At City on a Hill we believe in doing church in three main ways:
In Sunday fellowship: Every Sunday we meet as a community united. We gather together to read God’s Word, worship in song and connect with each other in community and fellowship.
In connect groups: We join together across the city into small Bible study groups where we look deeper at what was preached on the Sunday
In the world: Everyday we are the scattered church across Melbourne. We’re in the world to be a light to the world in our every day jobs, life, and love. This is our missions field and where we spend most of our time.
Youth Connect Groups
I want to focus on our connect groups and look at it from a youth point of view. My job at City on a Hill is youth coordinator. Basically if you’re between the ages of 10-18 I will be the guy to look after you. As we’re pioneering a youth ministry from the start, my leadership team and I have looked to disciple the youth we have currently attending with their parents. This isn’t a spectacular number given the size of our church. We started with around five young people in the 10-14 bracket and one in the 15-18 bracket.
Reasons for Starting the Group
We wanted to disciple these young people. They were all Christians but they didn’t have anything in place to deepen their faith. Some weren’t getting much out of church; others were getting great teaching from church. We realized it’s good for Christians to be around Christians their own age as they’re going through the same stage in life.
However they may not be in the same place spiritually. This is a huge aspect to consider when working with young people. Grouping by age is great for community but can be a frustration to the more mature Christians in the group. For example, if you’re 14 and you’re with a 10-year-old who’s laughing when someone farts you can feel too old for the group. It stuck me that all youth are unique and need to be valued as such. Ten-14 is too broad of an age gap for young people.
So How Do We Set Up Groups?
Once you’re an adult the best way to set up groups is by location. It’s handier for people to meet near were they live. With godly and mature leaders, adults don’t necessarily need to be around people who are the same age.
At youth Connect Groups we do still do it by age! I noticed that the more mature ones lead the group and keep everyone on track. Since we launched our first youth connect group for 10-14 we have had great growth. By the end of March we want to launch our first 14-17 and launch two 10-13 groups.
Things to consider with Youth Connect Groups.
• Focus on God’s Word. This is not the place to have wacky games, but God’s word.
• Have food. When you have a meal it shows you are a community. It is good to unite with young people over food.
• Consider all people in your connect group. Different levels of maturity, learning, and understanding. Make sure you have something all can take away and have something to challenge the more mature.
• Be as specific with age as you can. Ideally we would love 10-12, 13-14 and 15-17 as our three connect groups. We do not have enough youth yet to do so.
• Be considerate of the parents. We have parents driving 30-45 minutes to get to the connect group. Ideally I would love to have these groups in every suburb of Melbourne for all ages—age-based groups that are in every suburb.
• Keep groups small. No more than 7 or 8. If you have more, it can turn into a youth group and not a valued Bible study were all can contribute
• Have it in your house. This allows the youth to see more about you. It’s extending the bond you have with them
• Be a prayerful group. Incorporate a focus of prayer into the groups. Young people are not usually that comfortable with praying out loud and many don’t know how to pray. Encourage prayer to be throughout the group and encourage your church to pray for the group
• Love them. We do this because we love young people. Serve out of love and not from any other motive.
• Apply everything. Be practical with them and how this will affect their day-to-day living
• Disciple. We want to grow the youth more like Christ. We want to see them love Christ and reflect him in every aspect of life
Chris Colgan is from Northern Ireland and is working as the Youth Co-Ordinator for City on a Hill. City on a Hill (www.cityonahill.com.au) is a church based in Melbourne, Australia who want to Know Jesus and Make Jesus Known.