At our online Insights hour for pastors and leaders this month, our guest speaker Omar Djoeandy spoke about redefining success in life and ministry. It was a timely reminder that, even subconsciously, we are all susceptible as leaders to think about success in ways that bear little resemblance to how Jesus understood it. We may become overwhelmed, or start listening to that internal voice that says we are not up to the task to which we’ve been called – not difficult to do in the challenging season we are in as Christian leaders coming out of COVID. Alternatively, we may lose sight of the fact that all God does in and through us is by his grace alone.
For Jesus, a life well lived was fulfilling the mission his Father had given him (John 6:39). May that be the case for all of us as leaders – may it stretch us to embrace God-sized visions for His glory, never losing sight of the call to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:36)
In this month’s Insights:News the Gen1K Health team reflects on making disciples, our Public engagement group highlight significant upcoming opportunities for your church to make its voice heard in the areas of Indigenous reconciliation and “Caring about Aged Care”. There’s lots of other helpful and informative stuff here as well – I encourage you to click and read!
As we approach this Easter season, I pray that you may experience afresh the wonder of Jesus’ great gift to us as he fulfilled his earthly mission on the cross. And the power active in his resurrection at work in and through you (Eph 1:19)!
Director of Ministries
Baptist Association of NSW & ACT
Welcome to Insights: News – the new Association resource delivered to your inbox monthly! Insights: News replaces our Pastors and Leaders Enews from prior years, and sits alongside our revamped monthly Insights online gathering for pastors and leaders. While you’ll continue to see helpful information and resources in this new format, Insights:News will have additional content that I trust will equip you in leadership and mission in your church!
You’ll see here encouraging stories from our churches and updates of what’s happening in various areas of our movement’s life, including our affiliated groups, so you can stay up to date. This month watch for a number of upcoming events to train and resource people in your church!
As I write this our Special Assembly is coming up fast on Saturday 27 February. This will be a time when we will be discussing and discerning some complex matters in the life of our movement. I was reminded and encouraged this morning by reflecting on Eph 4:1-6, where Paul says:
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.
In the previous chapter Paul has made the astounding statement that God’s wisdom is displayed through the church (Eph 3:10). His exhortation in these verses above is that this unity will require our active effort, focused around the source of our unity, God himself. Our unity with one another flows from our being united to Christ (Eph 2). As we all know unity is not uniformity or even necessarily agreement – otherwise I doubt Paul would either give it such weight as a matter of witness, or urge it so strongly, as it would be relatively easy to achieve in our own strength. But true unity is God-inspired and gives glory to Him. What a vision for God’s church! Unity is also a blessing to experience. It is a robust, God-honouring thing. My prayer is that at this Assembly, but also in the life of our churches and our movement generally we might, bring honour to the One whose name we bear.
Director of Ministries
Baptist Association of NSW & ACT
Read Statement from the Director of Ministries - Violence Against Women here
The increasing groundswell of reporting of violence and abuse against women and girls in recent times, from allegations in our parliamentary environment to reports of sexual assault and abuse in schools to revelations of misconduct by leaders in Christian organisations, bring again into sharp focus an awful reality that continues to be with us: we have significant work to do to end violence against women.
We know that one in three Australians have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man since the age of 15. One in four women have experienced it at the hands of an intimate partner*. We know that the explosion of online pornography is negatively shaping the emerging generation of adults’ attitudes to acceptable behaviour. And we know that, as the church, we are not immune from any of this.
As the voices of women and men increasingly join to say ‘enough’, I believe it is important for us also to continue to speak. To say to victim-survivors of abuse: we hear your voice. To say we acknowledge and grieve the disproportionate burden of abuse that is suffered by women; that too often their voices have gone unheard. And that we grieve for the times when these things have taken place within our own church communities.
We are thankful for the power and grace of God and seek His wisdom in identifying failings or bias. We are also thankful for those who help us identify concerns and issues that need attention. We welcome feedback that helps us in our mission.
I am encouraged that across our movement many leaders, churches and organisations speak up against abuse, offer care to the hurting, and take proactive measures to protect the vulnerable. As an Association we are committed to working for justice as part of our movement’s vision.
Our newly redeveloped Creating Safe Spaces training has additional expanded sections on important issues such as misuse of power, accountability, sexual harassment and sexual assault. Our Safe Church Health Check process assists churches to put frameworks in place to help create healthy culture. A number of Baptist organisations have whistleblower policies in place as required by law, and/or complaints processes, to allow the safe reporting of unacceptable behaviour.
I was heartened by the engagement with our No Place for Violence Here campaign and subsequent initiatives around domestic abuse. I look forward to the release later this year of further resources we are working on with Australian Baptist Ministries addressing domestic abuse and building relationally healthy communities. I also believe we have much work to do in addressing the normalisation of pornography in our society generally, and also too often its foothold in the lives of followers of Jesus.
Together we serve a King who cares for the vulnerable (Matthew 25:34-46; James 1:27), who does not grasp for power (Matthew 20:24-27; Philippians 2:6-7), and who delights in the truth (John 3:19-21; 1 Cor 13:6). Can I strongly encourage each of us (as I also challenge myself) in our spheres of capacity to reflect this example of Jesus and continue to work to see His Kingdom come in these areas in our own lives, across the life of our movement, and in our society.
Rev Dr Steve Bartlett
Director of Ministries
Find out more about what’s going on across different areas of our Gen1k & Association Ministries
Our Leadership Development Team continues to work towards recognising, raising, releasing and resourcing leaders in our movement as we pursue our Gen1K goals. We’re excited as….Keep reading by clicking below!
Click here to view Gen1k Leadership's March Update
Leadership Development Team continues to work towards recognising, raising, releasing and resourcing leaders in our movement as we pursue our Gen1K goals.
We’re excited as Louise Bartlett and our Children and Families ministry team run our Connect Conference at various venues last weekend. Shelley Ashton and our SRE team continue to work hard in this season of authorising many of our ongoing SRE teachers, while numerous new teachers are undertaking training in this key ministry.
Jenny Casey and team have started interviews of around 55 different people who, this year, are entering the accreditation or recognition process as leaders called in to pastoral ministry. Steve Dixon and team continue to connect with youth pastors and leaders and we are working towards a mid year Associate Pastors retreat too.
There’s lots more going on, so please pray for us as together we serve God and others.
Click here to view Gen1k Leadership's February Update
It was great to launch our Insights Zoom this month as the new iteration of the Pastors Q&A of 2020. It was exciting to share online with youth pastors and leaders across our movement at the BYM State Conference. We are hopeful that Covid restrictions will ease enough for our live events to get back to full swing.
It was exciting to share online with youth pastors and leaders across our movement at the BYM State Conference. It was sad not to be able to do this face to face, but we are hopeful that Covid restrictions will ease enough for our live events to get back to full swing. But we’re grateful for Steve Dixon and the BYM team who were able to connect over Zoom to youth pastors, leaders and teams across NSW and ACT for encouragement, inspiration and input.
Meanwhile Louise Bartlett and our Children’s and Families’ Team are gearing up for Connect Days in March to network and encourage people in our churches ministering in this key area. Keep an eye out to register.
It was great to launch our Insights Zoom this month as the new iteration of the Pastors Q&A of 2020. If you weren’t able to join us on Zoom on the day, look for the recording and try to join us on 17th March.
SRE teachers are getting back in to classrooms after a disruptive year. Please pray for Shelley Ashton and her team as they look after and are busy authorising our almost 700 teachers across NSW.
We’ve got a big year of interviews for leaders pursuing recognition and accreditation this year. Jenny Casey and team are busy guiding men and women in this process with some great leaders being raised as they pursue God’s calling on their lives. We’re also finalising a new process of recognition and accreditation during 2021 – so please pray for us.
Please continue to pray for us as a team as we continue to recognise, raise, release and resource leaders within our goal to see 1000 healthy churches in a generation.
This month we would love to extend an invitation for you to join us at Form conference in July 2021. It will be an exciting opportunity to join with Baptists from around Australia for the inaugural Baptists in Mission conference!……. Keep reading by clicking below!
Click here to view Gen1k Mission's March Update!
This month we would love to extend an invitation for you to join us at Form conference in July 2021. It will be an exciting opportunity to join with Baptists from around Australia for the inaugural Baptists in Mission conference!
Date: 5 – 7 July 2021
Time: 12pm – 6pm
We’ll start each afternoon together as the Form you know and love, around sharing and sparking ideas, storytelling, networking, team building as we seek God together for the Gen1k vision of 1000 healthy churches in NSW & ACT. Then we’ll connect in with our national movement, through the Baptists in Mission conference where speakers in other states and around the world will be livestreamed to us.
We’re excited to broaden the content at Form and participate in this event alongside our Baptist brothers and sisters around the country as we seek to be one movement, every place; sharing Jesus where God has placed us.
More information will be released through the Form website soon at www.4m.org.au! We are excited to collaborate with Baptists in Mission conference, make sure you put the 5-7 July in your diaries, we can’t wait to see you there.
Click here to view Gen1k Mission's February Update!
The Gen1K Mission Team are working with the Tinsley Institute and Morling College to put the gospel at the centre of the college. As part of Community Week at Morling, our Evangelism Consultant, Belinda Lakelin, is running a workshop with all students called Plan A: The Great Commission for Every Christian. Plan A also has an online small group series and other FREE resources you can use with your church. In partnership with Morling, we are also relaunching SENT, which is a one year experience that equips missional leaders for ministry in our rapidly changing world. Greater West for Christ are using this certificate as a yearlong intern program to train and release emerging leaders throughout the western suburbs of Sydney.
Another way our collaboration with Morling College is designed to partner with you in God’s mission is through the delivery of Mission in an Urban Context. This subject is a great opportunity to think about doing mission in the places where most people live: cities. Each week we’ll be exploring what the Bible has to say, considering the wisdom of those who have walked the journey before us, and hearing from a variety of contemporary urban mission practitioners around the world. We’ll also be having regular time away from the classroom to participate in an urban church planting team here in Sydney, helping them with their work and learning alongside them. It’s a unique course that require need a Bible, an atlas, and some walking boots too.
It’s not too late to enrol! You can contact Morling College for more information on how to do this.
The Forming Church Podcast continues to grow its influence, reaching an audience of over 3500 people. Season 2 is currently in development with a great list of guests lined up. You can join the online community on Facebook as we discuss the future of the Australian church.
To be inspired about how God can use anyone and everyone check out this story on how the good news of Jesus is transforming Cootamundra and growing a new church.
As I read through the New Testament it seems to me that Jesus made it very clear that those who call themselves followers of Jesus (Disciples), and those who gather in the name of Jesus (the church), are called by Jesus to, at the very least, do one thing and be one thing …. Keep reading by clicking below!
Click here to view Gen1k Health's March Update
Evaluating programs and ministries through the lens of Mission & Discipleship.
As I read through the New Testament it seems to me that Jesus made it very clear that those who call themselves followers of Jesus (Disciples), and those who gather in the name of Jesus (the church), are called by Jesus to, at the very least, do one thing and be one thing. The one thing Jesus specifically called us to do is Make Disciples. Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28: 18 & 19).
There are many ways to make disciples, there are lots of different programs, different ministries and different approaches. The real question we need to ask of ourselves and our ministries is, are we actually making disciples? Are our ministries, programs or approaches actually (literally) making disciples? Can we list the names and point out the people who have become disciples (followers of Jesus) as a direct result of our efforts?
When Jesus calls us to be his witnesses, he means that we would give witness (testify to; give or afford evidence of) to the Lordship and universal reign of the resurrected Jesus, the impact that he has on our lives and the purpose and direction which he gives us for life (and everything else). Our actions, our words, the ministries we engage in, the programs we run and the way we interact with those around us (inside and outside the church) is meant to give witness to Jesus, all that he is and that that he has done. Because we are called by Jesus to be His witnesses, one of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves and of all the programs and ministries we run is: “Does it reveal Jesus?”
These two questions, “Does it make Disciples?” & “Does it reveal Jesus?”, form a helpful lens through which we can view and evaluate a church’s ministry and programs. They also help us be honest about the extent to which a church’s ministries and programs are in line with Jesus’ call to make disciples and be a witness.
I am reminded of a playgroup ministry that was part of a church I was leading. It had been running for more than 17 years and it was a strong and healthy ministry, it had a good team, a great program, over 30 families regularly engaged, and it was well regarded and respected by the wider community. The only issue was that after 17 years no one could point to a single person coming to know Jesus in a real and personal way, nor could we identify anyone joining the church or attending the church – ever!
While a good ministry, it wasn’t making disciples and it wasn’t revealing or raising an interest in Jesus. There were many reasons, but the two that stood out were 1) everyone in the team were so busy running the program there was no time to build relationships with the very people they were trying to reach; and 2) there was no training or equipping in evangelism or faith sharing for team members, so that they had the skills and confidence in sharing their faith or giving witness to Jesus. With essentially no fruit (no witness to Jesus and no disciples), we made the decision to close the ministry and begin training and equipping people so that they could share their faith and have the room to connect relationally with those connected with the ministry from outside the church. Over the next few years, we saw people come to know Jesus, be baptised and join the church.
So here is the challenge, and it will take some courage. List all the ministries, activities and programs that happen in your church on any given week throughout the year and ask these two questions of everything:
- Does it make disciples?
- Does it reveal Jesus?
Click here to view Gen1k Health's February Update
Covid-19 has certainly provided both challenges and opportunities to rethink and reimagine how we engage with churches and provide training. We have had to learn how to deliver our Church Health Consultancy Training online, run church engagements and meetings with church leaders over ZOOM and connect with regions in new ways.
Like many others, we had to pivot and adapt to a constantly changing environment throughout the last season. We have had to learn how to deliver our Church Health Consultancy Training online, run church engagements and meetings with church leaders over ZOOM and connect with regions in new ways. Covid-19 has certainly provided both challenges and opportunities to rethink and reimagine how we engage with churches and provide training.
Church Health Consultancy currently has 5 trained trainers and 29 Specialist Consultants. A further 9 people have completed all the workshops of the 2-year training course in 2020 and the next cohort, which also comprises 9 people, will graduate at the end of 2021. A new cohort will commence the training in March 2021 with a focus on engaging regional participants.
The challenges of 2020, along with growing compliance requirements, saw a significant increase in Church Health engagements. Several of our smaller churches either closed or required significant help with leadership and governance. We also saw several churches pivot and respond to the challenges in innovating and creative ways.
The Church Health Team remains committed to serving our family of churches and providing assistance, training and resources to foster and develop health and vitality across our movement.
To find out more about your church’s Regional Minister, upcoming training, church health consultancy or personal/group coaching visit https://nswactbaptists.org.au/healthy-church/ or email us at email@example.com
From the Public Engagement Group:
This month we are bringing two important initiatives that your church can choose to engage with. Its time is a campaign being promoted by BaptistCare Australia. The Uluru Statement of the Heart is about finding a way for Indigenous leaders voices to be heard within federal parliamentary system. Find out more about each initiative below…. Keep reading by clicking below!
Click here to view Uluru Statement of the Heart
Submissions to government to support a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament
We would like to encourage you to familiarise yourself with the Uluru Statement of the Heart and consider making a submission to show your support for an enshrined Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution. Your voice is needed to show that this practical change is supported by the Australian people.
Please visit *https://fromtheheart.com.au/ to learn more about the campaign. It is as simple as saying you support the following three things:
1) The government must honour its election commitment to a referendum once a model for the voice has been settled;
2) Enabling legislation for the Voice must be passed after a referendum has been held in the next term of Parliament; and
3) The membership model for the National Voice must ensure previously unheard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of being selected as established leadership figures.
As Baptists, we care deeply about the autonomy of the local church and its ability to make decisions on issues that affect it, within its local context. We know the value of having authority over the decisions that affect us. This is what an enshrined Voice to Parliament will do for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The From the Heart campaign says,
A Voice to Parliament provides the foundation for better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are the ones that have the best understanding of the challenges facing their families and communities. They know the strengths of their communities and what can be achieved when they are involved in designing programs and services meant for them.
A Voice to Parliament will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, allowing them to take ownership and responsibility for the challenges that they face, and work constructively with governments from any political party to develop the laws and policies needed to Close the Gap. (https://fromtheheart.com.au/)
For resources for your church on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice visit Common Grace at: https://www.commongrace.org.au/aboriginal_and_torres_strait_islander_justice
*”From the Heart is an education project created to show Australians that an Indigenous Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution is fair, is practical, and that it is time that we make this change in the interests of our shared future. From the Heart is administered by the Cape York Institute and made possible through the generous support of our partners.”
Click here to view “It’s time to care about aged care”
“It’s time to care about aged care”
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recently released the Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report. This report highlighted a number of concerns with the current system of aged care (aged care includes the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Home Care Packages, and Residential Care). The cost of aged care, of which the government is the main funder, is projected to increase by 4% per year over the next decade. It is one of the largest service industries and is a system that is often difficult to access and to navigate. As you may know, My Aged Care doesn’t have all the information needed to compare services and providers and therefore it is difficult for people to make the right decision about what services they need. The waitlists for home care are extensive which means that during that waiting period there can be carer burnout, preventable hospitalisation, a decline in function, premature entry into residential aged care and sometimes death. Commissioner Lynelle Briggs highlighted that 1 in 3 people are receiving substandard care in residential aged care and home services.
Thanks to a new campaign backed by six aged care peak bodies and national organisations including BaptistCare Australia, you can do something about the aged care system. The campaign, called “It’s Time to Care about Aged Care” is calling on all of us to ask the government to overhaul the design, objectives, regulation and resourcing of aged care. Here are some steps you can take:
a) Visit https://www.careaboutagedcare.org.au/ to learn more about this campaign and sign the petition to government
b) Follow the campaign on social media and share social media posts (you can do this from BaptistCare Australia’s Facebook page)
c) Visit your MP to tell them your story and why you care about reforming the aged care system. For information on visiting your MP go to: https://www.baptistcareaustralia.org.au/news/article/its-time-to-care-about-aged-care-how-you-can-help/ and look at Step 4
We encourage you to lend your voice to this important campaign.
Other Ministry Updates
This survey looks at the way your church is approaching ministry pre-post covid. It seeks to help identify the resources, training and development you may find useful individually and at a church level and ultimately will inform how we are supporting churches accross 2021 and beyond.
All information provided is completely anonymous and will greatly impact the way we can continue to grow together.
Complete the Ministry Survey here: https://nswactbaptists.org.au/2021-march-ministry-survey/
Over the past month, several high profile issues have served to remind us of the critical importance of building Safe Church culture. To help support and resource our churches, we are hosting a Safe Church Team Network Evening on May 11 at 7:00 pm at the Ministry and Learning Centre in Macquarie Park ……. Keep reading by clicking below!
Click here to view Ministry Standard's March Update!
Over the past month, several high profile issues have served to remind us of the critical importance of building Safe Church culture. To help support and resource our churches, we are hosting a Safe Church Team Network Evening on May 11 at 7:00 pm at the Ministry and Learning Centre in Macquarie Park (with Livestream available for those in regional locations).
The NSW government has recently released a draft of the legislation that will soon make the Child Safe Standards mandatory for churches. We have been in communication with the Office of the Children Guardian to seek further clarification of the details and timeline of implementation and will provide information as soon as it is available. We have also invited Sam Burnett to the Safe Church Team Network Evening to speak on this new scheme to regulate compliance with the Child Safe Standards. Sam Burnett is a member of Northside Baptist Church and a Senior Associate at Prolegis Lawyers. Prior to working with Prolegis, Sam was a senior lawyer with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, where his responsibilities included contributing to the volume of the final report on religious institutions. Sam is well placed to provide further insight on the development and implementation of the Child Safe Standards.
We are celebrating with Cardiff Heights Baptist Church, Mosaic Baptist Church and Forbes Baptist Church who now join Heartbeat Church, Warners Bay Baptist Church and Beverley Hills Baptist Church in having satisfied the Safe Church Health Check. Many more churches have just a few final details to go, so we expect this cohort to grow quickly.
Our top tips for applications are:
1. Use our model documents – www.creatingsafespaces.org.au/resources
2. Engage the church with the missional purpose of Safe Church Culture
3. Make sure you have included all the relevant documents – including your procedures, PoC declaration and completed Safe Church Register
4. Contact Katie Watson firstname.lastname@example.org if you need additional guidance
5. Make sure your church leaders join the Safe Church Team Network Evening at 7:00 pm on Tuesday 11 May.
We would like to remind church leaders that *any allegations* that a staff member or volunteer has caused harm to a person under 18 *MUST* be reported to the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (or ACT Ombudsman) and then be investigated by the church. This includes historical matters and applies even if the Police are not pressing charges. Churches face fines for not making these reports in a timely manner. In addition, any allegation against any church attender of a sexual offence (against an adult or a child) must be reported to the Police, and may require a Persons of Concern risk management response, including appropriate investigation of the allegations, even where the Police do not press charges.
We recently relauched a BYM Newsletter that is emailed to all our Youth/Young Adult Pastors. The latest edition is packed full of goodies and we’ve put the summary right here!……. Keep reading by clicking below!
Click here to view BYM's March Update!
I have never worked in retail but I am familiar enough with the need for business to do stocktakes – that is ensuring accuracy on what is on the shelves compared to what is in the computer system. Do we really have 3 of those and 9 of that other thing?
I also know that this is not simply about having accurate records but looking to understand purchasing trends, forecasting, and making decisions around what is needed.
It might seem a little early to do a ‘ministry stocktake’ but I have found that March provides a window of time to check in with leaders and to reflect on how the year has started. Additionally, I am conscious that Easter is around the corner and so is next term.
So can I suggest the following over the coming weeks –
Write down 3 things that your grateful for and 3 things that are concerning you
Look around and take note of who is here and who is not
Make contact with a fellow worker to check in on how they are
Consider how you will help young people engage with Easter – on their own and in the context of what your church has in planned
Ensure that the things you have in mind for the coming months are moving along – events, messages, etc.
State Youth Camp
State Youth Camp 2020 was a new and exciting space for our team as we stepped into the online space delivering a local church SYC experience where youth groups gathered in their own church to engage with live streamed content, activities, our own short film festival and resources that were delivered to each church. With 26 churches and over 400 young people gathering across NSW and the ACT, while we weren’t all physically together our sense of belonging continued to grow. We have heard many stories from the churches of young people growing in their relationship with Jesus at SYC!
In 2021 all signs are pointing towards the exciting opportunity of gathering together again at Cataract Park Appin NSW, for State Youth Camp! Our theme for this year is ALL, and as our youth ministries gather together from Sept 17-20 we will explore ALL that God made us to be, ALL that Jesus did on the cross for us and how we can ALL be a part of something bigger!
We will continue to keep churches updated as restrictions change, so look out for info on our social media on how you can register your church to attend SYC 2021
What’s happening next?
The story of Easter is woven throughout the Bible. A message of hope for children and families to carry wherever they go. Here are some resources to share and help everybody carry the story. Praying that this season Jesus’ death and resurrection brings hope to you and your community. ……. Keep reading by clicking below!
Click here to view Children & Family Ministries March Update!
The story of Easter is woven throughout the Bible. A message of hope for children and families to carry wherever they go. Here are some resources to share and help everybody carry the story. Praying that this season Jesus’ death and resurrection brings hope to you and your community.
Easter @ Home
Purchase this resource from our online store here. $1 each
“A Sense of the Resurrection: an Easter Experience for Families contains 12 fun, hands-on, easy, meaningful activities to help your kids come face to face with the Easter story. It’s easy enough for all ages, but meaningful enough for parents and kids to have a new understanding and appreciation of the greatest gift God gave us–Jesus, his sacrifice, resurrection and eternal friendship!”
OurStory Monthly Pastor's Bio: Scotty Daniels
My name is Scotty Daniels and I’m the Youth and Young adults pastor at Community Life Church Cherrybrook, I’ve been in my role here for almost 6 years.
As a teenager I was away on a camp at 15, my journey with Jesus had been growing deeper and deeper, and while away on this camp I was overwhelmed by the impact that Jesus was having on my life, the love, the hope, the joy that had come into my life through knowing him. It was at that camp that I felt the clear call to use my life to help other teenagers hear about Jesus and experience the same life changing salvation that had impacted me.
From there it was very much God who continued to open doors into many different roles, courses and opportunities that helped grow and develop my leadership to where it currently is today.
Working amongst our Baptist association has been an incredible blessing for me, allowing me to get to know other youth pastors and leaders and allowing us to grow and encourage each other.
Its also given me the opportunity to serve as part of the state youth camp team for the past few years, something I’m extremely passionate about. Camp for me helps to bring not only youth but also youth ministries together from all across the state to worship and grow together in Jesus and shows young people that their faith in Jesus is not just something at a local level they are a part of something so much bigger, something that had a huge impact on my faith as a young person. Taking part in camp reshaped our ministry when I first started.
Also taking part in our annual youth ministry conference has had a transformational effect on how we as a church engage all ages of our church congregation with our youth and young adults to help them be able to both see and interact with others as they journey with Jesus through all stages of life in the hope that they too will follow Jesus all life long.
If you haven’t been engaging much with the association activities…DO IT, you wont regret it.
Please pray that God will continue to equip me to grow faithful leaders, that together we may teach our youth and young adults, both churched and no churched, what it is to follow Jesus all life long.
View Past Bio's Below!
February: Ty & Sarah Soupidis
Church on the Hill, Gloucester
Sare, Xavier, Samira, Eli and I (that’s the Soupidis family, by the way) planted Church on the Hill in Gloucester in 2013 after God spoke to us through conversations with people around our town. Though it is a small town, Gloucester has 8 different churches who work together quite happily. The “flavour” missing in the Gloucester area was a church community for those who have no understanding of church culture.
We felt God was calling us to kick off a community for those people, the church “misfits” or the people we used to glamorously call the “Spiritually Homeless.” We longed to see a place they could talk about Jesus and explore faith without having to know anything about the process. So we opened our home and then other spaces to start a Simple Church Community.
One word which accurately describes our church space is “messy”. For most of our church life, children and youth have been a significant part of our church, usually more than 50%. Sare and I resonate so strongly with the message Louise Bartlett has been sharing about kids in church. If you haven’t heard her speak on this topic, do everyone a favour and listen to it today. For her, and us, kids are not a ministry of the church, they are the church. They are part of who we are, and have things to give to as well as things to learn. We have tried so many different things to allow kids and youth to shape our community, through having a band of Primary School-aged children (when they began 5 years ago…still on board today!), to having kids give prophetic words to the adults through prayer, and heaps of other fires and misfires. Messy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s been a work in progress, but so worth it to have a church of all ages. Possibly it has beenan easier journey because of our style as a Simple Church.
Until coming on board with the Association of Baptist Churches, we hadn’t even heard of Simple Church. And while it is still hard to define, we found the fit was perfect for us in this network. We were hoping to start a church which avoided formality, and the Simple Church is committed to this process. I want to honour people like Elizabeth and Keith Ward, Ben and Anne-Marie Thow, Les and Lyn Scarborough who have inspired and encouraged us in the journey. We have also been so blessed by those in the leadership roles at Baptist HQ. From the days when Steve Bartlett was head of church planting and would talk and dream with us, to the encouragement of Jamie Freeman, Pete Davies and many others. We weren’t Baptist people historically, but have loved being with you guys for this journey, and have made lifelong friends here.
The thing I think we all need as leaders is encouragement and inspiration. So many of us feel like we are carrying a heavy load alone. And even though we know God is with us, we really do need family on the road as an outworking of God being with us. Church is always a “together” journey. The Simple Church Network have been a really encouraging mob. And from the first days, the FORM conference has been a major encouragement and inspiration. In my earliest days, I leaned heavily into AJ Cole as a leadership mentor and Ben Thow as a coach. These relationships were the difference between sinking and swimming. Thanks everyone who has believed in us and encouraged what God is calling us to do- it has not been an easy journey for most of the time, but God is in it and some of you have seen that and called it out in us. We are so grateful.
Our ongoing prayer would be twofold. Firstly, that we would keep pushing into the cracks and seeking to love spiritually homeless people and help them seek Jesus. This is why we planted. It is not always “fruitful” labour, so prayers for joy and faithfulness would be really appreciated. Secondly, and almost as importantly, that those who come would move forward and take an active part in the life of the Church on the Hill community. We want to release and encourage leadership for all ages, and again this is not a simple or easy process but it is so worth it.
Thanks for standing with us, and hearing this part of our story. If you’d like to connect up or hear more about our story, find me at
Updates from Affiliated Groups
Find out what’s going on with our Affiliated Groups.
Baptist World Aid Australia - Even in the Dark Places’: A Q &A with Marbz Diaz
‘Even in the Dark Places’: A Q &A with Marbz Diaz
Meet the new National Church Engagement Manager at Baptist World Aid Australia
By Meredith Wright, Baptist World Aid.
When Marbeun Diaz was growing up in the Philippines, he spent his first ten years living in a red-light district. Surrounded by poverty and heartache, the young boy began to question, ‘Where are you, God, in this dark situation?’
Now Marbuen (or as he prefers, ‘Marbz’) leads the Church Engagement team at Baptist World Aid Australia. After 18 years pastoring a church, he joined the work at Baptist World Aid and in December 2020 was promoted to his new position as National Manager, overseeing a staff of five across the country.
Today, with a deeply held conviction that ‘God is always there – present even in dark places’, Marbz’ passion in service and leadership is to inspire others to see God at work where they might not otherwise.
We sat down with Marbz’ to talk about the invitation he feels God is issuing to Australian Christians to partner with vulnerable, marginalised people.
BWA: Tell us a bit about your role and why you love being a part of Baptist World Aid.
MARBZ: I love being a part of what God is doing here – both overseas and here in Australia. As a pastor, I felt called to make disciples and that is still my calling. It is a privilege to be part of an invitation to churches in Australia to join in what God is doing in vulnerable communities overseas.
For me, the gospel is an invitation to step into empathy, and ask, ‘how will God’s grace respond to the situation faced by those on the margins?’ It is not enough just to be accepted into God’s grace; he wants us to grow in that grace.
BWA: But sometimes issues around global poverty can feel overwhelming. How do you stay hopeful?
MARBZ: Firstly, seeing the witness of my brothers and sisters overseas brings about a fire in my soul that encourages me. They lead me in my understanding of what resilience is and what faith looks like. In situations of crisis, upon crisis, or war upon war, the witness of these faithful servants will outlast any conflict. Their witness is like the Cedars of Lebanon in the Psalms.
Our supporters here in Australia also inspire hope. They don’t know our brothers and sisters in these places, and yet they respond, in solidarity to loving their neighbours, with generosity. Seeing the work God is doing in his people here in Australia, seeing their generosity and God’s grace at work gives me hope.
BWA: What are some ways we can practically participate in addressing global challenges today?
MARBZ: First, pray. And then, pursue awareness.
Our prayer creates a desire to understand these situations better, that understanding then deepens our care and leads us back to prayer. We don’t come to God hopeless, we come with faith. When we pray, we pray believing God can and will act. When we pray, we come to understand our place in seeing God’s kingdom come here on earth.
Pic: Marbz Diaz, Church Engagement National Manager for Baptist World Aid Austrlaia
Pic Credit: BWA
Author: Meredith Wright at Baptist World Aid.
BaptistCare - HopeStreet
BaptistCare HopeStreet, the Community Services division of BaptistCare, offers unique services that meet the local needs of disadvantaged communities and people living on the margins, including as a consequence of relationship breakdown, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health, addiction and domestic abuse.
HopeStreet releases a quarterly print, eNews and online magazine called Hope Magazine. If you would like to receive the online Hope magazine, please click on the link to go to the signup form. You can always unsubscribe or resubscribe to the eNews at any time.
Stories from previous Hope eNews can be found online here https://hopestreet.org.au/about-us/newsroom/
Morling College - Graduation Ceremony
Global Interaction - May Mission Month:
As we head into the second quarter of 2021 many Churches ramp up their ‘May Mission Month’ programs. Our global mission agency, Global Interaction, has produced a range of resources for use in Churches, Youth Groups, Kids’ Clubs, Home Groups and the like.
They are not specifically branded for use in May – and so can be used any time in any context
A new initiative this year is the ‘for kids from kids’ series featuring the children of our intercultural workers – sharing their experiences in their own words – it’s a brilliant conversation starter around global mission for children!
You can find all the resources here and simply clicking on the drop down tabs.
Crossover - NCLS results released to help during unprecedented times!
National Church Life Survey recently released some valuable information for church leaders from their latest Australian Community Survey results in response to COVID-19 restrictions. NCLS offered five clues to inviting Australians to church and allowing churches to continue to connect with their local communities. They are presented as a series of short videos.
NCLS also launched a wellbeing check for church leaders which is an invaluable tool in these unprecedented times.
Click here to read more and access these resources.
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