There is a lot of building going on in our area at the moment, and I am always surprised by how slow the process seems in the beginning. A lot of time is spent laying the foundations, but as soon as they are established the rest of the building seems to go up quickly. It is clear that foundations are worth spending time on because good foundations mean sound structures.
In my work at Youthworks College, I see a different kind of foundation being laid in the lives of leaders, like Amelia. Amelia recently graduated from Youthworks College and she now works at Hope Anglican Church, Leppington as the Children’s Worker. She has also been involved in some ministries in Pakistan who partner with Anglican Aid and has the longer-term plan of working overseas.
Jesus spoke about these good foundations. He spoke of the wisdom of building on rock and not sand (Matt 7:24-27). He was speaking of those who heed his word and put it into practice but the general principle of sound foundations is clear and obvious. “How firm a foundation, you people of God, is laid for your faith in his excellent word…” as the old hymn goes.
It is worth taking time and employing experts to build solid foundations. This is not only a building lesson but a ministry lesson as well, as we commence a new year and welcome a new group of students to Youthworks College. As these young people join us to prepare for their ministries to youth and children, they need firm foundations in three areas: theology, ministry, and personal character, and a good course of study at a Bible college will provide all three.
Theological foundations are the ‘foundation of the foundations’. Students study God’s word and think about how to properly interpret and apply that word. They reflect on how people have engaged that word in history and theology. In all this, they are building a foundation, a Christian worldview that will give them a firm place to stand amongst the shifting sands of the contemporary world.
Ministry foundations are important as students think how to conduct a ministry, in the name of Christ, that is faithful. A ministry that is grounded in their understanding of who God is, and what he is doing in our world.
Personal foundations are established as students understand in greater depth their identity as a child of God, by grace, and all this means. This is a growing sense of who they are that will prove to sustain for the long haul as they engage in the joyful but challenging task of ministry in the name of Christ.
In a recent conversation with Amelia, I asked how her time at Youthworks College and Year 13 laid solid foundations for her current life and ministry. Amelia reflected that her time at Youthworks College opened her up to ‘a deeper way of understanding Scripture. I began to see how each book of the Bible led to the others and ultimately find their fulfillment in Christ and His Kingdom. As well as becoming well equipped to ponder big theological questions, Youthworks gave me the hermeneutical tools to read and teach the Bible faithfully’.
This foundation also helped establish patterns for her ministry. Amelia says that she was equipped ‘to handle and teach the Bible faithfully to different ages and learning stages. The skills that I learnt at Youthworks built a framework that is adaptable in any ministry and has given me the confidence to boldly teach God’s Word across a multitude of settings’.
Alongside this, she also was given the opportunity to think through the ‘theology and practice of youth and children’ ministry. I learnt that God values each child and the development of their faith. I began to see the unfolding role of the Church and family in the discipleship of our young people and how key it is to have faithful leaders in youth and children’s ministry’.
On a personal note, Amelia found that ‘Youthworks was foundational to me understanding my identity and security in Christ: that I am called to salvation in Christ and called to live out His Kingdom purposes here on this earth. This understanding of Jesus and His Gospel has led me to make decisions that have seen me move hours from my hometown and even head overseas to proclaim the Hope of Jesus’.
As we begin the year please pray for Youthworks College as it continues, under God, to establish firm foundations in the lives of young people. We want to see an effective youth and children’s ministry in every church providing firm foundations for young people everywhere. These foundations must be continually built, tended to and reinforced, and perhaps you should consider taking advantage of what Youthworks College has to offer in one of its programmes to tend to your own foundations.
I will give Amelia the last word…
’Upon reflection, the thing I am most grateful for is how the knowledge and theology of God and His Word was never separated from the practice of living a deeply discipled life. I am so grateful to God for the theological training I received at Youthworks. It has laid the foundation of my life and my ministry on God and His Word and for that I am, truly, eternally grateful.’
Firm foundations indeed.