Ethan Mills grew up in a small church with no youth group. The church was biblically sound, but numbers in his age group were slim, with the only other two being Ethan’s twin brother and a little girl.
Ethan shares, “There was an absence of a youth group for a very long time, from 2005 all the way till I started one up a few years ago.”
Unlike many who first encounter PYNSW as a teenager, Ethan didn’t get introduced to PY until he was 22. Despite being at the older end of the age bracket, his minister, Damien Choi, encouraged Ethan to go along to Winter Camp in 2016.
“I really had no idea what to expect,” Ethan remembers. “I mean, I showed up there still in my workwear!… But I found it very enjoyable, a good mix of fun, games, and strong teaching as well, very mature teaching.”
After that camp, Ethan was hooked – but at his age, he wasn’t going to be able to keep attending camps for long.
Thankfully, there was another option. With the support of his minister, Ethan joined the PYNSW ‘Lead for Life’ Internship.
That was another life-changing week for Ethan. He was enthralled by the teaching he heard on the body of Christ and loved growing in his understanding of the Bible alongside other passionate young leaders.
And when he headed back to church that following year, full of new passion and skills, that’s when he and his minister started a new youth group at their church.
Through programs like camps, the internship and so much more, PYNSW brings together people from Presbyterian churches across NSW, partnering with youth leaders like Ethan to help them disciple their young people.
Ethan is clear on his motivation for running youth group at his church, St Marys:
“You can’t have churches grow unless you keep bringing in the next generations, otherwise, I’ve seen it before, churches will die out.”
This is why youth ministry is so important – and why training leaders is so crucial.
Ethan now loves coming along to the PY Encourage Express training nights, held regularly each year to enable youth leaders at Presbyterian churches to come together for training, prayer and networking.
“PY Encourage Express are very, as their name implies, very encouraging,” Ethan says. “The most recent one had a big focus on helping youth dealing with mental illness, this was straight after the lockdown ended. And clearly it had taken its toll on the youth, and their parents – not being able to go to church, school, or see peers, which is in my mind, very, very devastating, especially at that age… The events are full of ideas, different teaching methods, different techniques of how to manage the relevant issue, as well as run youth group.”
Training, networking, encouraging, for the sake of young people. That’s what PYNSW brings to the church and its people. This Christmas, please prayerfully consider financially supporting the ongoing work of PY in raising up the next generation of young people to be biblically equipped for sharing the good news of Jesus.