Investing in the youth of Bendigo

Trevor Bell   

Bendigo camp

Earlier this year Cindy and I began a new role in the Diocese of Bendigo in conjunction with Bush Church Aid. As the Youth and Family Ministry Development Officer I am tasked with strategically investing in young people and empowering local Christians for the task of connecting with and discipling young people.

Our three short term goals are to:

  • Identify, empower and support local lay people as children and youth supporters
  • Establish a biannual camping ministry
  • Gather together Sunday School in a Box resources for smaller churches that don’t have the people or children to run a larger Sunday School program.

There is research to suggest that one of the key reasons young people stay in churches is to do with whether they feel truly connected to people at the church. Consequently, we are looking to identify suitable local Christians who love Jesus and love people to come alongside the young people who attend our smaller churches. Youth Supporters will be encouraged/trained to:

  • Take an interest in young people and make them feel valued
  • Make general conversation around interests and life
  • Discuss and answer questions specifically related to faith and the Bible
  • Be proactive in offering to pray with young people.

It is exciting to report that in mid-October we held our first youth camp in Corop, regional Victoria, where 34 high school aged young people gathered from across our Diocese. This camp was very successful in creating a space where these young people could share their Christian journey with others outside their local church. There was a time of Christian input and teaching where we discussed the movie Inside Out and what Jesus might say about disgust, anger, sadness, fear and joy. We also shared together in worship, games, video making, canoeing, ropes courses and lots of other fun things.

I have recently begun to brainstorm what Sunday School in a Box might look like. I would appreciate your prayers for inspiration and guidance. The goal is to make some interactive hands-on Sunday school boxes where children in small churches can learn about our faith while playing and without needing a fully prepared Sunday school teacher.

We pray that this ministry will have fruit that will last for God’s kingdom.