Thinking outside the box in mission and ministry
Thinking outside the box in mission and ministry
They have a saying at Box Hill Corps: “We’re not the future of the church, we’re the church now!” Key to that vision is prioritising the growth of children’s, youth and young adults, and multicultural ministries.
“There’s a real kingdom focus here,” says Philip Messenger, Youth and Young Adults Pastor at the corps. “We invest heavily in leadership and want people who are passionate and are willing to invest properly with our youth.
“We have a real strong focus on me, us and others. The ‘me’ is me and my relationship with God, ‘us’ is us as a community, how we support each other in our journey, and then ‘others’ is what are we doing to reach out to those who are unsaved?”
Box Hill, situated in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, is a thriving corps community, making the most of outreach connections through English conversation classes, Mainly Music, and a craft group and Companion Club, alongside their flourishing children’s ministry (FunHub) and youth ministry FaWM (Fearfully and Wonderfully Made - pictured below).
“I want to have been a part of a generation of Salvationists so on fire for God that the fire is unstoppable, that it burns through my children and the children of these amazing young people,” says Lauren Wynne, a Year 12 student who wants to become a youth pastor.
“My hope and dreams would be to raise a generation of faith-filled kids who have eyes firmly fixed on heaven and their desire to see their peers brought into the Kingdom of God. God works on a long-term scheme, so why shouldn’t we?”
Box Hill will literally be stepping into a brave new future, as the corps set its sights on relocating to a more prominent location by 2020.
“The building we are currently in has served us really well for about 35 years, but we are taking the opportunity to design and build a new purpose-built facility that functionally caters for current and future ways in which mission and ministry are done,” Corps Officer Captain Kevin Lumb explains.
“It will be a larger facility with greater car parking than what we currently have on our site. It’s preparing the way for the future.”
With a staff of 13 supplemented by many volunteers including those that help at the popular Café Salvo, the leadership team at Box Hill includes Captains Kevin and Jude Lumb (Corps Officers - pictured right), Captain Karin Lennermo-Beasy (Associate Corps Officer), Jude Wynne (Children and Families Pastor), Philip Messenger (Youth and Young Adults Pastor) and Sunny Choi (Intercultural Pastor).
As the corps dreams about the future of the Army, its vision is clear: it will be built on the faith and ingenuity of a generation of Salvos who love God and love people.
There are three Sunday services at the corps, all of which cater to different demographics.
“Our 9.30am meeting is contemporary worship – more family-oriented," Philip says. Our 11am service is more traditional and this is our biggest congregation, and we include our Salvo band and songsters in the service. Our night service, which we call ‘Thrive @ 5’ is contemporary and open to everyone, that’s where the majority of our youth and young adults go.”
One of the reasons Box Hill Corps appeals to people in the community is the family friendly atmosphere it offers. The church has family lines that can be traced back decades, and this means no matter what your age, you always have a place there on Sunday.
The church has also become an open door to new families, youth, young adults and the multicultural community surrounding Box Hill and the nearby city of Whitehorse.
In the future, the corps hopes to employ an additional intercultural worker as it continues to reflect more closely the demographic mix seen in the diverse community of Box Hill.
“That’s an important growth area for us, and we’re seeing really good things happen in that area from meals that are connecting well with Korean and Chinese people, which we have every Sunday after the second service,” says Kevin.
“We’re learning how to make an impact and make a difference in that intercultural space. We’re able to cover Cantonese, and Korean speaking people well, but we need to be able to cover Mandarin speaking better and to have that expertise right on hand throughout the week.”
Like all the ministries in the corps, the goal is to create pathways to faith in Christ.
“Our intention is to be more representative over time, and that way we can have a greater impact into the broader community that is around us," says Kevin. "We need to learn how to make those connections more effective and engage with the broader community in ways that help people come on a faith pathway that may come into a relationship with Jesus.”
Throughout the week, Box Hill is packed with programs and rehearsals, including English conversation classes and Mainly Music to a craft group and Companion Club, in addition to the youth and young adults programs.
On a recent weekend, in recognition of the Whole World Mobilising initiative, Box Hill threw itself into (world leader of The Salvation Army) General André Cox's quest to build leadership in a rising generation of Salvos, and handed over the Sunday services to the children and young adults.
The FaWM band led worship, and children, youth and young adults shared a message about their hopes and dreams for the Army. Many mentioned their desire for a safe, inclusive church, which welcomes people of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, cultures and orientations.
Kevin says social enterprise is one way they hope to work with the community to become this safe space. This is already happening through volunteers from the disability sector being part of the team at Café Salvo. In the future, the corps hopes to expand this through building formal partnerships with local disability agencies.
“I actually believe that a very powerful way forward in mission and ministry for The Salvation Army is to engage more intentionally in this area, and come to understand the benefits that can exist in partnering with others in social enterprise,” Kevin says.
“Of course our intent in that is to bring people into that loving, right relationship with Jesus. It just increases our opportunities and profile to do that.”