By Evan Englezos
18 May 2022
When I turned 18, a youth pastor approached me to begin a new youth service. I was excited at the opportunity. We drew a lot of people into our community and experimented with different expressions of church, with various degrees of success. Looking back, it was a very formational time for me and my peers.
Some key ingredients that contributed to this included:
- Being identified, guided and released in creativity
- Strong trust, ownership and collaboration
- A safe environment to experiment and permission to fail
This experience taught me the value of participating in wholehearted Christian service. It taught me to include and raise up young people. When I was on staff at St Hilary’s Kew an important focus was to identify and encourage teenagers in their gifting and their walk with Jesus. With the right guidance, they can have an important role in re-building our churches.
In a recent Facebook post about 31 vacant parishes in Melbourne Ridley lecturer Andrew Judd suggested that “every clergy in Melbourne needs to be personally inviting five young people to have dinner together with them to hear about the character and gifts they’ve observed in all of them and why the church desperately needs their leadership now.”
I’ve never felt called to ordination or formal theological studies. As a creative lay leader, I do not fit an obvious mould or fit neatly in a ministry box. I expect there are many younger people who also question the value of their gifts and what role they can play in Christian service. But there are many lay roles that will be pivotal in COVID-normal church. Creative people to identify will include techs, gamers, artists, storytellers, welcomers and hospitality givers.
The church and the creative industry need each other more than ever. Many creatives have been starved of opportunities during COVID. But some have found new ways to adapt online, and I anticipate that more hybrid expressions will emerge. Imagine the potential for Christian artists in and around our church communities to express their creative talents in physical and online spaces with art shows, music, dance, Stations of the Cross and other new expressions.
From my experience, being released to use my creative gifts brings joy and effectiveness that contributes to sustainable ministry. Creating opportunities around each person’s gifting will be more effective than trying to attract people to pre-existing ministries that don’t involve their areas of interest and experience.
Releasing lay people into new ministries requires intentional leadership, and the good news is that many of these intentions are finding expression in our churches. Practical steps towards this include:
- Building a united vision and commitment
- Resourcing and budgeting
- Identifying people’s gifts and the opportunities
- Enabling lay ministry and giving permission
- Providing parameters and guidance
- Releasing people in their giftings
Ministry is not easy, but God has good plans for his church. We plant the seeds in faith and pray for the harvest in His time. As I engage with emerging Anglican lay leaders, my prayer is:
“God, what are you up to in our midst? What do you require of us?
Breathe your new life & ministries into us.”