Most of us never get to see the Sunday School teachers, or Lights leaders in action but if you do it’s a lesson in faithfulness.
To see a group of children, or youth, sitting with their leader, reading the bible – not wasting time or fooling around – is very moving. The teachers and leaders know the Lord and want their group to know Him too. They know the doctrines of grace and want their group to rejoice in them too. They know their way around the bible (to varying degrees) and want their group to read the text in context.
The way that these teachers and leaders have come through the St Thomas’ programmes – being gospelled then trained and appointed and used by God is very wonderful. And I wanted (before I finish) to say how grateful I am for all who have led the work and loved the young people – including the way my own children did this.
When we came in 1989 we left a suburb that was teeming with children and our own three (Rachel, Beth and Sam – then aged 8, 5 and 3) left behind a large Sunday School for an almost non-existent one at St Thomas’. It was a loss for them. Kathy would leave the morning service before the sermon and take our three (and sometimes one or two more) back to the rectory for a class in the house or garden. Soon children began to arrive in the following years.
Rachel (our eldest) had noone her age in the church and went through this tiny programme – it was many years before she had a peer group again. She grew to help with the Sunday School then the Youth group. She taught Tiny Toms and then moved to the Youth groups. (Toms – years 7-9 and Basic – years 10-12) and began to lead them as well. Then Rachel joined and led the Retro group (post High School) and the camps held at Vision Valley, Katoomba (Triple M) and also Study Camps. She met 1:1 with young girls and helped them believe and grow. Many received their grasp of the gospel and help in following Jesus from her. She also cooked on Summer Camp. I continue to meet people who were helped by her!
Beth (our second) had begun the Tiny Toms group with Sally Swan. She went on to teach Phantom with Ruth Brigden and Toms with Andrew Levy. Beth was a bible study leader and met 1:1 with some of the girls who are (today) serving the Lord keenly. Beth also began to join the music ministry – playing at the evening service and then joining the morning music too – at one point she was coordinating one of the bands that took turns at Sunday music. Beth and my favourite son-in-law Derek led a small group for a couple of years and he helped greatly with the evening music as well. When they married in 2009 she and Derek went to do their MTS two years in Chile. Her service has been wonderful.
Sam (our youngest) went through the same programmes and then began to lead Atoms and Toms. From 2005 to 208 he was a co-leader in the Youth ministry and during his time at Moore (2012-2015) he worked for two of those years as a student minster – leading the youth ministry with a fine team. From Sam’s creative brain came the ideas for “Summer Camp” (and once or twice a Wintercamp) for youth which has been so instrumental in conversions and cementing membership. Sam began the “Double up” (bring a friend) and the H.S.C. support (“Desklights”). He thought of the “Cheap Eats” ministry (to support gospel causes) – got involved with drumming, leading services and preaching. His 1:1 ministry was most fruitful as well. He formed and keeps great friendships.
One of the things we have appreciated enormously at St Thomas’ is that from Day One there were no expectations on what Kathy or the children would do. Some churches expect the minister’s wife and family to run everything but we have been able to find our way and the church family have spread the load around. Having said that, it was not always easy for my children. My head would go out of the home to church work and sometimes they got the leftovers. They have been very patient and forgiving with their Dad. I’ve learnt a lot of grace from them – while being hugely thankful for each of them – their gifts and graces astound me.
The balancing act when clergy children are involved in ministry can be difficult too. If my son asked if a bus could be arranged for a youth event and I put it to the wardens – what if the answer was “no”? How do I relay that message? Was the decision a fair one? Would I get a ‘yes’ because I’m the minister asking for him or a ‘no’ because I’m the minister asking for him?! There were a few awkward moments along the way – and yet the minister’s children have to try and fit in with everyone else…but may never be quite seen that way. Keep up the prayer and grace! Having said all that, Rachel, Beth and Sam received a great deal from this church family and – I want you to know – gave wonderfully to the ministries. They served and served (as so many do). I love them and thank the Lord for them because of who they are.