News and Articles
24 September 2016
Last Saturday, we held a ‘thank you’ party for our children and youth teams. I am amazed at how many committed, gifted people serve week by week out of a love for God and a desire to show these young people what it means to know Jesus. It’s staggering, and I thank God for each of them.
A whole life ahead
The 19th-century evangelist D.L. Moody was once asked how a meeting had gone.
‘We had two and a half conversions,’ he replied.
‘You mean two adults and one child?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘Two children and one adult. The adult has only half his life left.’
Our prayer is that our children and young people will love and follow Jesus throughout their lives. In a world where people feel insecure, anxious, and lost, it’s wonderful for a child to understand that God created them, delights in them, and has rescued them from sin, and that joy and peace come from knowing Jesus.
Thanks from John and Alison
John Risbridger said, ‘It was a huge joy for Alison and me to attend the celebration event for our children and youth teams. It was amazing to be with such a large number of people devoted to making disciples of Jesus among the rising generation.’
Alison expressed her thanks to the team with three hats on:
- as a parent whose children have benefitted greatly from the children’s and youth work
- as a member of the leadership team, which is so encouraged by all God is doing in this area of church life
- as a member of the GSMA team, who sees the gifts, commitment, and hard work of the team.
Encouragements from Mark’s Gospel
John encouraged us from the Bible:
It is hugely encouraging to spend time with all of you who work so hard in our children and youth ministries. We are very blessed as a church to have such a large, committed, and gifted team. One thing that stands out to me is the rock-solid commitment to keeping the Bible at the heart of your work, from the earliest stages of children’s ability to understand, through to the teenage years, and all the transition points along the way.
In Mark 4, Jesus gives us a series of parables which encourage and help all of us who teach the Bible to people, across the generations.
The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1–20)
We often see this as ‘the parable of the soils’, but Jesus himself referred to it as ‘the Parable of the Sower’ (Matthew 13:18). This parable is for all of us involved in sowing the seed of God’s word into peoples' lives. It tells us that we will experience various responses to that ministry. There is no hint that Jesus is implying criticism of the sower. Rather, when we bring the word of God to people, we must expect joy and disappointment, progress and setback, warmth and indifference.
That is the reality of ministry across all generations. It reminds us that we cannot depend simply on good preparation and creative communication (though both are important). There is a work in people’s hearts which only God can do, so we need to be serious about prayer, and willing, in the end, to trust the results to him.
The Lamp on the Stand (Mark 4:21–25)
Even though we face different responses to the gospel, we must keep putting the ‘light of the gospel ’on ‘a stand’ for people to see. In other words: don’t get distracted from the core work of investing the truth of scripture into our young people’s lives. It isn’t to be hidden away, but shared with others!
The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26–29)
This parable reminds us that the results of our work are largely hidden – you can’t see seeds springing to life under the soil. You may feel that your work is hidden away and no one notices – though God sees it all and loves to see you use your gifts for his glory. You may see little fruit from all you are doing and wonder if it’s all worthwhile. All of us who sow God’s word into peoples' lives sometimes feel those things. But God is at work nonetheless, and we can keep going with confidence that his work, done in his way, in dependence on his power, will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30–34)
Mustard seeds are tiny, yet produce large garden plants. The work of God’s kingdom, which advances through communicating the word, is the same. It seems small to us – just a few youngsters having a conversation round a table – yet God is building a kingdom that will fill the whole world! We play a tiny part in a great project which will give the future its shape and will fill the earth with the glory of God.
So thank you for all you invest in our children and young people’s lives! It’s a ministry that we love and are convinced God will honour in many lives. Don’t be discouraged, don’t be distracted, and don’t give up, because whether we see it ourselves or not, there will be a harvest for Jesus and the gospel.