Dear brothers and sisters,

Tomorrow our Lights Youth begin their Summer Camp at Youth Works, Port Hacking.  Gerard O’Brien will be speaking from Ecclesiastes.  There are 22 leaders, 5 ‘servant squad’ (others who have volunteered to help in addition to regular leaders) and 105 students attending.  The Camp will go from 15th-19th January.

I want to ask you to join me in praying for this key element of the Lights ministry.  Please ask the Lord to…

It is an enormous privilege as a church to have a ministry of the quality, size and spiritual reality that we do at St Thomas’ with Lights.  Lights is a youth work that is not ‘ashamed of the gospel’ and where there is a genuine trust among the leadership that the gospel – and not gimmicks – ‘is the power of God for salvation’.  That hasn’t happened by chance.  It is the result of the theologically clear, hard-working and prayerful leadership of Gerard O’Brien and the leaders he has nurtured.   The Lord has blessed this faithfulness tremendously.  We have much to give thanks to God for because of what he has done.

I don’t need to tell you that young people are living in a culture where becoming a Christian and then living as a Christian is so difficult.  Ignorance about Christianity abounds.  Moreover becoming a Christian today is not only considered naïve (as it was when I was a teenager) but is actually to sign up to a religion that is considered harmful and immoral.  (I haven’t read it yet but this is the basic thesis of Steve MacAlpine’s book, Being the Bad Guys: How to Live for Jesus in a World That Says You Shouldn’t.)

This could lead us to despair and a nostalgic longing for a bygone era.  And too often that, I fear, is the response among us older Christians.  But we need to stop that and instead believe the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:18)  He has and will continue to keep his promise!

The Lord has given us as a church tremendous opportunity for the advance of the gospel among children and young people.  Our responsibility as a church and as older believers is to seize that opportunity by earnest prayer and costly investment in the evangelisation and then teaching of children and youth.

What they need from us is what is taking place in Lights now – not a timid and diluted Christianity that panders to the surrounding culture but the authentic gospel taught unashamedly and in depth through the Scriptures.

A key part of our Vision 2030 for St Thomas’ will be how we do this more and more.  The Lord has entrusted us with precious young people.  He has placed us within the reach of so many others: under 1km from 7 large High Schools, the North Sydney Demonstration School and the Australian Catholic University.  May the Lord enable us to do this work so that we see many saved and serving him to the glory of Christ in the years to come!

Your brother in Christ,