Mega-ministry in Darwin
A Sydney church is gearing up to embark on its eighth youth mission up to the Northern Territory, in partnership with local churches.
Church By The Bridge in Kirribilli has been running Mega Surge in Darwin since 2009. The first three years were run in partnership with the organisation Youthsurge, but since then CBTB has taken on the entire initiative, which aims to bring together youth from churches and denominations territory-wide for a weekend of fellowship and Bible teaching.
Mega Surge began at the suggestion of the Rev Bruce Chapman, a Bush Church Aid worker serving part-time with St Peter’s, Nightcliff, and part-time as the diocesan youth minister for the Northern Territory.
“Our church took on Bruce and Jodi as mission partners several years ago, and beyond financial support and through prayer we wanted to explore helping out in other ways as well,” says CBTB’s children’s pastor Naomi de Vries.
“Bruce suggested he’d like to see an inter-church mini conference - a way to bring youth together. Really it’s been about supporting the work that Bruce is doing and helping support youth in churches up there, where it’s often hard to get an event like this together.”
Mega Surge is centred around a residential weekend, with a big Friday night event followed by days of Bible teaching, reflection and activities. A key part of Mega Surge has been creating consistency and long-term relationships with the youth that attend as well as their churches.
“A big focus of ours is also to encourage kids to be in their local churches and to be cross-denominational, so we encourage local church leaders to come with their kids and to actually be a resource for their kids when they come to Mega Surge. We really see ourselves as just being a support for existing ministries.”
“Up north there’s a lot of transience, a lot of fly-in, fly-out workers, but to have people committed to long-haul ministry makes a difference,” Mrs de Vries says. “We and another couple have stayed with the same church families every year, for instance. They’ve basically adopted us. They really show us a lot of love and it’s a real privilege. In some ways I think we get more out of it than we’re able to give - the young people are so encouraging in their hunger for the word. A couple of kids have even come and visited our church when they’ve come to Sydney for holidays and things like that. It’s become a real two-way relationship.”
The event averages around 80 or so youth for the Friday night, with 40 staying for the whole weekend. The rector of CBTB, the Rev Paul Dale, will be this year’s key speaker, and kids will have the opportunity to discuss God’s word among themselves, while also having time on the Saturday to relax and hang out together.
This year, the CBTB team is also planning to try and visit as many of the youth’s local churches on the Sunday as they can to continue to grow the partnership.
“It’s a good-sized youth event for Darwin, but it’s not big and complex like what you can see in Sydney,” Mrs de Vries says. “The real value is that these kids from all over can connect with each other and be encouraged by each other.