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Grow Ministries: new LCA family ministry launched

Jesus gave his church the commission, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Mat 28:19,20).

This command undergirds the new structure of the LCA’s Board for Child Youth and Family Ministry (BCYFM). The board aims to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for resources, programs, training and support that grow children and young people into mature adults of faith.

The establishment of BCYFM, which was proposed and approved by General Church Council late in 2012, culminated in the installation of National Director Jodi Brook, Training and Support Coordinator Jo Jones and Assistant to the Director Leah Cronin by LCA President Rev Dr Mike Semmler at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide, on Sunday, 24 February.

The new skills-based board consists of Jodi Brook, interim chairman Tim Wiebusch, Aaron Glover and Pastors Greg Priebbenow, Matt Thiele and Tim Jarick, who bring together backgrounds in child, youth and family ministry (CYFM), along with skills in governance, strategic, project and financial management.

The board will also utilise reference teams to give a voice to state-based groups overseeing CYFM and key resources, such as Faith Inkubators, who will meet twice a year to provide ideas and feedback to the board.

 ‘The key reason for the refocusing of this ministry is to broaden the range of resources, training and support the LCA can offer to the districts and their congregations of the church’, Tim said. ‘We want to provide resources to suit a variety of different settings, and options and alternatives that are applicable to particular congregations’ size and make-up.

‘This change signals a broadening of the scope of what staff and the board can offer’, he said.

Jodi said that while Faith Inkubators would continue to be a strong focus in the future, other resources for complementing the system would also be developed in order to meet the needs of smaller congregations in particular.

‘We plan to provide as many free resources as possible, and to be a one-stop shop for information and assistance for all kinds of programs—for playgroups and other avenues of outreach to children, for example’, she said.

Following last year’s October Youth Forum, the BCYFM will maintain focus on camping ministries. ‘Participants told us that camping helped to shape who they were’, Jodi said. ‘This will remain a priority, supported by each district.’

The new board will be officially launched at the General Convention of Synod under the banner of Grow Ministries, a name that is intended to reinforce its focus on ministry to whole families and bringing generations together.

‘The biggest challenge for congregations is to help engage their young people in the life and relationships of the church—to provide avenues for developing relationships with adults beyond their parents’, Jodi said.

Tim said that the new board was currently engaging with a wide range of stakeholders through its evaluation process, at national, district and congregational levels. An internet survey has been sent to all pastors in congregations and to lay workers specialising in CYFM.

‘We aim to understand what resources, training and support are effective in what we have provided to date’, he said. ‘We’re also gleaning what people would like to see in future in order to inform our way forward.

‘We are doing this to ultimately use as a springboard to provide future directions for funding and resources in coming years and to develop a CYFM strategic plan for the LCA.’

The importance of providing training opportunities, including considering opportunities for how this can be delivered in regional settings for lay workers, pastors and ministry volunteers has already been identified as a priority.

Grow Ministries and Grassroots Training will be working together to provide different avenues for training, resource identification and support.

A national CYFM conference with a focus on how to best utilise and apply key Faith Inkubators resources will be held in Queensland in September. It will provide vital opportunities for networking among congregations and individual practitioners.