March 25, 2018 | News

Senior Minister’s AGM report 2018

2017 has been, under God’s good hand, a very encouraging year at Rouse Hill Anglican Church. This time 12 months ago we were preparing and planning in anticipation of a Moore College Mission week. It proved to be a wonderful week of meeting the neighbourhood and inviting guests to hear the good news of Jesus at a range of events. Indeed, I believe the week set the tone for the rest of the year. Throughout 2017 we saw a significant increase in people inviting their friends and family to our men’s and women’s events, our outreach events and regular Sunday church services. Our percentage of guests at all of our Outreach activities has continued to climb, seen most recently in the number of guests at our Men’s dinner and Pop Up 5pm church in February 2018 (resulting in our biggest ever 5pm church with a high proportion of youth and young adults inviting friends!)

In conjunction with our desire to invite new people, in 2017 Chris Burgess twice facilitated a “Welcomers course” for members of each of our congregations, to grow and sharpen our members in their heart for and skill in welcoming newcomers. This has led to much increased follow up by the congregation of new people, which is an excellent trend, and particularly at the 10am congregation has led to the development of a good sized team who have taken responsibility for our NEWish activities, which seek to welcome new people and help them to settle. I have been greatly encouraged and excited to see these members of our church take on such a vital ministry, and I believe the success of it is being seen in our attendance figures. Both our congregations have experienced their highest ever average weekly attendances in the fourth quarter 2017 & first quarter 2018. Newcomers are staying and becoming vitally connected members of our congregations!

Throughout 2017 we ran Christianity Explored 3 times, and across the year 4 people professed a new faith in Christ, and a number of others expressed a return to or reinvigoration of their previous faith. Praise God for this!

These courses were led by Tim Rowe. We have benefitted greatly from Tim & Sarah’s ministry over the past two years, and whilst we were sad to have them leave us upon graduating from Moore College, we have been delighted to take them on as link missionaries in their work with Campus Bible Study at the University of NSW.

In 2017 we were also served by Brian Rennie as a student minister. Brian’s key ministry area was working with our Young Adults. Sadly Brian’s health has necessitated him stepping aside from official student minister responsibilities. However it is a mark of the strength of relationships he has built and the love the congregation has for him that Brian remains an active member of our 5pm congregation.

2018 has begun with two new staff appointments. Rick Mason has joined our team to be our “Outreach Coach”. This is the role that we prayed about and asked the congregation to contribute financially towards so as to make possible. Rick is already busily planning our upcoming outreach activities and beginning to meet up with people. He will begin leading Christianity explored in term 2 and we look forward to the contribution that Rick and Rhonda will make to the life of our church, especially in growing our heart and skill for outreach.

In 2018 we have also welcomed Ellen Algeo to the staff team as a “pre-student student minister” (that is, Ellen will begin Bible College Study in 2019). Ellen is focusing on Young Adult Women, Young Adult Ministry and 5pm Church, and has recently co-organised and run a very successful Young Adults Weekend Away (YAWA). Young adults is an area of ministry we have been consciously attempting to grow in recent years, with previous Student Ministers Michael Burgess and Brian Rennie putting their focus in this area. We have seen the Young Adults grow from 1 to 3 Growth Groups in 3 years. Please pray that this demographic in our church may increase in number and in their love for Jesus and that they may grow in their commitment to following Him.

Another wonderful change that we saw beginning in 2017 was significant growth in the regular attendance at our Sunday morning Kids Ministry. Early in 2017 we had noticed a disturbing trend that there were fewer children attending our Kids Church ministries than in the previous years. However this trend reversed in the second half of 2017, and as at the beginning of 2018 we have started with our best ever numbers in K-2 & 3-5 Kids Church. This excellent trend also highlights for us some of the challenges that face us, if we are to keep growing to reach more families:

Space. Our Kids Ministry Spaces are feeling full (perhaps over-full in the case of K-2).

Personnel. If we are to start a 3rd congregation we will need to duplicate our Kids Ministry programs. This will mean we need twice as many leaders and helpers from among the congregations, trained up for our Kids Ministry. This will be a challenge, but one very much worth working on, because our 10am congregation is close to capacity at present and we do not want this is be a blockage to our growth and our ability to properly welcome and integrate newcomers.

As well as Kids Ministry leaders, in order to start a third congregation we will also need to recruit, encourage and train up a larger number of musicians, singers and sound desk operators. We have been researching what it takes to duplicate church services and the learnings experienced by other churches in Sydney is that music ministry and kids ministry are the two pressure points which need to be resourced and grown before successful duplication can occur. Perhaps you or someone you know in the congregation can be the answer to our prayers about the personnel development we need to keep growing!

A further challenge we need to take up in 2018 is financial. We thank God for the increased generosity of our congregation in 2017; though we didn’t quite meet budget, our giving certainly increased. At the end of 2017 the external grant which funded Glen Elsegood’s one day per week in the local High School came to an end. This means in 2018 we need to meet the full costs of providing Scripture in our local High School. Again this will be a challenge for us, but another one worth taking up, as we seek to reach out with the news of Jesus’s love to the young people of our suburb.

No matter which way you drive from our church site the opportunity and challenge we have before us at present is clear – whether it is the new multi-story apartments from Rouse Rd to Windsor Rd, or the new free-standing homes in Kellyville North, Box Hill & Annangrove Rd – we are surrounded by new development, which means new neighbours who either don’t know Jesus, or who need to find a church community where they can take their part in reaching out to the lost. It is both an exciting and stretching time to be Rouse Hill Anglican church, and there will be a degree of discomfort which comes with growth. Praise God when we feel those “growing pains”; it is a reminder that in His kindness he is allowing us to experience the joy of seeing his church and his kingdom grow! Please pray that our whole church family will unite in taking up these opportunities that are before us in 2018 and beyond.

I would like to take this chance to thank our outstanding wardens (Ken, Corey & Dave), our excellent Parish Council (Andrew, Elissa, Justin, Yvonne, Jono, Marcus) and our devoted and faithful ministry staff team (Nat, Glen, Carla, Tim, Brian, Rick & Ellen) for all they have done in serving us in 2017/2018 – we are greatly blessed by God through their ministries. I would equally like to thank the very, very many members of our congregations who serve in leadership, discipleship, behind the scenes, in upfront ministries, in caring for our members, in caring for our site and resources – I am very aware of how God has been growing our church as a team, or perhaps more Biblically, as a united body, with different members using their different gifts so that the whole is built up and growing in spiritual health. It has been a joy to serve alongside you in 2017 and I look forward to the ways that God will continue to grow us and use our efforts in 2018 & beyond.

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