Churches and children the focus of leadership weekend

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L to R: Braedan Entermann, NNSW young adult director Blair Lemke, NNSW events coordinator Kyle Morrison, and Cameron Gilroy.

More than 600 church members from across North New South Wales (NNSW) were recently inspired to focus on their local churches and children at a leadership weekend.

Held this past weekend (October 19-21) at Avondale School in Cooranbong, the event was held specifically for church members within the “southern” area of the NNSW Conference. A repeat event, held this coming weekend (October 26-28) in Murwillimbah will cater to the “northern” end of the Conference.

With the theme “Revitalisation”, attendees received tips and encouragement to ignite a spiritual renewal in their churches, according to NNSW president Pastor Tom Evans.

“I think [events] like this re-inspire our members,” he said. “Many of them are already inspired, it just gives that extra spark, energy, and practical ideas that they can carry back to their local churchees and implement right away.”

Mark McCrindle speaks to a packed house on Friday evening. (Photo: Maddy Voinea)

The event kicked off on Friday evening with a keynote address delivered by Mark McCrindle, an award-winning social researcher and author, who gave an overview of recent trends and a look at where society is headed, and how to respond as a Church.

The remaining keynote speakers, which included Pastor Evans, NNSW church revitalisation director Nic Coutet, assistant director Charissa Fong, and AUC Sabbath School and personal ministries director Pastor Cristian Copaceanu, focussed on the need for mission and prayer.

Workshops on Sabbath afternoon and Sunday morning covered topics such as revitalisation through scripture, reaching secular people, local missions, true leadership, and revitalising churches to welcome youth and young adults.

Charissa Fong speaks on Sunday morning. (Photo: Maddy Voinea)

“A revitalisation in our churches is reviving our sense of identity—who we are, why we’re here, and what we are supposed to be doing,” said Ms Fong, who also serves as prayer director for the NNSW Conference. “Once we get back to those simple basics and we just say, ‘Lord, here I am, send me’, God’s going to do great things.”

Another key highlight of the weekend was the launch of Next Generation Minister—an AUC-inspired initiative adopted by the NNSW Conference focussing on children and teens aged 10-18. Over the course of 12 months, the program matches children who feel called to ministry with a mentor to help them grow, with the motto, “Inspire, mentor, equip.”

Pastor Daron Pratt interviews Hayden Bailey. (Photo: Maddy Voinea)

“We want to take children, their families, and their churches on a journey,” said NNSW children’s ministries director Pastor Daron Pratt. “Everyone who feels called by God in some way—whether it be a teacher, pastor, health worker, writer—we want to inspire them in that journey.”

With more than 70 children in attendance over the course of the weekend, the Next Generation Minister initiative was in full force even before the Sabbath afternoon launch.

During his Sabbath morning keynote address, NNSW school evangelist Pastor John Boston emphasised young people as he gave the stage to 14-year-old Nadia Rhodes, a Kempsey Adventist School student and Next Generation Minister who was baptised late August.

Nadia Rhodes preaches during part of the main service on Sabbath. (Photo: Maddy Voinea)

On Sabbath afternoon, the program was officially launched, with a special dinner held to celebrate the 25 children and teens that signed up to participate. An offering collected nearly $A5000 to support a mission trip to the Philippines next year.

“This will help sponsor these kids to go overseas on a reaping campaign,” said Pastor Pratt. “We’re going to pair them up with a young adult, and they’re going to go to sites and preach together. We’re working with the Spirit to make sure that as the kids feel impressed to go where God is calling them, we will help them with that journey.”

Some of children and teens who signed up to be part of the Next Generation Minister program, with their mentors. (Photo: Maddy Voinea)

Church members of all ages came away from the weekend blessed and inspired, and agreed a focus on the younger generation was especially important.

“We had the pleasure of hearing inspiring stories and testimonies from some teens who are in the Next Generation Minister program and how they are actively impacting their families, friends and neighbours,” said Meagan Bull, a final year teaching student at Avondale College who attends Forresters Beach church. “We were also able to gain new skills to take back to our churches to further inspire our own community. And I pray that God continues to work through us.”

“I really enjoyed the worshipful and encouraging atmosphere of the conference, especially the supporting of young people in ministry,” said Nick Lindsay, a producer and Gosford church member. “I also found the workshops very valuable for revival, especially the focus on prayer and counting the cost of discipleship.”

The NNSW team is gearing up to do it all again this weekend up north. But, as Ms Fong emphasised, the revitalisation is only just beginning.

“My prayer is that people would leave this place revived with a sense of mission and a sense of need for more of God so that they can go back to their churches and start [metaphorical] fires,” she said. “We’re praying for a movement for mission; to see the Church get active and involved in service, because we want Jesus to come, and the more of us that are active and serving the Lord, the quicker that will happen.”