A week up in the Blue Mountains might seem like an ideal holiday but NextGen16 was anything but a easy getaway. In fact NextGen16 once again has been one of the most intense yet rewarding experiences of the year. For those of you unfamiliar with NextGen Conference, it is a yearly training event for children’s and youth ministry leaders. The training takes place over 3 different stand levels starting with How to Write a Bible Study or Talk, then Biblical Theology followed by Systematic Theology. Conference delegates spend 5 amazing days each year over 3 years to complete the NextGen ministry training. Complementing the strand groups (training) are 9 high caliber Bible talks. This year the theme of NextGen was ‘By His Word’ and we had the privilege of listening to Phil Colgan speak about Joseph in Genesis and Mike Raiter speak on the Gospel of Mark.
Each strand group is comprised about 10-15 people with a stand leader(s) to facilitate the training and discussion. In Systematic Theology we learnt that it is a summary of what the Bible says about a topic all at once in light of the Gospel. It can be described as being like taking a picture of the whole Bible all at once. At NextGen, we were trained in understanding each part of putting together a Systematic Theology presentation with brainstorming, finding individual passages, looking at the Gospel, deciding on summary points, finding the Big Idea and coming to implications for our lives. In the first half of the week, we looked at ‘what the Bible says about social justice’ using Systematic Theology. Through our discussions and training, we learnt that both the Old and New Testament could be applied to topics such as social justice. One of the conclusions that our strand group reached based on reading the Bible is that the injustice that has given rise to the need for social justice boils down to the presence of sin in our world.
In addition to the excellent Bible talks and ministry training, we were gifted with many demonstrations on running creative activities for youth and workshops on servant leadership, topical preaching, gender/identity as well as cultural exegesis. NextGen was also a great week for fellowship and to meet up with other Christians from different churches around New South Wales and interstate. In our spare time, our strand group went to the Leura Cafe & Deli, one of the top eateries in the Blue Mountains for afternoon tea. I also took the opportunity to see the sunrise at Echo Point early one morning during the week. NextGen is a conference that I’d highly recommend to anyone in Year 11 and above whether they are considering becoming involved in the youth or children’s ministry or wanting to gain some theological insight into the Bible. I am thankful of the opportunity to attend NextGen and would like to thank Auburn Baptist Church and Western District Chinese Christian Church for their financial support of my ministry training.