For over 40 years there has not been a youth group at Temora Presbyterian Church. The small country town of Temora often struggles to attract young families in the area, due to the nature of many transitioning to high school, university, and work in city areas. This makes retaining a group of teenagers for a youth group quite difficult!
However, over the last little while, Temora Presbyterian has had a few young families with teenagers join! Derek Yu shares his reflections on this process of starting up a youth group, and how to make sure that parents are on board and involved.
Derek’s early Christian years
Derek grew up in a Christian family, going to church weekly, and hearing all about God’s love. It was not until high school and attending youth group where Derek began to ask big questions. “I couldn’t comprehend why God would love me so much, especially as I struggled with sin and constantly wrestled with repentance and falling back into the same sins over and over again.”
Through mentoring from a youth leader at his church, reading God’s Word together, Derek understood grace for the first time. “It wasn’t ever about my performance. God in His grace and love sent Jesus to die for me, even when I was unworthy.”
Derek has been the Pastor at Temora Presbyterian Church for the last six years.
Starting Up Youth Group @ Temora Again
Through 2022 thus far, Temora Presbyterian has seen a steady inflow of young families joining their church. This new development led to a need to, after over 40 years, kickstart a youth ministry again. This exciting opportunity led to many big conversations with church members, youth parents, and the youth themselves, to work out how to best set their youth group up.
Derek shares, “At the moment what youth looks like is running on Saturday nights, fortnightly, between Temora and Ariah Park (approx. 30 min drive apart). We run from 5:30-8pm. We have Games and Bible study from 5:30-7pm, then we share Dinner together from 7-8pm.”
“The reason for this is that we have some families who live closer to Ariah Park, so we want to make youth as convenient and accessible for as many people as possible.”
“The youth leaders are myself, Noah, who came to our church last year as part of his PIM Gap Year and stayed on for a bit longer, but he has just left for Queensland now, and another lady who recently moved to Temora who joins us when she can, but she works shift work as a nurse.”
Partnership with Parents
To ensure that the youth ministry at Temora Presbyterian would be a sustainable and viable ministry for both now and many years to come, Derek made sure that parents were involved in the startup process of the youth group. “Before we started our youth group, we talked to parents to make sure we figured out what would suit them and their children.”
Derek continues, “Partnership with parents is crucial because without parents supporting the youth group, you can’t have a youth group. If the parents don’t allow their youth to attend youth group, then we won’t have a youth group! We need them on board.”
Restarting a ministry is hard work. Building a team to lead and run the ministry is hard work. With the currently small youth leadership team, parental involvement is really important. “There will be times when I [Derek] have to ask a parent to sit in the Bible study with us; we always want to make sure we have two adults in the room who have done their Working With Children Check… It also means they [youth parents] know what the youth are learning.”
In a couple of weeks, the youth group from Temora will be heading to KYCK! “It is really exciting because that’s never been done before. We asked the parents if they would be interested in allowing their children to go, and they were all on board! The parents will also be helping us with transport to, around, and home from KYCK.” Approximately a 4.5 hour drive!
Looking ahead to the rest of this year Derek shares, “I’m hoping to organise a ‘Meet The Leader’ afternoon: a place for parents to ask questions, for the leaders to explain what’s happening at youth group, to share our goal and desire for the youth to love Jesus, how parents can be supporting youth group, and how we can be supporting parents in discipling their children. We’ll also be having Year 6’s join us in Term 4, so this ‘Meet The Leader’ event will be an opportunity for the Year 6 parents to learn more about youth group too.”
Please join us in praising God, and praying for the returned youth ministry at Temora Presbyterian Church.
- Praise God for the commitment of many parents in our church in partnering with us as a youth group.
- Pray that the youth will grow in their love for Jesus and that we’re able to support them.
- Pray that the youth take ownership of their faith.
- Pray that the youth would be well integrated into our wider church community.
- Pray for the youth and parents as they head to KYCK #4 (23-25 September, 2022).