By CCCNZ Youth Enabler Murray Brown
When I was appointed as CCCNZ National Youth Enabler in 2017, I noticed a real need and desire for networking among our youth pastors and key leaders. Some were incredibly experienced and effective, while others were new and trying to learn on the job.
These youth workers were keen to meet with others, but most either laboured on alone or joined networks established by mainline denominations.
At our first Youth Summit, in May 2018, 25 youth pastors and key leaders met for three days at Totara Springs in Matamata. Ideas were shared and friendships were forged, and we all agreed we needed to do this annually.
I realised I was becoming “CCCNZ Youth”. I was someone to run events, send out newsletters, and coach youth pastors...
But what if CCCNZ Youth wasn’t me, but all of us engaged in youth ministry in our movement of churches, campsites and support ministries?
Building a National CCCNZ Youth Team
On 19 November last year, I called together a group of seven enthusiastic and experienced youth pastors who had already demonstrated a desire to contribute to our wider movement beyond their own local church. We met for a day and essentially grappled with the question, “If we are CCCNZ Youth, what do we think we should do in order to achieve our aim of developing effective leaders in healthy youth ministries?”
By the end of the day the whole room was buzzing and we had a list of 26 action points!
Perhaps the key action point was this: we need to build a National CCCNZ Youth Team, people who could continue to develop the vision and strategy while assisting me in roles of coaching and face-to-face contact with the youth leaders in our regions.
Currently, we've made four appointments to this team and we have three others in the pipeline.
DONNA GRANT: Coaching
Donna has over 10 years of youth ministry experience ranging from being an intern to a Youth Pastor at Crossroads in Palmerston North where she completed a Diploma in Theology and a Diploma in Family Studies. She's a full-time mum to two children and intends to eventually resume her studies to complete a Bachelor in Counselling, with a focus on youth and families.
MARINA SHANNON: North Shore/West Auckland Regional Youth Enabler
Marina is the youth pastor at Orewa Community Church where she has served since 2014. She also works part-time as a physiotherapist.
BRAD DE VILLIERS: Wellington Regional Youth Enabler
Brad has been involved in youth ministry for 17 years, all within the Wellington Region. He started as a church intern in Karori. I then ran the Karori Youth Drop-in Centre for the council, for 2.5 years. He is the youth pastor at The Anchor Church in Whitby where he has been involved with young people for over 13 years, including working in Aotea College (24-7) and in other youth-related settings.
SEAN YOUNG: Top of the South Island Regional Youth Enabler
Sean works at Grace Church in Richmond, Nelson, where he has been employed as a youth pastor for the past four years. Previously, he has served with the NZ Army in Bosnia and has worked for the NZ Police. He and his wife have two young children.
A team to help shape direction
Our goal is to be decision-making as a team. We hope to meet face-to-face with grassroots youth leaders in different regions as we create a pipeline for action plans to flow from the bottom up and not the top down.
We hope the experiences, ideas, and needs of local church youth leaders can be heard and taken seriously and can be used to shape what happens at a national level.
We also recognise that networking is more than just developing strategy. A deeper dynamic is at work.
We are part of a movement with a common heritage and a shared conviction of what church life and ministry is all about.
There is something inspiring about being a part of something that is bigger than just ourselves. Something is inspiring about a local church saying that it wants to be Linked-In with like-minded others in our movement so that we might all mutually “encourage one another on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). And something is inspiring about seeing the wider church operate as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:22-26).