2 youth leadership; 3 conservative, evangelical theology; and 4 empowering young people to share their faith with other
youth. T.C. Hammond, while principal of Moore College, wrote in 1940: The fundamentals of the Christian faith have not been taught with sufficient care for years. As a result, the youth of our day are often ill-instructed. We have too many purveyors of a cheap gospel which makes its appeal solely to the emotions and does not supply a solid background of Bible fact on which the awakened soul may confidently rest. Lukabyo’s study closes with the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade, noting that some 60 per cent of those who made decisions for Christ were young people, most of them already involved in a local church. The 1959 crusade is viewed as the high watermark of conservative evangelicalism in Australia, which stood on the shoulders of 30 years of effective youth ministries in local churches. Looking back on those ministries – in churches, schools, universities, and parachurch organisations – over the preceding century, Lukabyo sets out some key markers for effectiveness in the ministry model of the 1930s and 1940s: 1 youth ownership and empowerment; 2 a “bottom-up” leadership model; 3 support from key people in church leadership (rectors, parish councils, bishops); 4 engagement with schools and local communities. We see that there is no single right model of youth ministry. However, principles clearly emerge from Lukabyo’s historical study, the social sciences and from Scripture that all point in a fruitful direction. As former Archbishop Peter Jensen observed when he launched the book, we are compelled toward both faithfulness
and freedom: faithfulness in evangelical ministry and freedom in finding new ways to implement theologically driven principles. In short, Lukabyo finds effective youth ministries are those that respect the agency of young people. They are not “Christians in waiting” but individuals loved by God and capable of responding now to the gospel of grace, becoming mature, lifelong, disciplemaking disciples of Christ. An effective youth ministry looks to nurture these young people into Christian leadership with the support of key church leaders, and has strong links to schools through SRE and lunchtime fellowship groups. The importance of relational discipleship is something Anglican Youthworks has been quietly championing for 20 years now. A recent Youthworks survey of Sydney churches found those that adopted a principled approach to their youth and children’s ministry saw the greatest growth through the volatility, uncertainty and complexity of 2020. Churches with a commitment to continuing relational discipleship grew as they found creative ways to video conference, equip parents and engage young people along a pathway of Christian discipleship toward maturity in Christ, despite restrictions. This contemporary proof of principles being the key to an effective youth ministry is underscored by the historical proof uncovered by Lukabyo in her research. It’s why we can expect that an effective youth and children’s ministry will underpin a thriving, flourishing, growing church. It’s this synergy that makes me want to say, “I love it when a plan comes together!”.SC The Rev Canon Craig Roberts is CEO of Youthworks.
ONLINE ON CAMPUS Youthworks College offers both the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Theology or Ministry. Study at our Newtown campus or in an online classroom with an experienced tutor. (02) 8093 3400 email@example.com youthworkscollege.edu.au
Youthworks College is an affiliate of the Australian College of Theology, CRICOS Code 02650E.
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