A number of years ago we as an Association developed and affirmed the Core 5 Values of our Baptist movement of churches. Ever since we’ve been looking to celebrate and promote the variety of expressions throughout our ministries.
We recently chatted with Nath Sami from Hughes Baptist about how the young ministries in and around the ACT are working together and expressing what it means to be relationally committed.
What is the history of Baptist Youth Ministries working together in and around Canberra?
We have had a steadily growing connectivity in recent years, primarily through support of each other as pastors and colleagues of neighbouring Baptist Churches as well as the pooling of our resources to host youth events, head off on camps and conferences and share resources and training days for our leaders. We have run several combined youth camps, both the more formal and trips like this Snow Day. We have headed away together for the Black Stump Music Festival in the past and held different events at each other churches on a regular basis for many years.
What are some of the benefits of working with other churches?
On one level spreading the load has benefitted us all greatly but the biggest pull in all of this are the authentic relationships us pastors have had with each other as brothers and sisters and co-workers in Christ. We have had wonderful space to gather regularly and offer listening ears, share resources, pray together and give opportunity across our churches to help raise up our young leaders that are in our local communities through events and camps such as this one.
What are some of the cultural issues you face in working together?
While Canberra is convenient, it’s convenience geographically creates pockets in which each of our churches operate. This means each of our local church contexts are very different across the board, this includes where our young people go to school, what their interests are and this means in our gatherings as a whole we work hard to recognise our differences and commonalities and celebrate our uniqueness and our unity.
Why a snow trip?
Why not! We have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation that is the snow. Our friends at Cooma Baptist generously host us for the night at their Church which doubles as the local Christian School. With this we have a wonderful base to gather at and keeps our costs low for a nice easy beautiful day at the snow.
Who is involved and what did the weekend include?
Our weekend away included the Youth Groups of Mosaic Baptist, Canberra Baptist, Cooma Baptist, Hughes Baptist and Dickson Baptist led by the Youth Pastors, Youth Interns and Associate Pastors of these communities.
We gathered at Hughes Baptist on Saturday afternoon, bused down to Cooma enjoying the free use of walkie talkies across the buses. At Cooma we gathered for dinner, had a gathering where our friend Deb Stanley from Soul Survivor ACT led us in worship and I had the privilege of sharing from God’s Word. After our gathering we had some good old youth wide games and then crashed for the night.
Sunday morning we were up bright and early. We headed up Mt Kosciuszko to Perisher Valley where we enjoyed the free use of the slopes next to the “official” resort, lunched at the lodge, made many snowmen, women & Olafs, threw many snowballs and sledded all day. A wonderfully weary crew returned home for our evening gatherings/bed.
How did God use the time away to impact those who attended?
On many levels God moved over our time away. For us as pastors and interns, it was wonderfully affirming, encouraging and a major time of building for our existing relationships. For our leaders and parents that came along it was a great space for them to share the joys of youth ministry and connect with fellows in similar communities and for our young people a wonderful reminder of the bigger family of God’s people from all walks. A time to let loose and truly live a full life as Jesus has brought us.
What do you hope will come from experiences like this?
I love the story that we have been carving out over these last years and this trip away was another marker on that journey. Times such as these give us respite and refreshment and my hope is we can continue to enjoy times such as these and continue to support each other and open that support to our fellow brothers and sisters in these communities, other Baptist Churches in our region and beyond. We all hope and pray for a long lasting connectedness that isn’t shallow but goes miles deep, is so reflective of God’s love and works wonderfully in light of our local contexts.
I don’t know about you, but personally I don’t like the snow. It’s far too cold for me. But what I do like is a culture of exploring how churches can better work together for mutual encouragement as they go about the ministry God has called them to in local communities.
May we be a movement that continues to proactively look for ways to work together in ministry and mission.