Tag Archives: Ministry

Child Safe Ministry: Why? Who? What?

Welcome to St Augustine’s! It’s a joy to be able to meet together: long termers, visitors, as well as recent new members.

Child Safe Ministry: Why? Who? What? You may have noticed that recently we’ve mentioned courses, checks and processes. It can get us more than a little frustrated, bewildered and even offended by being required to fulfil certain expectations and face scrutiny.

Firstly, why does our church require us to have Child Safe Ministry? In a word: love. We believe that children (both younger and older) must be safe in our church. We love our kids… it’s that simple.

You don’t have to look far in the media to uncover the abuse history in Australian churches. Our Diocese has spent years responding in a way that befits the church of Christ. It has been a very costly process, led by former Archbishop Jeffrey Driver, who met face to face with numerous survivors, listening to them and crying with them.

The Diocese has placed certain requirements on all Adelaide Anglican churches to ensure that history never repeats. But I urge you not to consider this an authoritarian over-reaction. We need to embrace this, simply because we love the vulnerable. It is the very character of God to lift up the lowly; Jesus was adamant that children be welcomed AND protected.

Secondly, who needs to go through the processes? Anyone who is ever likely to be in any space on our site with anyone under 18. This doesn’t include being in large crowds (eg church) with kids. But if you’re involved in the kids program from time to time, if you take groups on tours that include under 18s, if you are in any kind of leadership in the church, then the Child Safe Ministry processes are for you. Additionally, any person in the church may attend the courses free of charge.

Those required to do child safe checks for other organisations (eg a schools, nannying, etc) simply need to provide evidence. Eg, if you’ve been on a mandatory reporting (Child Safe Environments) course before, please send us a copy of your certificate. Same with any police check you may have done within the last 3 years.

Thirdly, what is involved? There are 2 tiers of people: check the website for more details (adelaideanglicans.com/saferministry). At the lower tier, you need to familiarise yourself with the “Faithfulness in Service” document, which outlines Diocesan policies in this area, submit a police check, and attend the Ensuring Safer Church Communities (ESCC) course.

At the higher tier, in addition to these, you need to fill out a questionnaire (which includes a local and national screening process), plus attend an extra course: Child Safe Environments (CSE).

All of this process needs to be renewed every 3 years, and there are shorter versions of the courses available for those renewing. We are now keeping records of compliance and dates, to ensure we’re fulfilling our obligations.

Folks, I know in some ways this isn’t pleasant. And there is inconvenience. But remember we do it because we love our children.

Our ministry: what is it?

Last week was our Annual Vestry Meeting (AVM), effectively a business meeting. We received reports, took minutes, and elected office-bearers. These formal processes are important, as we manage the ministry of our church.

But it is good to remind ourselves occasionally that they are not themselves the ministry of our church. They are supporting structures of much more important things that we do as a group of God’s people meeting regularly.

So what exactly IS our ministry? It is the services we run? Well yes it is, but it’s not only that. Interestingly, the word for “ministry” in the New Testament original language (Greek) is the same as the word for “service”. But here it doesn’t mean church services: rather, serving one another. To minister is to consider the needs of those around us and to contribute to those needs.

Sometimes this is bearing others’ burdens. Sometimes it is practical assistance. Sometimes it is the timely word to strengthen each other.

But at the heart of our serving one another must be the good news of Jesus. The message of God’s love expressed in the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus is at the centre of our church life. It motivates us to deny ourselves and take up our own cross; it teach us what it is to make sacrifices; and it draws us to know the very source of love itself: to God. God out-loves us all. None of us can love in the manner and extent that he does. And yet he wants us to walk in his ways nevertheless.

So let’s seek to serve. Whether you’re up the front reading the Bible; whether you’re providing morning tea; whether you’re looking after the needs of others…. Serve, knowing it’s what church is all about.

Having said this, I am so grateful for a great AVM and for the wonderful people who have made themselves available to serve us as office bearers!

Cheers, Mark

Sermons are not enough

Good morning and welcome to St Augustine’s church. We are a community of people convinced of the love that God has expressed to us and seeking to share that love with those around us. Whether you’re newish or visiting us, or whether you’ve been part of this group for many years, we hope you feel that you can belong here, develop friendships and connections, strike up conversations, and even ask for help if you need it.

Last Sunday we had a real reminder of our Christian unity through the brunch we shared after the service. It was a very encouraging time, with lots of laughing, conversation, and of course food. We found ourselves looking around and being comforted that we are looking at better times. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for us as a community of faith. We trust he will grow us, not only in numbers, but also in spiritual maturity, as we seek his Spirit’s work in us and through us.

As you have probably worked out by now, I am a strong believer that the word of God, the Bible, is central to our lives as Christians. It is God’s own expression of himself to us, and so really is “a lamp for our feet” as Psalm 119:105 says.

The word of God is not our goal, but it is our way to our goal. And that goal of course is life lived in the strength and wisdom of God, and then ultimately life lived in the eternal presence of God. Studying the word of God therefore should be something to which we apply ourselves.

And yet sermons are not enough. Sermons encourage us, teach us, challenge us, and sometimes even rebuke us. And yet we regularly have questions of the text that we are not able to answer and the preacher is not able to anticipate.

And so for this reason, I’d like warmly to invite you all to participate in our Lenten Bible studies. For those unfamiliar with church language, that just means that it will be a series of studies occurring during the season of Lent, which is the 6 weeks leading up to Easter. In these studies, we’ll follow the journey of Christ to the cross and ask what implications this has for our lives as his followers.

I’d love it if you would all join in. There will be 2 options (10am and 7:30pm – meet in the church). Please sign up for a group on the list at the back of the church, even if you will not be able to make every session.

I look forward to growing together in our fellowship in Jesus.

Cheers, Mark