Mike Hall is passionate about cultivating and growing youth. He is dedicated to his role at Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Hobart. Two days a week, Mike is the Next Gen Ministry Director at Crossroads, with a focus on ages 0-21. In this role, Mike oversees and leads three teams including the kid’s ministry, youth, and young adult’s ministry teams.
When Crossroads was planted as a church 20 years ago, the congregation was mostly made up of young adults which meant there wasn’t initially a real need for a youth ministry. However, it was not long after the church began that young adults in the church began to get married and started to have kids of their own. The need for kids and youth ministry became great.
The introduction of a youth ministry
Around seven years ago, youth ministry at Crossroads began for kids from Year 4 and up. The oldest kids they had when it started were in Year 6.
“The ministry team and our minister had done a great job at getting the monthly youth group going and as a church, a real focus came about in asking the question of how over the next 10, 15 years, are we really going to close those life stage gaps that we have in church? And part of that was to make sure that we serve those people who we have right now really well”, Mike shared.
Four years ago, the youth ministry expanded and became a weekly event, a more traditional youth group style. Mike grew up in the Sydney Anglican church where he became a Christian and his experience of youth groups was that they were mostly run on a weekly basis.
“The idea of weekly youth ministry is just part of the blood. I had a lot of conversations with parents early on who were asking, ‘Are you sure my kids will want to go?’, but it’s been really exciting to see people who were slightly sceptical of the idea, to be won over pretty quickly and see kids really embrace it”, Mike said.
Mike said it’s been very exciting to see kids from the community come and join in the youth group and hear the Gospel preached.
Building a team and a youth group
Mike shared that to start the youth ministry, they first had to build a team. He noted that Crossroads didn’t have anyone aged in their early 20’s at the time which is what a ‘traditional’ youth group team is built of. “It was really important not to think that youth ministry had to happen in a certain way”, he said.
“We needed to look at building a team of people who have a heart for discipling young people.”
To begin with, the youth group was struggling to find somewhere they could meet, every option they explored was too expensive. They opted to have their first youth group meeting in Mike’s backyard.
“We looked at the Bible together, we watched a movie, we hung out… We had about four kids there on the first night. So, it was to get it going and not to think it had to be a particular thing… Discipleship is at the heart of youth ministry and having a place where kids can come hear the Gospel, have fun, and build relationships is important. We want people who are serious about leading kids in those things, not looking for a particular type of person to do it”, he shared.
The youth group grew from 4 kids to 40 quickly and Mike acknowledges that this is a result of God’s work.
“I look at the journey we’ve been on and there weren’t really specialised, fancy things that we did. But I think under God it was a result of working hard on building discipling relationships with the kids so that the leaders weren’t simply there just to administer youth ministry, but to be involved in the lives of the kids to bring the gospel to bear in their lives”, he said.
The importance of caring for youth
Mike shares that he is passionate about youth ministry for many reasons, including the idea that, “The youth in your church are both the church of today and the leaders of tomorrow.”
He shared that roughly 80% of Christians became Christians before the age of 18 years old.
“Youth ministry is such a great opportunity for evangelism, both in helping Christian kids from Christian families think hard about their faith and owning it for themselves, but also as a great platform for sharing the Gospel”, he shares.
Youth Training & Discipleship Committee
Recently, Mike was invited by Dave Phillips (PY General Manager) to attend the General Assembly of Australia (i.e. National) Training & Discipleship Committee. The Committee is for Presbyterians involved in youth ministry for the following purposes: mutual encouragement, the sharing of ideas and resources, ministries to assist one another, administering a youth leadership scholarship scheme and bringing the financial needs of state-based ministries to the General Assembly.
It brings together members of the Presbyterian church from across Australia to meet and discuss youth ministry.
Mike says that he’s passionate about seeing not just opportunities to gather youth from across Tasmania together but get youth ministries happening in churches across Australia.
Mike reflects, “We do it all because we are compelled by what we understand is going on in the world, what God is doing within the world, and what God has done for us in the world, through Jesus”.