Macquarie Chapel Presbyterian Church, under the leadership of Senior Minister, Dave Woolcott, and Youth & Young Adults Pastor, Chi Un, are committed to discipling the next generation of Christian men and women. This is clearly seen in their children’s and youth ministries, specifically the Program for Apprentice Leaders (PAL).
As part of his role, Chi helps Macquarie Chapel run a Program for Apprentice Leaders (PAL), focused on shepherding high schoolers into church. Dave said the ministry team saw a need among the youth within the church that also stood to serve as an opportunity.
Chi reflects, “I’ve always loved sharing the Word of God with others, particularly to those in high school and university where they are stretched mentally, and are also learning about their identity in the world”.
The what and why of PAL
- Kids in Year 7-10 have a fortnightly bible study during the sermon.
- On the alternate week, they have an option of sitting in church and listening to the sermon and/or being rostered on to a ministry roster.
- Some choose to help with the little kids program (Mackids and Small Fry), others play music in the worship band, and others with things such as helping with sound and livestream production.
- In a nutshell, it is a bridge between simply being consumers and transitioning to being active members of the church who participate and serve.
Dave shares, “In a church thinking of doing this, they would need to consider a fortnightly bible study so the kids are being fed. They would also need to think through where they can let younger members contribute in a useful and meaningful way on the week the Bible study is not happening. Also, for those who wish to sit and listen to the sermon, we have tried to offer support in how to listen to a sermon, take notes, and engage critically. So, it is good to think through developing these resources and support too.”
Chi shared, “We started PAL giving opportunities to the next generation to have hands-on experience in leading future generations in church ministries alongside other leaders. Our apprentice leaders are taught and modelled to be disciples of Jesus, who are encouraged in turn to model these qualities to others around them. In other words, we’re discipling the disciple makers of the next generation!”
“Each individual participant is placed in a ministry that suits their gifts and abilities as they faithfully participate in the life of the church. Our feedback so far has been highly positive. We look forward to bringing more of our youth into the program and into many other parts of the church,” Chi continued.
Dave shared, “We wanted to engage, equip and give responsibility to young people and help them understand that the life of a Jesus follower is one of being a disciple as well as making disciples. PAL gives our high school people an opportunity to serve in a structured and supportive environment as they transition from being in programs to being part of running programs.”
Supporting and collaborating with PAL
Since beginning the program, Dave has noticed that the students are loving the opportunities they’ve been given. He said they’re also appreciating being equipped and supported as they take on these new responsibilities and opportunities.
Chi noted that the parents have also been very supportive of this ministry, and the work that is being done to train and equip the youth.
“What I’ve noticed is that there is a flow-on effect in their peer groups. There is a developing culture of Christlike love for others as our apprentice leaders naturally interact with others outside of ministry times,” she said.
PAL to L4L
One of Dave’s main goals for PAL as it continues over the next few years, is that they’ll be able to send a cohort of young people to the Lead for Life (L4L) Internship, run by PY.
The L4L internship is designed for young people to be trained and built up as leaders within their Christian communities. The program has three components: one week of residential training during a PY Summer Camp, 12 months of ministry and mentoring within your own church and learning to use the leadership skills developed by leading a small group on PY Summer Camp.
“Often young people do leave church as they finish school. Sadly, too many leave church altogether. We hope that whether they stay at our church, or move to another, that serving in church will be a part of who they are and that they will be a blessing in the future to either MacChap or another church,” Dave said.
Dave Woolcott’s role in discipling young people in Sydney North
“As a Presbyterian Minister I had an idea that PY existed but no real connection with PY until my kids started attending PY camps and I was invited to be on the PY Committee. Around this time I also became involved as a group leader with the Lead for Life Internship.”
In the last 18 months, Dave has also become the PY Rep for the Sydney North region. The role of a PY Rep involves…
- Reporting back to General Manager of PYNSW on which churches in a Presbytery have
- Youth groups
- Sunday School, Crèche, and other children’s ministry
- SRE teaching
- Other family ministries
- Communicate with churches in the Presbytery about PY (and other) initiatives that are relevant to the Presbytery
- Meet (on Zoom) twice per year with other PY Reps for fellowship, encouragement, and to communicate the needs of the Presbytery
“I think we are still trying to work out how to best go about it, but promoting the work of PY, finding the needs across the Presbytery, networking and linking PY with people and churches so that the churches are better equipped to disciple youth for Christ,” Dave said.
Ministry to young people across Sydney North
Dave reflects that one of the key strengths of ministry in Sydney North is getting churches together to have combined youth events.
“In the past Ryde and Beecroft have done this and in more recent times Macquarie Chapel and Epping have. It is a real encouragement for young people to see that there is more going on than what is happening just in their local church, and combined events can have an excitement about them that is hard to achieve in a smaller group,” Dave said.
“Another key strength of ministry to young people in Sydney North is the abundance of faithful bible-teaching ministries and an openness to sharing and collaborative efforts. I’d like to think that we’re keeping our eyes on the goal of modelling Jesus to the next generation, and we see each other as co-workers and co-heirs of the precious gift of salvation given to us,” Chi said.
Chi concluded, “Please pray for the youth in our area that they learn to love Jesus more and more and grow together as peers into maturity in Christ.”