In an age often characterised by short-term focuses, individualism, and instant gratification, our core value of being relationally committed can be a difficult one to envisage, let alone articulate. We asked Luke McCoy from Parramatta Baptist to share about one way they have been actively helping young people to experience and develop this value of being relationally committed.
Two years ago I heard about a vision birthed in the heart of Soul Survivor NSW to send 40 mission teams to 40 rural towns partnering with local churches to serve their community as the hands and feet of Jesus. I was totally committed to being part of this Kingdom of God adventure in 2012, taking a team of 15 teenagers and young adults from our church community to join with Blayney Baptist Church (3 hours west of Sydney). It was decided we would run a Children’s holiday program in Millthorpe which had experienced an influx of young families with the mining boom in Orange NSW.
The mission trip was propelled by the words of Matthew 9:35-38 recording how Jesus went from town to town proclaiming and demonstrating the good news of the Kingdom and having compassion on the crowds. The opportunity to join with Blayney Baptist enabled our teenagers to live these words of Jesus for 1 week together in the rhythm of worship, service and mission, knowing that we were part of a larger move of God in rural NSW.
We had such a great experience in 2012 that we sent another team out to Blayney in 2013, billeting with local church families and running a children’s holiday program for primary age students. None of this would have been possible without the love, support and encouragement of Andrew Parkinson, senior pastor of Blayney Baptist Church who has made each trip possible. He has given me real insight into the challenges and opportunities facing country churches as they seek to make the gospel engaging for their local communities. I have been so encouraged by Andrew dedication to the children and youth in Blayney, making it a priority to teach scripture classes and be involved in school communities. It has been encouraging to know that our mission trips are not one off service projects, but deeply rooted in the vision and strategic direction of Blayney Baptist Church.
Rural church partnership has the ability to be a mutual blessing to both communities involved and our teams have returned inspired, challenged and more in love with Jesus. Those who have participated in our times away have experienced:
Sharing the gospel
Each mission trip has provided opportunities for us to meet local children, youth and families who do not know Jesus. Through bible stories, testimonies and small groups we have seen children come to Christ and won favour in the local community.
Opportunities to use and explore gifts
Each trip has provided opportunities for our teenagers to write bible studies, lead worship, be involved in dramas, run small groups and program activities etc.
Build new relationships
Our brothers and sisters in Christ at Blayney are wonderful people who have shown us hospitality and friendship beyond our expectations.
Following Jesus is meant to be an adventure and our rural church partnership is still in its early stages, but already we are experiencing the joy of making Jesus known in our world together.
Luke McCoy is serving as part time youth pastor at Parramatta Baptist Church. His time is focused upon youth programs, small groups and school scripture involvement.