The Association has a goal of 1000 healthy churches by 2050. As the number of our churches will grow, our need for leaders will also grow – including those who are ready to lead the younger generation. Baptist Youth Ministries (BYM) State Conference is one of the most significant ways that we invest in the youth pastors and leaders of our churches – the people who often go on to lead in other roles within church. The annual conference focuses on building relationships with like-minded people, praying for one another, sharing ideas/resources, and calling both paid and volunteer leaders (and emerging leaders) to be all that God wants them to be for the year ahead, and into the future.
One of these leaders, Will Tugwell, from Thornleigh Community Baptist says: “I was a youth leader at my church and was invited along to BYM State Conference back in 2017 by our youth pastor Todd. He encouraged me to challenge myself by going, as I’d grow and learn. He built up in me that I had potential and that this was something I should be doing.”
Will went to Conference and enjoyed bonding with his team, learning from older leaders, being encouraged by fresh and energetic younger leaders, and meeting people from other churches. “It’s great to hear what God is doing in our wider baptist church and see that He is bigger than just our church, and He is active throughout our nation,” he shared. “We steal ideas all the time from what we hear at Conference, and hopefully get to encourage others as well.”
It was there, at his first BYM State Conference, that God planted a seed in Will’s heart. He shares: “It was a really affirming time for me in my ministry personally – encouraging me that I’m in the right spot. I remember thinking, I think in a similar way to these people, and I actually have gifting in these areas that people have identified in me. Todd and I were hanging out and I remember saying to him, ‘I think I can actually do this’.”
After this, Will realised he didn’t want to pursue the business path that he’d been studying for at university. He stepped into a Student Youth Pastor role at church, learning under Todd’s guidance, and started a Bachelor of Ministry at Morling College. Fast forward to the year 2020, Todd has stepped into an Associate role at church, and Will attended his fourth BYM State Conference in February as the new Youth Pastor of Thornleigh Community Baptist Church!
Steve Dixon, our Associate Director of Youth & Young Adults (who is also part of the Gen 1K Leadership Team), says: “What I love about State Conference is the willingness of people to take a risk and come along, to extend an invitation to someone in our Baptist family to join, and to invite younger leaders in your church to be invested into.” So it’s no surprise that Steve is excited by Will’s story, and says: “Here’s somebody who sees what could be into the future, continues to pursue it and is obedient, and now is occupying a key role in their church.”
Earlier this year, members from one of our churches – The Hub Baptist Church – decided to sew into the development of a youth pastor outside of their church/region by paying for them to attend BYM State Conference. Their generosity is no surprise to Senior Pastor, Stephen Smith, who said: “We have always believed in Kingdom-building and investing in believers so that they can fulfil what the Lord has for them.” If you’d like to know how you could also support a young leader in our Association, email Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Heads up: BYM State Conference 2021 will be held on February 2nd – 4th, 2021!