After finishing school, all I wanted to do was outdoor recreation work at a campsite. I had volunteered at school holiday camps and had loved it. I loved working with great people to give the campers a great experience, but also sharing the gospel. Often 40 or 50 volunteers would come together to make these camps happen. They were so much fun and I made so many friends. I decided that I wanted to do this ministry for the rest of my life. It wasn’t long before I got myself a job doing exactly that.
When the holiday camps were finished, the volunteers went home and the camp site was run by a much small group of employees. These were great people but had there own families and friends to invest in. So there I was, stuck in the middle of nowhere (I’ve since learnt Cobbitty was not the middle of nowhere) with no car and no licence and no one around. I felt isolated and alone. I didn’t have much contact with my family and my friends all lived an hour away. I began to wonder if anyone really cared about me, and if anyone really knew me.
BUT. Church changed everything.
Some of the volunteers at my work were also youth leaders at a local church. They invited me to come and help run the youth group. It wasn’t long before I was involved in the youth group on Friday nights, attending church on Sunday nights and part of a small group during the week. People would give me lifts to make sure I could get places, and there was one guy in particular who made sure I always had a lift anytime I needed it. Before I knew it, I was no longer lonely. I had made lots of friends. Many of them are still close friends now, almost 20 years down the track.
When I got involved in church I found people who accepted me, encouraged me and supported me. They opened their homes and their lives to me, and invited me in.
At the heart of The Church Project is a desire for community. A place you feel at home.
We live in Camden, the 2nd fastest growing area in Australia. Over the next 20 years more than 150 000 people will move into the area. Everywhere you look there are houses being built, new streets, new shopping centres, new towns. There will be people moving away from family and friends for a new start, but a new start is often lonely. When I was lonely I found acceptance and community in the church.
The Bible gives a glimpse into what the church looked like when it first started. It tells us that those first believers were together and had everything in common. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
From the outset, we want to say that THIS is the kind of community we want to be. Who ever you are - if you believe in God or you don’t, whatever your background, wherever you are from - you are WELCOME to be a part of our community! I hope you find the same encouragement and support I found when I needed it the most.
We’re going to dedicate the next 2 weeks on The Church Project to community. We’re going to share more of our thoughts and experiences and perhaps you might share with us too. We’re so excited to see this community begin to form.