everyone, of all ages, to stay together for the first half of church.
We have done this deliberately and strategically because we believe that church is best when old and young people grow together.
For our church, it means that everyone of all ages will be together for three of our four songs, for all our Bible readings, for our public prayer, for question time, for our creed and confession, for the Lord’s Supper, for updates and interviews, and for our church news (which include birthday shoutouts!)
During this time, our younger members will truly experience church with the rest of our congregation, and they will grow up richly experiencing church as a normal part of their Christian life.
At the same time, since our children learn in a way that’s different to teens and adults, we provide a special program for the final 45 minutes of both church services, where we teach and nurture them in a way that is best for their learning and growth.
We also know that there are benefits in drawing together similar people from time to time to focus on their special opportunities and needs, such as our youth group each Saturday after dinner, and various men’s and women’s ministries in our parish.
And we know that doing church intergenerationally is good and natural because when Paul wanted to get a message to the kids in the church at Ephesus, he directly addressed them in his letter, knowing they’d be in church when his letter was read (Ephesians 6:1).
That’s why our church loves being together as much as possible, as our children and adults learn and grow from each other, united in Christ.
(Credit: freestocks.org via Flickr)
The ministry of a mother to her children is not only a valuable role, it is a strategic opportunity to share the wonderful news of Jesus to a world that is lost without him.
For this reason, we applied to the Mothers Union Sydney for a special grant to fund an all-new position of ‘Mother’s Minister’, and here’s how we described our vision:
We wish to employ a mature and experienced Christian mother to help strengthen and support new and younger mothers in our church to be godly wives who serve their husbands as they bring up their children in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
They will teach how to develop Christian homes as a place for nurturing children, which will then be a natural environment to invite unbelievers in their networks to witness the outworking of the Word of God in the lives of their families and homes.
This will involve one-to-one discipleship of mothers in our church; the opportunity to train, resource and empower other experienced Christian mothers and grandmothers to share this ministry; and to prayerfully gather all members of our parish to seek to make disciples of all nations, one mother and family at a time.
We also long to be a parish that learns and then shares from its ministry experience, in order to equip other, similar churches in rural and regional churches with this important, specialised ministry.
And guess what? We got the grant!
For the next two years we’ve received funding for an all-new, ten-hour-per-week position at our church to equip mums for ministry.
I am delighted to announce that Mrs Gemma Bartlett has accepted our invitation to fill this all-new role, and that from February next year she will be working with us to minister to our mums!
Gemma is married to Matt, who is an Anglican minister serving as the Youthworks Youth Ministry & High School SRE Advisor in the Wollongong Region, and they are the parents of Georgia (9), Thomas (6) and Hugo (2).
Gemma is passionate about helping to strengthen mums in their ministry in their families, and she is excited to serve with us as we develop the intergenerational ministries at our church.
We are really thankful to God for the opportunity to be partnering with Gemma and her family in this all-new ministry, and we pray that the Bartletts would have a smooth move to our church in the coming months.