On Saturday we attended the Growing Faith Conference in Sydney. This is a conference run by Youthworks for families, both to model good family ministry and to teach parents in particular some wisdom on parenting and church.
I went for 2 reasons. First, as a family we went to enjoy fellowship and encouragement with other families. The second was to milk as much wisdom for the The Point Community Church.
The conference was split into 4 parts: an all together style church service, followed by 2 seminars and then a free play family fair with lunch. Over the next couple of days I will post some reflections on the first 3.
#1 The all together style service
The Point is a church overflowing with children, especially young ones. Learning how to be a church that nurtures and grows them inline with all the saints is a challenge. We don’t want to just silo them off into separate churches. Yet there is a place for age specific programs and teaching on a Sunday.
I was very excited to see the Growing Faith team run an all in Church to start the conference. There was a great buzz in the room as 9:30 loomed. The rabble of babies and toddlers was mixed with the excited chatter of older kids. Then it began.
Well led singing: It was a joy to sing. It was a joy to be well led. Emma gave all ages the chance to be involved. She taught us a newish song really well. She was able to build a sense of presence, awe and joy with people of all ages.
Teaching: Matt and the Professor were very, very good. They explored light: Your word is a light to my feet (Psalm 119:110). The guys were able to teach this passage at a depth that excited me. It was not a kid’s spot as such. It was a sermon that kids could also listen to. High quality
Interview: The team interviewed a really interesting family about how to grow the next generation of disciples. This family had kids from 22 to 7 years of age. What was interesting was the variety of things the parents had tried to raise their children in the Lord.
The session was a great start to the morning. High quality, yet not relying on bells and whistles that conferences normally use. I would have enjoyed more singing, especially some kids songs. My little one in particular missed that. The teaching and the interview were both a little long winded. The crowd was tiring from so much listening at 10:15. It would also in the future be great to see some different ideas trialed in this session. Things such as how we pray with kids in church and other interactive elements would be interesting. Overall I was really encouraged.
One last thought. Big churches in Sydney are given a hard time often. They are accused of only thinking of themselves, stealing good people, etc etc. St Paul’s Castle Hill were a model Church on Saturday. The way they loved the families was stunning. Watching staff and a tribe of volunteers serve the conference, from sound guys to food people, baristas to carpark people to senior staff delivering water to seminar speakers was so encouraging. God is doing great things at St Paul’s. Model servants. Thank you. (ps. thanks to all the other churches who sent people to work on kids programs too)